Every once in a great while I find it immensely rewarding, even comforting, to go "off-the-grid" for a few days. Life at home in the Metro DC area is just too complicated and schedule oriented to attempt this with any regular success. I do find the ritual of morning and evening meditation a welcomed opportunity to focus my attention wherever it needs to be by means of mental and spiritual tranquility to reduce stress and anxiety and to induce relaxation. Yet this is more often than not only a temporary reparation of too many visual, auditory . . . even olfactory and tactile . . . intrusions into daily life. I appreciate whatever comes to me during these brief respites.
Going off-the-grid for longer periods of time does not require one to disappear deep into a primeval forest, or to wander far out beyond distant desert dunes to avoid constraints posed on one by work, family, or just the routine nature of daily existence. One need not avoid all human contact to be alone with one’s thoughts and inclinations. Most of the time it is as easy as turning off or avoiding the unnecessary interruptions and noises we allow into our lives.
I have found that genuine opportunities to go off-the-grid occur more frequently when we are here at the lake cottage in Maine where there is neither a land line phone nor television although there is Internet service when the local network and router are behaving themselves. Who needs them? There is the constant beauty of the lake outside our windows, and the forest beyond. More evenings than not we are also treated to a stunning sunset. No two of them are alike. But even if the Internet is cooperating and we are able to check our e-mails and stay in touch with family and friends through various social media options, it is nice to just chuck it all for a day or two (or longer, if possible) and, as they say, stop and smell the roses. Turn off the mobile phones and the laptops and listen to the loons’ mournful cries somewhere in the distance. Or just enjoy the fresh breezes off the lake, or the crackle of a fire in the woodstove on a chilly evening. I often sit out the deck and wonder about the strange sensation I am experiencing and I realize it’s nothing more than the silence. The complete absence of any sound. This does not happen very often so I like to soak it in, when it does.
Being off-the-grid does not mean to tune or zone out. Just like the ritual of meditation it is a time to refocus one’s attention on one’s place in the world with greater awareness and presence of mind . . . not just for one’s self but for other individuals and their particular conditions and circumstances. It can be a time to catch up on reading and writing projects free of interruptions which might otherwise compromise one’s goals and their benefits.
There is nothing wrong with being engaged with the world we live in, if for no other reason than to insure others do not infringe on our rights and protections that civilization as we wish it guarantee. Still, there should be time for occasional retreats from such involvements so that we might take stock of who and where we are and cultivate who and where we hope and want to be.
Nameste . . . .
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