Last weekend my partner and I decided to turn off all devices for 3 full days. We’ve done it before for single days at a time, but over a longer period of time this gave rise to a transformative process, a return to my true self. Here are some of reflections to inspire you when considering embarking on your own digital fast.
You don’t need to have a chip implanted to become robotic
We are in constant exchange with the environment around us. I watched a TED talk related to this a few years back — explaining this phenomena that the cells in the body literally incorporate physical matter from the outside whilst expelling its own contents to the environment around.
Unfortunately, despite some scouring of the internet I am unable to link the specific talk! But this phenomenon is quite well documented. However the point of this statement is this: over the recent weeks I felt an increasing sense of conducting myself and thinking in a mechanical and I would even go as far to say artificial way. I felt as though I was residing in the pixel comprised tetris land in my frontal cortex. My sole interests were to understand SEO, build websites, analyse, ingest facts, multitask and information. The house was a mess, I was kind of ignoring my partner and the world outside. I was processing everything as information and my attention to the senses diminished.
The feeling I experienced once everything was shut down was as a part of my brain itself was shutting down and some kind of “defrag” process was taking place.
I had more time for everyone especially our cat - Fernando
This was probably the most important feature of the weekend. I guess the fear of not being connected or just plain old FOMO its one of the reasons people might choose not to embark on such a thing as a digital fast. But the opposite was true.
We had the chance to meet with some friends, eat together, listen to music, take walks in nature, even play cards with the neighbours kids and say yes jumping like idiots on the trampoline.
Despite the language barrier for me (living in Germany) I found myself attentive, interested and able to follow along the conversation, enjoying the really good vibes of company. This has actually been something I have always struggled with, so I feel that the new quality was also as a result of the last year spent in lockdown. I was simply drinking in the company and the joy of togetherness. No agenda to move on, no restlessness and a feeling of ease and happiness.
The weeks preceding I was hardly satisfied even talking on the phone unless I was also multitasking. This has led me to ponder the incredible power that the digital-nexus-that-is to strengthen our sense of self importance. I was behaving like a city banker, working late, with burning ambition and focus. When the reality is that I’m a kind of modern hippy living in the black forest, pondering how to share sound healing and Ayurveda with the world, with the side hustle of building a few websites for yoga teachers.
I was able to enjoy things one at a time.
Another really amazing beautiful thing to return to. Typically I am not a gentle door closer, delicate tea sipper, organised chef. I had resigned myself that years of meditation and yoga seem to be doing nothing to change this, except that I am more accepting. However, this strange thing started happening, I was walking softly, paying attention whilst brushing my teeth, gently turning the light off as I leave the room, closing cupboards I had opened. It was as if suddenly all the years of meditation were blooming in these 2–3 days. I was gently stroking our cat, listening to my partner practice guitar and the tap or pouring of tea. Basically I WAS there.(As In I was HERE, NOW — but, erm… Then)
I felt myself as a part of nature.
Quite similar to the previous point. but when relating to the natural world, this somehow had the effect of being deeply nourishing, to my cells, my mind and my whole being. Touching the earth or tree, observing the breeze on the leaves, hearing the birds singing. Walking not as a task but just as a part of nature itself. Growing up in a city, living and working until only recently I have only just started to notice how separately I have considered myself from the elements. But as I delve deeper into understanding and studying Ayurveda, and also simply just contemplating over this, it seems very strange how cut off we have become. We are simply comprised of the five elements, in unfathomable combinations, from the quantum to the macroscopic, this has been shown to be the case — by the ancient yogis and by todays modern physicists.
But knowing it is not enough, the experience is the healing force. And as my digitalised brain started dissolving, my heart opened and I felt I could really breath again.
There was a physical detox process — and it was Easter after all.
These incredible experiences did not happen instantaneously. The first day of the detox — I exclaimed to my partner the strong desire to put my head in a cold lake or any body of water.
