Take A Break from the City with this Digital Detox & Yoga Retreat
photos: Roger Sabaté.
In March, just before the lockdown, I had the opportunity to try a new retirement concept that took me through the Brandenburg countryside to the charming Neuhausen castle.
I have not done a retreat so far, so I was curious about this invitation and happy to confirm. One of the key aspects was the digital detox element, which meant that for the entire stay, all customers had to give up all their electronic devices, including smartphones, tablets, smart watches, computers. Given my usual attachment to all of this and how often I feel enslaved by the connectivity they offer, I felt it was time for me to try something like this. It was a test of the strength of my addiction to connecting and constantly checking my phone.
Be Retreats is a project by daughter-in-law duo Laura and Kathrin from Berlin who found that there was a great need for stressed Berliners to get out of the city and get away from the habit of being stuck with their telephones. Apparently, we pick up the phone an average of 200 times and spend 7 hours consuming different types of media per day. It sounds great, but it also sounds fairly realistic.
In their quest to escape this digital addiction, they found a magnificent country house in Prignitz, Brandenburg, which has become their retreat location. The retreats take place several times a year, the next available being in September, October and November 2020. The backdrop of the charming Schloss Neuhausen offers an ideal scenario to get your head out of the digital world.
Having this retreat in March, just before the lockdown, turned out to be an unexpected blessing, because at that time we had no idea what the pandemic had in store for us, and later we were happy with the ‘have rethought. for months of isolation. We also decided not to talk about Corona over the weekend, so that we could catch our breath because of all the drama that had already been built at the time.
The location was only 2 hours by train and a short shuttle ride away from Berlin. We arrived in the evening when it was already dark, so the place and the surroundings remained a bit mysterious until the next day. The accommodation was a farm transformed into the premises of the castle. Each had their own spacious bedroom with a little country house style. He immediately felt comfortable and peaceful, a place of perfect tranquility.
Right after we arrived, we had to abandon our phones, which was honestly a little scary at first, but was quickly forgotten later. After an initial introductory session, we enjoyed a homemade meal prepared by Kathrin and then discussed our retirement expectations and the reasons why we decided to sign up for it. Quite quickly, it became clear that we all shared common ground on the digital addictions we had, how we felt guilty for using our devices too much, and how we ran out of time before smartphones ran out. fit into all real life situations. The desire to regulate the use of digital devices was there for everyone, but in everyday situations, it is simply pushed into the subconscious.
Hours passed after we put our phones back in, and we didn’t even know how late it was already. Going to bed without checking our phones for the last time or even scrolling without thinking about all the streams before falling asleep was unusual, but ultimately good because for the first time in a long time, I fell asleep immediately.
The next day, we finally discovered the place and found that our house was surrounded by a pretty pond, the castle and a pretty park. After breakfast, we took a tour of the castle by the current owner and were able to relax a bit in the sun. We wandered around the park, taking pictures of each other, relaxing a bit by the pond, exploring the little book library in the house. There was also a special rest room where you could retreat if you wanted to be alone. In a jar there were little pieces of paper with little questions and notes to give you something to think about which I thought was a lovely little detail.
The day went well, without anyone really missing his phone or the information he would normally provide. It was like a form of therapy to consciously free your mind and breathe your normal life.
As an evening meal, we had a real treat, something I personally like: pancakes for dinner. It was such a reminder of our childhood when we had breakfast for dinner on special occasions. Subsequently, we played a bunch of games, which I expected to be annoying because I’m not really into games, but it turned out to be quite entertaining and fun. Without being able to rely on your phone to fill empty moments, your mind is challenged to always stay focused and engaged with the group – but not in an exhausting or challenging way, you do it naturally. It was nice to realize that we are actually quite capable of filling an entire weekend with big conversations without ever having those empty moments that you want to fill by checking your phones.
The next day we went on a little excursion to a nearby organic farm run by a nice young woman who was so caring and open-minded that it really gave you a new perspective on organic food and farming in general. We learned a lot there about the conservation of chicken, pigs and cows which certainly had an impact on all of us in terms of how we buy food.
Back at our retirement, the time has come to collect our phones and return to Berlin. Before we left, we discussed again in the group what it felt like to spend these days without our devices and we all agreed that it was actually easy and natural to do without it. No one was in a hurry to finally check their messages again, it was actually a little depressing to reconnect to the digital world.
In the weeks that followed, I really took to heart some of the things I learned during our group discussions, such as not putting the phone in the room at night, turning off certain notifications, not bringing the phone. to dinners with friends, and relatives. I thought a lot about retirement during the lockdown, how relieved it was to be bombarded with alarming information and feel helpless about it. I thought a lot of people would benefit from a digital rehab at the time, but more so now that we’ve already fallen back into old models.
If you think that you, alone or with your partner, a group of friends, your family or your colleagues, would need a break from digital life, you should definitely consider Be Retreats. I was particularly pleased to find that they also added yoga sessions to the program, which makes a lot of sense if you want to find more inner peace.
We would like to thank Laura and Kathrin for inviting us to this retreat and for being such caring and kind hosts for the whole weekend. We felt like we were in good hands, and I think you would too.
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