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Inner Joy Retreat at Happy Buddha

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by Kate Reynolds (subscribe)
Kate is a Melbournite who now calls Sydney home. She's at her happiest when there's halloumi on the brunch menu and there's a dog to give belly rubs to. Read her work at www.HelloKateReynolds.com
Published September 15th 2022
Trying a silent retreat might surprise you
Have you ever found yourself mindlessly scrolling through social media's labyrinth of other people's perfection and found yourself feeling… deflated?

Do you watch movies while also trying to look up where you've seen that actor before, and end up not paying attention to either?

Is your phone the first thing you see when you wake up, and the last thing you see before you go to bed?

colouring in book, meditation, retreat, mindfulness, happy buddha
Colouring in can be a great mindfulness tool


Screens have become an integral part of our lives - whether for socialising, study, school or work. But sometimes it can feel like we're stuck in a cycle.

I recently completed a weekend silent, screen-free meditation retreat at Happy Buddha Retreats in Sydney's Blue Mountains. Here's why I think everybody should give a digital detox a go.


Comparison is the thief of joy

We've all heard the expression, and in this day and age of everyone sharing the #bestlife Instagram and TikTok, it's never rung more true. But when you switch off from social, you have nothing to compare yourself to. Everyone in the world could be having the time of their lives, and you simply have no idea, you're too busy enjoying the moment in front of you. I personally found it very liberating. I often go weeks at a time without logging into Instagram, and I find it good for the soul, and my self-esteem. I implore everyone who ever feels inadequate to have a break from social media and see how you feel afterwards.

pool, retreat, meditation, blue mountains
The sparkling blue pool and Happy Buddha retreats



You have to listen

I love to talk. I'm often waiting for gaps in conversation to jump in with my thoughts - which, actually, doesn't make me the best listener. I think this stems from a fear of there being a lull in conversation - the dreaded awkward silence. But during a silent retreat, everything is of course silent. And hey - it wasn't that bad! Not being able to talk meant I really had to listen to our facilitator without comment, and now I try to be mindful in conversations about letting people talk and not always jumping in with my own opinion.

It also made me listen to my mind, and my body. Often we just push through feelings of discomfort, especially when we have a busy mind, but if I wanted to rest, I went upstairs and had a lie down. If a yin pose was feeling awkward, I shifted and got comfy.


You may discover other passions

Having no phone for a whole weekend made me realise just how much time I spend on my phone and laptop. Whether I'm looking up recipes, playing Wordle, messaging friends, filming TikToks, looking up the train timetable, working, in a zoom meeting, doing an online Zumba class, reading articles or trying to squeeze in some creative writing, I spend a fair chunk of my day looking at a screen.

The retreat had an activity shelf filled with books, crafts and paints. With nothing else to do, and no screens to distract me I picked up some metallic watercolours and began painting. Watercolour requires you to be patient as the wet paint dries so you can add another layer, and I really enjoyed it. Ironically, I have plenty of paints at home, yet I never seem to have the time to use them. There's always something more important that needs to be done, and I struggle to do things simply for the pleasure of it. But switching off gave me permission to do something, simply because it might be fun to do.

painting, mindfulness, meditation
Painting is another great mindful activity



Create distance from disaster

Let me explain. I also freelance as a voice actor, and as part of my role - at least, it feels like it - is that I need to be online 24/7 to respond to client queries and questions. If I don't straightaway, they'll hate me, think I have an awful work ethic, cancel all their orders and never work with me again. So naturally, despite putting up an OOO, I was anxious about not being online for a whole weekend. When I finally retrieved my phone at the end, I expected to be inundated with messages that I would have to quickly respond to and apologise over the delay in communication.

There was not a single message in my inbox. Which taught me that disaster is not waiting for me if I go offline for a few days.

You can book an Inner Joy retreat at Happy Buddha - based in the beautiful suburb of Wentworth Falls in the Blue Mountains.

A bit closer to home, you could also try a digital detox in the comfort of your own place.

  • Turn off the WiFi when you're not using it.

  • Swap a movie night for a board games night.

  • Read a book in a cafe instead of scrolling on social media.

  • Put your phone in a different room overnight so that you aren't woken up during the night with notifications, thus disrupting your sleep.

    If you need a little more motivation to give mindfulness a go, you could also apply for this digital detox by technology review site Reviews.org. They're going to pay one applicant $2400 to go a full 24 hours without any tech.

    There are many ways to bring mindfulness into our lives, and reducing our time on our screens can be one of them.
  • Help us improve  Click here if you liked this article  29
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    Why? Come back to yourself
    Where: Happy Buddha
    Your Comment
    Some very good advice, even for those of us who can't get to the retreat.
    by Gayle Beveridge (score: 3|9742) 12 days ago
    We can all value from time away for inner preace, relaxation and reflection
    by Gillian Ching (score: 3|5378) 12 days ago
    Thanks Gayle! Glad you enjoyed the article :)
    by Kate Reynolds (score: 0|6) 12 days ago
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