Sometimes, we just need to unplug.
No speeding to meditation class. No updating Facebook profiles. No furious recitations of positive affirmations or stuffing healthy food into our mouths too fast. No compulsively -- okay, obsessively -- thumbing through iPhones, BlackBerries and health journals. Yes, stimulation is all around us -- in our pockets, on our beds, constant, clickable companions. And, yes, it's all moving at such warp speed that we can't help but try and keep up -- raise your hand if you've checked your Blackberry during yoga class!
Still, there's a reason why most everything has an off button--and if it doesn't we can make up our own. So in honor of "In Praise of Slowness: How a Worldwide Movement is Challenging the Cult of Speed," Arianna's inaugural book club pick, we asked HuffPost's Living bloggers to tell us how they slow down. That is, when they do slow down. Which is all the time, right?Dr. Patricia Fitzgerald, Wellness Editor, Huffington Post:
Tara Stiles, Founder of the New York-based yoga studio, Strala; face and resident expert of the Women's Health Yoga Channel:
My favorite way to Unplug and Recharge is by visiting a Korean spa here in Los Angeles called Olympic Spa. I get scrubbed and massaged Korean style and enjoy their hot mineral baths and Jade steam sauna. Then I top off the experience with some homemade seaweed soup and a tasty Korean lunch in their restaurant. After spending a few hours at Olympic Spa, I feel like I've been on vacation for a week. Aahh.....
Dr. Alex Benzer, Author, Tao of Dating for Women, Tao of Dating For Men:
I like to sneak into a cozy spot in the back row at Strala when Mike, my husband, is teaching, take class, and not worry about performing, or caring if I stay in perfect alignment or balance. I need to unplug and recharge as much as I am plugged in. Paying attention to this keeps my own mental and physical health in the best shape, and also helps me stay as useful as possible to other people. All of the teaching, writing, traveling, talking, and performing of health care and yoga is wasted without as many hours of practice and reflection. You can't teach or give what you don't have.
Sarah Lovinger, M.D., Executive Director, Chicago chapter, Physicians for Social Responsibility:
For the most part, I keep the onslaught of extraneous information at bay by circumscribing my online time. Then, for a quick local unplug, I go to yoga class. When breathing and not falling down become your top priorities, you pretty much obliterate all the stuff in your head that doesn't matter. Running works, too.
But the ultimate unplug is travel. I go somewhere the gizmos just plain don't work and commune directly with the Earth and the people on it. Sedona was good for that, as was my jaunt through the Baltic states.
Elena Brower, Certified Anusara® teacher, owner of VIRAYOGA, author, wife, mother:
In the summer, I head to the beach at least three times/week. I live on the western shore of Lake Michigan, and the easiest way for me to unwind is to spend time at the lakefront with my fold-up chair and books, magazines, and of course, the Sunday New York Times. My daughter is now old enough to swim without my keeping an eye on her constantly (that's the lifeguard's job), so I just look up from my reading every now and then to find her playing in the water or on the sand, and then return to my relaxation.
Cara Barker, Pioneering Voice for the Sacred Feminine's Heart-Centered Living:
The meditation that is the cornerstone of Pranic Healing brings us to a very particular understanding of how connected we are to the power source that empowers us all. It's called the Meditation on the Twin Hearts.
It takes just a few minutes, releases negativity of all sorts and helps us to strengthen ourselves inwardly. Every time I take the time to open myself as a conduit for the healing of my own heart and the heart of the world, I am quietly uplifted and fully recharged. Continue Reading...
Dylan Ratigan, Host of "Morning Meeting" on MSNBC and "Freedom Talk" on WABC Radio:
What a wonderful book topic! Much of my research has had to do with the successful, and the weariness they carry, and need to renew. Personally, I am reminded of the need, in that my daughter got married this weekend. Afterwhich, I unplugged by canceling work, taking a ferry over to Bainbridge Island, going on a long walk along the shore, meditated, ate healthy food, rested, and had a sleep-over. It was worth the 5am wake-up call to hop back on the ferry this morning to see my first clients, RECHARGED! Natural beauty returns me to my Center, my Spirit, and restores my heart to its healthy rhythm. Afterwhich, I felt recharged to write, to paint, and just plain smile. All this 'down-regulation,' this activation of the parasympathetic nervous system really recharges the system.
Therese Borchard, Mental health blogger:
The key to recharge for me, is total removal from the barrage of information that is work. Which means getting out of the city and as close to nature as possible. In my case it is next to a bird sanctuary on Long Island in two small cottages. It's a delightfully quiet, calm place. Nature for me, is the key to gaining perspective and regeneration.
