I’m still coming down from the high of the summer retreat this past weekend, which was SUCH a lovely and relaxing and connection-filled experience. The people, the setting, the house, the weather, the food, the ideas and conversations shared, all of it was absolutely perfect and felt especially nourishing.
We tried a few new things on this retreat:
1- No devices allowed in common areas
2-No talking before 9am (coffee & juice is served at 8am, first flow is at 9am)
I’ve always encouraged folks to put their phones down during our weekends away, but I think making it an actual rule that you can’t bring your phone downstairs only gave people that much more permission to unplug. Of course they can do what they need to do to stay in touch and up-to-date while in their rooms, but there was none of that zombie-eyed disengagement while together. People were present together, even if not in active conversation.
The quiet hour in the mornings I was unsure about. So much of the retreat is about people making connections, I didn’t want to take away time for an early morning chat over coffee, but I knew it could be impactful to reserve those foggy morning hours for silence. And, it was. The house had a certain vibration to it. Folks quietly sipping their coffee and reading their books with only a gentle nod to say hi, and the understanding that they didn’t need to engage further. It created a beautiful time for personal space to wake up to the day and the crisp morning air with your own thoughts and reflections and intentions for your time away.
Ahhhh that quiet.
It got me thinking about how we usually start our days back in “real life,” and how we can incorporate some of these same things to set the tone for a calm and connected kind of day.
When I’m working with clients, one of the most impactful things we do right at the beginning is move their phone across the room. We get so accustomed to sleeping with our phone a foot from our heads as if we can’t even make it into or out of bed without it. But when your phone plugs in across the room - or even [gasp] in the other room - it’s not the last thing you do at night and the first thing you do in the morning. It gives you breathing room to, literally, breathe. Whether you want to call it meditation or not, having a little space to just be with yourself before plugging in to the rest of the world can make a ginormous impact on your day and levels of anxiety.
Go a little bit further and challenge yourself to not pick up your phone til after your shower, or after breakfast or maybe even not til you leave the house. Find your own version of the “quiet hour,” even if it means telling your family or partner or roommates that you don’t want to engage first thing in the morning, or waking up a little bit early before the rest of the house is up. It doesn’t mean you have to sit and do nothing in that silence, but imagine sipping your coffee and taking your shower and getting ready all under a blanket of peace and quiet.
And before you say, “but my phone is my alarm!” let me tell you, they make something for that, they’re called alarm clocks. Here is my favorite one that I always recommend to clients. It’s travel-ready and minimal in design and super easy to use. But if you still want to wake up to your favorite song from your smart phone, well that’s what I do, and having to get up to turn the alarm off has cut my snoozing habit down by about 97%. Like, it was bad. But now, I’m already up, so why hit snooze? From there I just have to do my best to not look at notifications and get sucked in.
PS can we talk about notifications? My phone is on do not disturb almost all of the time - granted, I’m either asleep or teaching a yoga class with my phone plugged into the sound system about 75% of the time, but still. I like not getting yelled at by my phone every time some little thing happens. Maybe you already know about this great feature, but it allows you to still receive calls and texts and everything else, just doesn’t ding or vibrate or anything at all. If you’re worried about not getting an emergency call in the middle of the night, there are settings for that too. My point on this little rant is, stop having your phone buzz next to your head all night and don’t even let it buzz at you from across the room. Even if you’re going to “just ignore it” that little alert will register with your brain one way or another, and keep you engaged just a little bit. We’ve been trained by those little dings, stop letting them keep you turned on when you’re trying to sleep.
What small change can you adopt to make your mornings a little more peaceful and allow a moment to connect with yourself before the day begins?
*photo above taken by Helen Preis of Studio Duotone.