Happy New Year!
Now that the celebrations are over and you’re making plans for the year ahead, I’d like to invite you to join me at a weekend retreat by the sea this coming May. I’m really pleased to have been invited to design and run “NOT a Digital Detox: How to feel better without logging off”, a chance to reflect on our online lives and our place in nature. It takes place at the wonderful Othona Community in West Dorset, UK over the weekend of Fri 11 May – Sun 13 May 2018. £140 for two nights full board. Bursaries available. See the website for full information.
I attended a retreat at Othona a couple of years ago and really enjoyed my stay there. It’s friendly, secluded, and just a short walk from the sea. It has a long tradition of being a contemplative space and is the perfect place to gather and think together about how to live with the digital today. Find out more about Othona.
This retreat also, it seems, mirrors the current zeitgeist! Some time after we had completed our planning, the New York Times ran a piece about the West Coast Esalen Community taking a similar approach. I’ve visited Esalen several times and always loved it, but it did occasionally come over as fairly anti-technology. However, it now has a new approach and is working directly with Silicon Valley to address the challenges of the digital life. The winds are changing, friends!
Please note that you will not be asked to leave your kit at home because this isn’t a detox. It’s more like a balancing.
I’d be very grateful if you would share this announcement with your friends and colleagues to help spread the word.
Check out these photos of Othona and read on for the Catalogue entry.
What we need is more nature, not less technology
We all know that nature makes you feel good, but it’s only in the last fifty years that researchers have shown exactly what happens in our bodies when we encounter the natural world. Heart rate slows, blood pressure goes down, stress melts away and the brain is more able to concentrate.
Over the last two decades, a new passion has appeared – the World Wide Web. It gives us access to vast stores of information, millions of other people, and endless new forms of ideas and creativity, but it has also caused some to fear that the internet is taking away our vital connection with the nature world. Social media has become a particular concern.
This retreat offers a chance to reflect upon our online lives and be mindful of the ways we connect to nature and online. We will share our own experiences and try out new kinds of practices suited to this digital age.
Our guide is author Sue Thomas, who has over twenty years of experience of life online; she is convinced that nature and technology are far more connected than you might expect. This will definitely not be a digital detox!
Dr Sue Thomas was Professor of New Media at De Montfort University until 2013, and is the author of several books of fiction and nonfiction. She is a regular contributor to Orion Magazine, the US journal of nature, culture and place. She lives in Dorset and is a Visiting Fellow at Bournemouth University. Her 2017 book Nature and Wellbeing in the Digital Age explains the thinking behind her work and provides practical ways to feel better without logging off. Find out more at www.suethomas.net
This weekend is an opportunity to slow down, explore your own ways of being in the digital, and learn how to bring more nature into your home, your workplace and your online life. The beautiful house and surroundings of Othona offer the perfect setting for practical experiments and we’ll be working outdoors and indoors, with and without technology.
What to bring
You’ll be invited to bring your phone, computer, and any other piece of technology you enjoy using. We can’t guarantee reliable internet access but that’s not a problem because it lets us try some interesting online/offline experiments. If you’d rather leave your kit at home, that’s fine. And if you don’t have any to begin with, that’s ok too! Outdoor clothes and a notebook will be useful for everyone.