Dr. Jon LaPook, Medical correspondent for the CBS Evening News with Katie Couric:
For 20 days in August I hide my computer in my closet and pretend there is no Internet. And I keep my weekends quiet. I shut down every Friday at 6 p.m. and I don't get back online until Monday at noon. My Facebook friends think I'm dead, but other than that, it's great.
Susan Smalley, Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences at UCLA:
I go to Vermont and breathe in the fresh air and my family.
Sadie Nardini, Founder, Core Strength Vinyasa Yoga, Author of the Road Trip Guide to the Soul:
Ways I 'slow' down if I feel I'm moving too fast or am too connected with the iphone, computer etc.
1. Meditate - it can be as small as stopping and taking a few slow breaths to sitting for 30 minutes
2. Take a bath - it really does wash away stress
3. Take a walk - my husband and i do this everyday as a way to talk without the 'busyness of life' getting in the way
4. Be out in nature - sitting in my backyard or working in my son's garden reminds me of how easy life really is.
(I heard one time that the reason Nature is so comforting to the 'soul' is there aren't any expectations or criticisms from Nature - a squirrel can care less if you made the deal, passed a test, or succeeded in whatever job you might have; a tree is there 'accepting' you as you are).
Kari Henley, President of the Board of Directors at the Women & Family Life Center:
Whenever I need to fill up on some good old soul fuel, I partake of the following (usually in this order): a yoga class, counting my blessings to broaden my perspective, a glass of pinot grigio and the inspiration to write a passable poem in my black book.
One of the quickest, and most profound ways I unplug is by getting out in Nature, and hiking. If I am lucky enough to be near mountains, there is nothing like a walk through pristine aspens or redwoods, smelling butterscotch pine trees, and watching hawks soar through the clouds. The fresh winds literally blow the cobwebs out. Closer to home, going hiking in our local suburban woods offer a refreshing change of scenery- at a moment's notice. Slipping from sidewalks to a woodsy trail eases my mind into a softer place. Mushrooms abound, twigs snap underfoot, and gentle streams meander by. I can feel the frenzied pace of my technology filled life begin to loosen its hold, and come home refreshed and recharged.
Gail Lynne Goodwin, Ambassador of Inspiration, InspireMeToday.com:
Gretchen Rubin, Writer working on The Happiness Project--an account of the year she spent test-driving every conceivable principle about how to be happy:
To unplug, I head to the wilderness where I don't have cell coverage, as my iPhone goes with me most places. To totally unplug you'll find me in a forest where I can breathe in the fresh mountain air, or on the bow of a sailboat in the Caribbean with the salt spray on my face. When circumstances don't allow for either, closing my eyes and going there for 15 minutes in my mind works for a quick refresher too.
Alison Rose Levy, Health journalist, coach, and advocate:
I re-read my favorite books from childhood. The Secret Garden, A Wrinkle in Time, To Kill a Mockingbird, Little Women, Peter Pan...they get better each time I read them. All the best reading is re-reading, and there's something particularly comforting about returning to the books that I read as a child
Srinivasan PIllay, Certified master coach, psychiatrist, brain imaging researcher and speaker:
As a health, psychology, and spirituality writer, I should probably claim to meditate, levitate, or ruminate, but in truth, I usually do one of three things: take a walk by the shady stream near home, lie down and take a nap with tabby twins, Tilly and Teek, or yes, I confess it, call Mom or one of my circle of five close ones. And there is of course, Leverage, the Timothy Hutton TV show featuring a team that helps the people and foils the bad guys. I'm addicted to it.
Julia Moulden, New Radical: how we earn our living can become the way we give back:
I think that the key to unplugging and recharging is to be "juiced" long enough to have to do this as little as possible. great friends and family, meditation, inspiring work, a night out, doing something creative like writing music and staying connected with people around shared experiences keeps the juices flowing and the need for unplugging to a minimum. still, when this need does occur (apart from sleep), i make sure that my life is not in "balance" but in harmony with the forces that keep me feeling "alive", because i am much more likely to feel like i need to unplug from "balance" than inspiration. i once took a "horse and carriage" ride with a tourist friend who was visiting and was shocked to see how differently i noticed the stores, people, sidewalks and dust particles in the air. when i look at the crevices in the skin of loved ones in whom time has etched a memory in the form of character, i am unplugged from my static illusions and recharged by a sensation of the meaning of life without time in recognizing the illusion of form. to me, unplugging and recharging is an indication that my senses are overloaded. i head for the hills beyond the senses where passion, love and spirits roam.
