The modern lifestyle with its myriad distractions and all-consuming entertainment at your fingertips can leave many of us stressed, anxious and never quite feeling right.
I spent 5 weeks in the Himalayas recently and since my return I’ve been, suddenly able to do all the things I have failed to get to for years -I meditate every day, I do yoga regularly, have cold showers, I am more engaged at work, I feel calmer and I lost my constant sense of a low-level anxiety, I now eat when I am hungry and not when I am bored or for emotional comfort and so on and on.
After returning home, I tried to identify what caused this transformation. Why am I able to do all the things I wanted for so long all at once? Contrary to much of the habit-building advice of starting small (think Atomic Habits) - I did it all together and months later it is still sticking. I believe the key to my success lies in the lack of distractions that the mountains allowed me to experience. I think I experienced an unintentional ‘dopamine fast’.
Here I outline a scaled down version of what I think has helped me,
and based on feedback from dozens of people who tested the protocol what has helped them too. I am calling it a ‘mind retreat protocol’.
The mind retreat protocol is for you if any of the below apply -
The mind retreat takes only one day. All you need is to commit for one day and really stick with it
To be clear, I am not promising that you’ll entirely transform your life. I do think, however, that this ‘mind retreat’ protocol has the potential to let you glimpse the benefits I listed above and reset the way you look at your life.
In essence it is one day where you don’t engage at all with any distractions in your environment, electronic devices being the key focus.
I also include a few ‘exercises’ to do throughout the day to help you get the most benefit out of the day.
A few dozen volunteers (as well as myself) have tried the protocol over the past few months. Everyone has so far been very positive, so I am now fairly confident that it’s a beneficial exercise and one I plan on doing on a regular basis.
Below are a few excerpts from the messages I received about people’s experiences:
‘It’s hard to articulate how amazing I felt afterwards, it’s like a switch flicked in my brain.’
‘I plan on repeating this every month. I can’t remember feeling this calm.’
‘It made me realise I wanted to marry my girlfriend, thank you!'
‘It was probably the longest day in my life! Good and bad at the same time but I am keen to try it again.’
‘I feel like I know myself a little bit better, the happiness exercise was especially strange – never would have thought that some of the issues I probably have at work come from feeling like I am not learning.’
’I now see how addicted I am to my phone. Focusing on anything was so hard, I just kept looking around for my phone… Now I can start to try to control it.’
You can play with the specifics of how to do this. The only key rule I highly recommend sticking to is - no electronics at all, this means no phone or digital entertainment (news sites, social media,Netflix, podcasts, YouTube…).
Commit to doing the mind retreat. It is only one day, you can find one day where you can be ‘off the grid’ if you really value yourself.
The basics: Get the basic logistics in place before starting.
The day before: Do all of the below before the big day.
There are four exercises to do at some stage during the day:
On the day, keep the following rules in mind as much as you can:
Thanks for taking the time to look through this and I hope you get to try the retreat and experience some of the benefits.
Feedback or questions: I would love to hear about your experience. Please reach out with any thoughts or questions anytime either on firstname.lastname@example.org or reach out on LinkedIn.