I had been looking forward to taking my recent vacation from the moment I booked it, there’s a certain joy in planning, anticipation and day dreaming through the days ahead. The advantage to travelling to somewhere you know is that the brain already has a selection of images, smells, sounds that bring it to a place of immediate ease, the inevitable stresses associated with travel seem more manageable in the face of knowing your destination will be warm, comforting and easy escapism for a whole ten days.
And then life happens and your brain is brought firmly into the present requiring you to bring yourself back from the moments you perceived would be and back to the reality of what is. Holidays are wonderful moments of escapism but sometimes life asks you to remain firmly present, and so, instead of getting on a plane to Cyprus, I packed up the car with my four cats & two dogs and off we went to the forest.
As I contemplated the week ahead I decided to continue with my plans to step away from technology as far as possible for the duration of my break, easier to do when you are away, not so easy when your home away from home. So off went the Wi-Fi & off went the data on my phone, so far so good. I’m not a huge social media follower or participant so stepping away is never that challenging but have you noticed how much more your phone does aside from Instagram?!
From checking the weather to know if umbrellas not of the sunshine kind would be needed, the daily news, to daily banking & paying for your coffee. I realised one night that to continue watching a series on a certain channel this Disney Princess would need her wifi on in order to stream. To participate in live classes, listen to daily meditations or simply to research questions as I ploughed through my study reading list, the world required me to stay switched on it seemed & not off. One morning I sat in a coffee shop people watching real people interact instead of staring at real and not so real people on a screen, I remembered what it was like to sit and wait and listen. It is not technology that stops us enjoying these moments, its our co dependency on them, we can learn to take what’s useful and leave the rest.
So instead of reading sat by the sea this week, I’ve sat by a window listening to the white noise of the motorway. My husband and I have taken daily walks to new places (with the help of Strava obviously) we’ve met the youngest son’s new partner (a very big deal) we’ve been able to feed Sylvester about 100 snacks a day and coax him out of one of his seizures and we’ve started Baxter on pain relief as his disease progresses, just as the Autumn brings her dramatic colour so vibrantly to its finale, I am reminded that day dreams and mindfulness are both vital tools in our powerful, complex and wonderful minds and bodies. Deciding not to travel didn’t take away from the previous joy I had in the planning and anticipation nor did choosing to postpone the trip mean I had to reside in disappointment & miss the opportunities of this week.
So as this week draws to a close and the benefits of spending more time with my family, less time with my phone I reflect on some wise words.
“It takes time to become what you already are” (Rick Hanson, The Buddhas brain) it also takes the off switch.