It’s the time of year when I am at my most engaged. We have all our meditation courses before the year wraps, our Byron Bay retreat and I just graduated a group of meditation teachers and have another starting! So being clever with energy and time is always important to me at the moment, and I thought this week as they crop up I would share a few things that might help, as I’m not alone with the craziness that pre-Christmas timing offers…
Almost two years ago we spent 6 or so weeks on our friends huge property River Hawk Ranch in Brunswick Head just out of Byron Bay. We built fires and cooked on them, we paddle boarded up and down the river, we swam on deserted beaches, we drank coffee on the deck watching the sun rise and we spent a lot of time with close friends. I spent very little time on my phone or my computer. Our time there did something to me. Something shifted. It was the most unproductive and most productive time, depending on how you view productivity, which is exactly what I toyed with and changed up. And when I returned by myself leaving Arran and Marley there for an extra week, I came home to a huge house filled with all our things and I couldn’t breath for a moment. My chest hurt and I knew I could no longer ignore what I had learnt. I needed to change up how we lived. So I did what every calm rational person would do and just sat back. Joking!! I found us a new place to live surrounded by bush in Palm Beach and gave away and sold 90% of everything we owned and we moved. 9 days later.
It was chaos for a bit. And then we were in the most divine little cottage and rebuilt our family life there. We looked at all the areas of our lives and built in more creativity, aligned ourselves with a more conscious way of living and got clarity on how we wanted to be living. Everyone’s needs were discussed, including our dog Honey’s. How could we all be happier and live a higher grade life with meaning?
One of the key things I came to terms with is that Arran and I have (bordering on insane) strong work ethics. And we love what we do. Madly. So there’s a lot of blurred lines. I was completely fine with this, until I also realised that I was blurring the intensity with way too much digital technology. Working hard and cleverly and working a lot are two different things. For me the culprit for working too much and not smartly was being online. I love digital technology. It’s the only way I get to publish these letters to you. But my god can it also become claustrophobic, overwhelming and distracting. I created some boundaries around my engagement with it and I wanted to share them with you, as I have this conversation so very often with our students.
– I very rarely check my emails or social media before meditating in the morning. I try to have a tech free space and ground for the day.
– I try not to be a slave to my emails. My inbox can give me epic amounts of anxiety. And I get so many emails and I admittedly miss a lot of them that caught in the fray. Telling myself I’m a worthless, useless teacher as I didn’t respond to a student quick enough is seriously unhelpful. So I have a clear autoresponder and I am very clear with students that my best intentions are there to respond, but to please give me a little time. I also try not to answer too many emails from my phone. This is a disaster zone for me, reading on the run and not responding is a sure fire way for me to be walking the dog or reading a book and hit with that awful ‘oh dear god I didn’t respond to X’ with a sickening thud.
– I keep my phone on silent 80% of the time. This started because I teach in person so much, and then would forget to turn it back on. So I would finish teaching, then sit down and have a big block of tech time or a few meetings, then remember my phone was on silent and so I would sit in one spot, answer texts, Instagram messages and return phone calls all together. Blocking it together was hugely beneficial. So I just kept it up. Otherwise every 15 minutes my phone badgers me with something and my attention is frayed. Constantly.
– I try to have as little email subscriptions as possible. My inbox heaves anyway. Having newsletters stream in, not so great. I’m careful with quality. I read only Jeff Kober, Seth Godin, the NY Times, Michael Neill, Mystic Mama and Brain Pickings.
– I post to social media without checking it also. This has been a big one for me, and I spend so little time on social media now as a result. I can quickly throw up a video or picture and then put it back down. If each time I do that, I am also flicking through comments and messages, it drains my time and my attention very quickly. I also try keep the number I follow to under 500. I’m also very careful with who I follow, it has to be either creative, funny or inspiring. Feeling insecure about how little yoga inversions I can do – unhelpful. Seinfeld bloopers have been utterly helpful on the other hand, and have gotten me out of some foul moods!!
Essentially, things are moving fast in all our worlds, and in order to be graceful with it we must keep evaluating and tweaking. I call it the practice of Audit, Edit and Refine. There’s no way my suggestions will all work for you and vice versa. But perhaps just one could shift a lot. So I would love your suggestions too so I can add them to the post on our Journal!
This is perfectly written, and must be viewed on a desktop computer https://chris.bolin.co/offline/
Sent with love,
Photo at River Hawk Ranch building a fire for dinner with our friends Josh and Jo and all our kids. And Chief the dog, who was just a pup back then.