It’s a land I get lost in, emerging fuzzy headed, unsure where the time has gone. One, two, six hours can pass, clicking from one screen to the next, getting sucked ever deeper into a maze of trivia, gossip and stories I can’t say no to. It’s an addiction – something I know doesn’t feel good, but I continue on with nonetheless.
Opportunity for digital detox presented itself in November 2012. After years of saying “not enough time” or “I’m not good enough”, I finally signed up to a yoga teacher training course in Mexico’s jungle beside the ocean.
Four weeks of aches and pains, small triumphs and a path towards more presence. I rose with the sun, shook my shoes for scorpions and made friends with the nighttime creatures – kaleidoscopic moths and preying mantises with tiny red tongues. The world revealed more each day – a new shade of green, the scent of new flowers in bloom. I had time and space to notice it all.
When time came to return to writing, my boyfriend and I decided we’d stay put. The local town had charmed us with the sound of waves, the sight of the jungle and a community we were welcomed into from first breath. We felt a part of something in San Pancho. We belonged.
I started to teach yoga in the local plaza in return for donations – fruit, massages, and chocolate – an economy of give and take. I did use the computer, but my relationship to it changed. I used it to write and to work. I no longer found myself lost.
Those six months in San Pancho were golden, shining with memories of dear friends, daily sunsets on the beach, and the certainty that we were exactly where we wanted to be. We could have stayed forever, we almost did – coming within an inch of buying land – but instinct caused us to pause.
We weren’t ready to put down roots. The call of the world still sounded and unanswered doubts lingered on. We didn’t need to rush, to “lock it down” or make it fixed. San Pancho had shown us we could feel at home in a world far from the place we were born. It was a planetary experience and not one that needed to be grasped at.
A year later, and the lessons of San Pancho live on. It taught me the importance of community, of support and friendship beyond the screen, and of the power of nature to refresh, revitalize and heal. It made me revel in the details – the sounds, the scents, the sights. As Eden Philpotts so beautifully said: “The universe is full of magical things waiting for our wits to grow sharper.”
My wits did grow sharper in Mexico and they have strengthened ever since. Old habits still fight on and time sometimes slips into mindless moments, but less so than the time before. This work is a process not a pill.
Time is teaching me that happiness comes from gratitude, noticing and appreciating each moment, and being mindful of how you live your life. Of course there will always be things we like less, but those moments are balanced by their necessity and the moments of things we love.
Those halcyon days in San Pancho were rich with happiness and mindful moments – time I knew was beautifully spent. When you taste that experience – that possibility and potential – the opposite becomes ever more acrid. I still sometimes get lost in my computer, I sometimes even choose to, but I always come back to the sweetness and the pursuit of being present. It’s a new addiction. It’s mindfulness.
About the Author: Victoria Watts is a writer, blogger and nomad from London. She lives to explore the world and the many paths (and cakes) within it. Read about her adventures on her blog Bridges and Balloons.
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