In the end I just had a bath and spent as much of that time as possible completely submerged. I also used some humming and other simple sound healing techniques to recalibrate the vibrational frequency of my body and mind.
After this hour, I honestly felt like a new born lamb. Tottering softly out into the world with amazement and wonder.
The thinking process “naturalised” itself.
It’s not like you turn the computer off and you stop thinking. But what I noticed after my deep dive in the bathtub, was a total softening of my mind and thought patterns. I was able to observe the thoughts passing like clouds (just like in those meditation mp3s). The thoughts seemed to emerge from a more natural part of myself and were also much less relentless. Instead of shark infested waters it was more like a koi pond.
I felt naturally (physically) tired for the first time in a long time.
As I previously mentioned, there was a bit of an escalation up to this point where we felt the need for a digital detox. Sleep was increasingly poor, and difficult to come by. And the mornings I felt heavy and uninspired. (Generally we turn off screens before latest 9pm and don’t turn them on until 11 in the morning. We don’t keep phones in the bedroom anyway.)
However day 2 and 3 of the fast evenings, I felt heavy, sleepy and drowsy by bedtime. Then I awoke feeling fresh, happy and inspired.
8. THE ESSENCE
I felt my-Self again
In the days leading up to the fast, I expressed to my partner that “I can’t feel myself any more”. Despite a daily routine of tuning into my inner dimensions, and an intense commitment to the spiritual path, I felt absolutely lost, floating in a void, somehow suspended between mind, emotions and physicality. Basically I was Numb. Spirituality was not even in the picture. Perhaps this a slight reiteration of a previous point I made. But as the “Checking” impulses (i.e to reach for my phone) started to subside I really could feel my own essence again. And realised I had completely buried my own dear self underneath an intense to-do list (which was not really even written down but a kind of selfpropelling perpetual motion machine in my head) Can you relate?
Creativity started to flow from my own essence again, rather than a mental effort.
Somehow the mind can completely hijack the creative spirit, allowing it to be harnessed, put to work, made to task. Effectively carry out work with aesthetics. It can even look good, be a pleasing design — but the inherent joy — kind of like that contained within a child’s drawing can be missing.
Spirit has returned, and I feel it is with me typing now, I feel freshness in ideas and the source from which they have sprung. And it’s not coming from trying to be special or needing anything in return. Just the pure joy of expressing!
My listening skills improved
I wanted to particularly highlight this sense as although all the senses seemed to restore themselves to balance. The return to a listening state was one of the most enriching. It’s not just the gross sounds or paying attention to content, but hearing and experiencing life with fullness. The birds singing, a piece of music a friend played, the tone of voice of my partner, the sound of the cat doing his cat things.
The care in listening allowed a natural sweetness “the rasa” or the music of life to be felt not just by my ears but by my whole being.
11. GOOD VIBRATIONS
The field in the house was of tranquil silence
Even subtler, the vibrational field around became silent. In the same way that the thoughts settled down, it also felt that the house was a very peaceful place to be. The whole body is like a giant ear. The vibrations of life affect each cell of our body. If in doubt of this, check out some of the cymatics experiments on youtube.
We are constantly being shaped by sound and frequencies around us. The Laptop I am currently typing on actually quite alarmlingy makes me vibrate. My partner can feel that when he touches my skin. (its not just mine but any of the Macbook pros from the last few years. )
But I don’t think we realise that information itself is noisy. Even if it appears static, written information. It is still something we are consuming and making a part of ourselves. The information is processed by the brain in a highly complex series of neurochemical events. And just like with physical food, it becomes a part of us, if we consume too much, it becomes toxic in the system. (If you are interested in more of this, you can read about mental āma in Ayurveda.)
Food and cooking was better and tasted MUCH better.
Attention, love and care was poured into the making and eating of the food. This makes all the difference to the feeling of nourishment that one receives from food. I felt grateful, I felt exhilarated to be shown wild herbs and to bring them into the meal.
