Unplug to Connect

by Jill Sockman

As I’m writing this, I’m in the process of getting ready to leave for Pinehurst for a weekend of teaching some of my favorite material. I love Pinehurst, our host, the deep-diving nature of the work I’ll share there, getting away, great food, intimate community… But one of the things I am looking forward to the most is getting unplugged.

We live in a world where we can “stay connected” not only in bustling urban centers, but in tiny villages, beaches and jungles in most distant places. Our “staying connected” to news, to home, to work and to all the many distractions of a smartphone or computer often gets very much in the way of being connected to what is in the here and now, of every moment, wherever we are.

We know this, we’ve experienced it, we’ve heard it before. My teacher tells the story of sitting on the patio of a guest house in India with two of his kids, overlooking the sacred Ganges at sunrise. I’ve been to the place — it’s MAGICAL in the MOST MAGICAL kind of way. His boys saw a family on a patio below where everyone at the table was looking not out upon life on the river or the rising Indian sun, but at their iPads. WTF, people?!

That’s an extreme example, but there is beauty, perfection, magic in every moment. But we have to be paying attention to see it. Every time I come back from a time unplugged, I vow to do so more often. I’m usually pretty good about it at first, but then regular life and work charge in and I’m back to it. But it’s a reminder, each time, of where and how I want to be.

What would happen if you turned off your phone for your Saturday? Leave it at home for a dinner out with friends? How much more connected could you be, to nature, to life, to the people around you, by simply unplugging for a few waking hours each and every day?