Annmarie O’Connor looks into the philosophy behind holidays
Remember the days when going on holidays meant getting away from it all? I mean, really, getting away from it all: no smartphones, no tablets, no Wi-Fi. Vacations were just that – vacating one’s physical and mental premises for a much needed reboot. The vast emptiness of time, unfilled schedules and infinite mental space allowed for a renewed flow of creativity and a lust for life. Holiday mode, if you will.
Since the onset of mass media on-the-go, things have gotten a bit skewed: answering work emails, checking social media apps, taking that sneaky Skype call; not to mention freaking out when there’s no broadband signal. It’s a brave new world alright; only we’re all too scared to fall off the grid.
And therein lies the rub. Fully charged, never off; if we’re always plugged in, how can we be tuning out? Such is the critical nature of our technocratic society that digital detox retreats have begun springing up in parts of the U.S.A. offering yoga and meditation classes, sunset silence, fear burning (yes, that’s correct) and morning journaling services with the added benefit of fresh juices and a vegan buffet.
If the option of intense navel-gazing simply isn’t an option then perhaps consider these bitesize tips to create the space for reflection without going cold turkey.
…check for a Wi-Fi signal when the plane lands, at the baggage carousel or in your hotel room. In fact, don’t check it at all. There’s a reason why that ‘out of office’ bounceback contains your phone number. If it’s that important, someone will call.
…sleep with your smartphone, use it as an alarm or check twitter just before bed. The device’s blue light, much like alcohol, interferes with the body’s production of melatonin, disrupting deep sleep and leading to a sense of lingering fatigue. It’s a hangover Jim but not as we know it.
…slap a filter on that sunset, Instagram your food or video that great time you appear to be having. Why not simply enjoy it? The memory of experience has far more impact when we commit to being present in the moment.
…meditate. Scientific studies prove that just 10 minutes of meditation (or simply sitting in silence) can have a positive effect on stress-related illnesses, improving both brain function, mood and heart health.
…learn to inhale. Shallow breathing is linked to various anxiety disorders; not to mention a host of physical ailments from sleep apnea to hypertension and constipation. The next time panic hits; breathe into it – deeply.
…master a Mudra. This set of symbolic Hindu hand gestures stimulates meridian points in the body, releasing energy blockages. To reduce fatigue and improve your immune system, try the Prana Mudra. Simply bend your ring and pinky fingers, touching the tips of these fingers with that of your thumb. Hold for up to 15 minutes.
All images from Getty’s Lean In collection
Annmarie O’Connor @aocdotme