The world continues
Its like the well reported phenomenon of going travelling for a year and realising when you come back that mostly everything is the same! Do it just do it take a few days out and come back to everything, it will be awesome. Give your poor brain cells a much needed rest. The work is not that important and will probably be a LOT better once you regenerate and reconnect.
without reading the news constantly.
For years I didn’t check the news, but somehow probably along with corona, a daily dose of “checking” started to creep in.
Its not about not caring what’s going on in the world. I feel being able to feel your own humanness, fragility and connection to other beings makes the authenticity and depth of compassion more valuable.
Consuming 3 x daily news actually makes you feel tension, fear and more helpless.
The quality of my relationship with my partner improved.
Chatting with my partner, sitting on the couch together, playing guitar, sharing ideas, everything was much softer. Our encounters lately were increasingly task and opinion driven, and not necessarily in a bad way — its just that we work together and somehow the balance was getting tipped.
The connection with my own body returned.
Just as a natural extension of everything else mentioned, as well as the senses and mind feeling renewed, the body itself feels re-balanced. I feel a physical opening in the chest area, my shoulders aren’t hunching up. Even my face looked pretty different in the mirror this morning.
And it’s a joy, to see thoughts organised on paper. I wrote the points of this article out by hand first, filling in the details was not such a chore! My partner and I still did some work over the weekend but putting pen to paper. It wasn’t interrupted by google searches every 10 minutes, or weather checking. We did one task at a time and finished what was needed in that moment.
The house is completely clean.
Although we clean the house once a week, very quickly it can be hurricaned into a kind of dishevelled state (its normal! We are all busy people). This weekend, everything seemed to get replaced with care, cleaned and upheld. But not in a particularly contrived way. The magic had entered the house. And not a sage stick in sight!
I am much cooler 😎.
Not in a particularly hip or sophisticated sense. But literally, my system — feels actually cooler. In Ayurveda there is a great body of understanding about how to balance the five elements within the body so that disease doesn’t stand so much of a chance. Pitta representing particularly the fire element tends to get quite out of hand in our western cultures. The driven, ambitious forces, sense of individuality, attainment and material gains are all symptoms that pitta could be high. In a disease sense — this may result in inflammation, stomach issues, skin disorders, allergies, migraines and a temperament which is well — inflammatory — quick to anger, frustration for example.
I honestly felt cool as a cucumber yesterday and today still not doing too badly.
Three days was not really enough.
This in a certain way relates to my search for deep inner connectedness and meaning. I sincerely consider myself a spiritual seeker, although the word seeker might convey that Im looking for something outside, Its really a sense of self-connection. Finding oneself in the mire of our own mind. Truly integrating all the senses and living from the heart. This has historically been a heroic quest, where only a few rare beings, Buddha, Jesus and of course many nameless others throughout time have mapped out this path.
The emergence of meditativeness during this 3 days fast, was not an absence of thoughts, thoughts were still there and the ego still operated OF COURSE. It was much softer and easier to disentangle from momentarily. But it was of course still there! As soon as the end of the detox started to approach, I found my mind revving up again. The thoughts which were gently swimming around, started to take on their aggressive, pervasive qualities again. And I allowed myself to get swept up in the driving forces.
This time has been incredibly valuable in showing me the influences on Ones meditativeness. Sitting silently each morning and evening was a very beautiful and enriching activity this weekend, and although I do this anyway — the quality of the silence during this fast was really incomparable. (Although I am comparing it…)
Meditativeness to me, is a sense of ease, balance, consciousness and ability to create space between your self and your thoughts and compulsions.
If you’re considering doing something similar —I would firstly highly recommend it! And Secondly if you feel to, do reach out. We are considering creating a kind of communal offlining. (In the old days this meant just normal living) But we intend to provide some tips, some ideas for making the time more nourishing, uplifting and meditative whilst giving the opportunity to feel connected and part of something bigger.
You can visit the Soma Yoga website and simply send us a message through the contact form at the bottom of the page.