Ed And Deb Shapiro, Authors: BE THE CHANGE- How Meditation Can Transform You and the World:
How do I unwind? My bio says it all, "Julia kayaks as often as possible on Georgian Bay". Georgian Bay is a place as far, far away from the work world as I can get - but is still within easy driving distance of my home. It's part of the Great Lakes, off Lake Huron. I particularly like to paddle out of Killarney, the most beautiful place in the world. What's so great about Killarney? It's beyond the reach of Blackberries and cell phones. Killarney Provincial Park is where the Group of Seven did much of their painting. It's where the skull of the earth peeks through (pink granite reaches out into the clear waters of the bay). And, even at peak season, it's far from the madding crowd. Life is slow in Killarney. I sleep a lot. Read. Eat way too much home-cooked food. Hike the La Cloche range. Sail, especially under the stars. And paddle. What I don't do is check email or voice mail, or even think too much about what's going on in the busy, busy places I've left behind.
Heather Cabot, Mom blogger:
We meditate every day and have what we call a designer's lifestyle -- we design it as we go along. Our offices are at home and we are surrounded by mountains so feel pretty chilled out most of the time. Ed skies, Deb swims, and we love the gym. For those extra laid back moments? We watch the Mentalist!
Drew Pinsky, M.D., Addiction medicine specialist, host of the popular radio show Loveline and the star of the VH1 hit Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew and its spin-off Sober House:
A run in the park always re-energizes my mind and my soul. But it is taking time to really focus on my children, away from the distractions of technology, that really makes me feel alive. My own mom reminds me all the time that being a mother of young kids forces you to slow down and be present. When you are reading a story or giving the kids a bath or making cookies with them or even just dancing around the living room, you have to unplug from the rest of the world. It is one of those delightful, unexpected gifts of motherhood.
Ashley Koff R.D., Registered dietitian (R.D.), named LA's Best Nutritionist three years running:
It isn't easy. As a physician, even when I unplug from my technological matrix I still feel compelled to check in with some patients or allow access from team members at the hospital. So in the past the only time I could really unplug was in the air! Now with the advent of inflight Wifi my compulsions drag me back to my tablets, phones and other paraphenalia of my drug of choice - information. Perhaps in a more reflective moment I might consider that connectedness is really what I seek. And, in fact, real connectedness is that which we share with those we love. The rest is just so much chatter. This is why I follow my wife, Susan's, good counsel to take regular family vacations, spend time with the ones I love especially where I cannot be reached. Or at least if I should attempt to practice my addiction it would be all but impossible.
Anne Dilenschneider, Spirituality & Leadership Consultant:
I'm learning to fly fish. I have seen folks out there with their blackberries and phones, but because I can be a little clumsy, I always put mine in the wet bag and as a result get to enjoy some unplugged time. What's more, many of the places I've gone fishing don't even get service - it's pretty powerful to be in parts of the US (as well as the rest of the world) and not get service. It reminds me of where we've come and where we may be headed. I like being unplugged and recharging. I see my world just a little bit differently, and hopefully that helps me to help others see the possibility too.
Dr. Steven L. Rosenberg, Podiatrist in private practice
I shop at our organic farmer's market twice a week and cook real dinners for myself and my landlord. This all began when my landlord brought home some kale from one of our local farmers and then admitted she'd never eaten kale. So I made a dinner that included kale, and I've been cooking for both of us several times a week ever since. I choose simple meals that take some time and attention to prepare. I may make a hearty soup, a tagine, a stir fry, a roasted vegetable dish, a fall fruit crisp or cobbler. As I prepare the meal, I light a candle on my counter and remember Thich Nhat Hanh's teaching that cutting carrots is a meditation. I do this best when I work slowly and by hand, so I don't use a food processor. And, I always ask the farmers at the market about their produce that I don't recognize so I can learn to cook something new. This helps me feel connected to the earth and to our rural community.
I Unplug by watching my son play baseball, it takes me out of my world and puts me in his. It is a wonderful way to decompress and recharge!
Kay Goldstein, Clinical Psychologist and Taoist meditator:
Since I both teach and write about meditation, mindfulness and how to incorporate those practices into daily life, it's obvious that meditation would be one of the most important ways I unplug and recharge. But it is what I learned as a meditator that slows everything down for me even when I am not meditating. I find that when I simply notice what I am doing, thinking or planning instead of operating on auto-pilot, then everything seems to slow down. From that perspective, I can feel the urge to rush, to check my email one more time, to add some more items to my to do list. Resisting those urges (or addictions) can create another set of stresses, so I try not to force myself to do that. I just pay attention, take a few deep breathes and and accept what I am doing. In that moment of acceptance, it is much simpler to choose to do nothing or something that is nurturing. I find that a walk outdoors, a short nap, a good novel, a cup of tea ground me and quiet my mind. Time becomes fluid and I am often rewarded with noticing the beauty around me, the sound of a bird, the color of the maple tree, the scent of pine needles or newly cut grass. When I slow down and unplug in this way, I experience timelessness, flow and the innate intelligence of nature's rhythms.