Technology is a tool for humans. To make our life better. Does it feel like you've become the tool, instead?
We, at the Himalayan Writing Retreat felt that way, and so our founder, Chetan Mahajan tried an experiment. He went offline for a week. No mobile phone. No laptop. Not even email.
Seven days later he was a changed man. The need for technology had diminished. Things he had not done with the kids and family reappeared. His relationship with his wife improved. The quality of conversations, his attention span, anxiety levels - everything had changed. In addition, he read one and a half books in seven days.
The impact was so powerful, we now want to offer this opportunity to those looking to unplug. So we've created India's first digital detox getaway. You can call it Digital Upvas. Or Digital Vipassana. You get the idea.
How the Digital Detox week works is simple. Arrive on a Sunday, and turn in your phone, laptop and any other piece of communicative technology (cameras are okay). Better yet, don't bring your devices.
Then spend this digital detox week in the Indian Himalayas at a five-star rated learning centre. For company you will have a family of four, two dogs, and your fellow participants. All meals, stay and snacks are taken care of.
During the Digital Detox week, we will do a series of offline activities which involve all five senses. We'll do a live music session with a professional Musician. We cook with a chef and eat together. You reconnect with yourself through journalling led by a psychologist. Those who want can choose to cycle with a Champion. (for profiles of the activities & experts, scroll down) Or go for long walks. Silence may become your friend. The forests and snow-capped mountains are sources of inspiration.
We just won't turn on a device.
In addition to these activities, we'll also define for ourselves how much room we will allow for technology in our lives after we return. We will draw up a plan on how we will engage with technology and social media. We'll draw from books about the best approaches, and how we can plan our lives to make them better.
While on detox, you will have access to the small library at the retreat. You are welcome to play the many board games we have, such as Scrabble, Risk etc. You can also take on more physical pursuits such as Badminton and Basketball (we have a half court). Feel free to bring your offline hobby material with you : bring books, musical instruments, art material or anything else that you love and have missed. Anything that isn't intrusive is welcome.
Note: We don't serve alcohol. You are free to bring your own, but we recommend you bring liquor/ other intoxicants only in moderation. You don't want to replace one addiction with another.
The program is open to all individuals capable of traveling alone. The venue is the Himalayan Writing Retreat. Participants love this place the events held here. They say nice things. To read participant reviews of the Himalayan Writing Retreat, click here.
Co-ordinators : This is not a course of study. It is experiential. Unlike a workshop, there are no classes. Instead we will have a planned activity for a couple of hours each day. Besides that, you have a lot of free time to do offline things and to reflect.
The structure and design of this Digital Detox week is the work of Vandita and Chetan. They will also lead / co-ordinate all activities. Vandita and Chetan are a couple, who co-founded the Himalayan Writing Retreat four years ago.
Dr. Vandita Dubey is a US trained Clinical psychologist. She is the author of "Parenting in the age of Sexposure"(Rupa, 2016).
Chetan Mahajan is an author, blogger and writing coach. He teaches writing and also writes columns for Brunch, Mint , Readers Digest, Outlook Magazine and Hindu Business Line.
When: November 1-8, 2020
Where: The Himalayan Writing Retreat, Satkhol Village. Uttarakhand – 263138 (India). This retreat is rated 5-star on both Google and Facebook by 100 people. Click here for venue photos and travel information.
How much : INR 35,000 29400+ GST ( 7 days, 7 nights, single room). This inaugural price is only for the November first week Detox.
We are not asking people to share. However, if you wish to come with a companion and prefer to share a room, then we will charge a rate of 45,000+GST for the shared room (22.5 k each). If you decide to take individual sessions with Dr. Dubey, or one-on-one yoga sessions, those will be extra.
Note: All participants are required to take a Covid RTPCR test within 72 hours of their arrival. This is our rule, and is irrespective of the government's stance on the matter. In case you test positive, we will give you a full refund of your advance payment. We will need a copy of the test report either way.
How to attend : Pay 50% of the workshop fee to secure your spot. You can pay the balance on arrival at the retreat. Email us your questions at Namrata@himalayanwritingretreat.com .
Only six rooms will be given out on a first-come first-served basis. Scroll down to read details of how the digital detox week works.
Digital Detox week - Program
Inform everyone that you will be out of touch and inaccessible for the next week. Create the Digital Detox week "Out of office" message. The message can go something like this:
Sometimes technology fries our brains. I am at the point where I need to un-fry.
I will be on a digital detox break for seven days. I will take a break from technology and devices from Monday October 26th till Monday the 2nd of November, 2020. I will not be checking email or Whatsapp nor receiving calls. I'll be off the grid for these seven days. I hope to reconnect with some important aspects of my life which I have been ignoring.
Please be patient in my absence. Whatever it is, I am sure it can wait.
If your communication / concern cannot wait a week, please get in touch with ________. "
Set up a voicemail / call forwarding on your phone as well on similar lines.
Day-0 (October 25 )
Arrive. Turn in your laptop, tablet, mobile and any other computing device you may have carried. Do not ask for the wi-fi password. We wont tell you. In lieu of your devices you will be provided with paper, pencil, and a book on the impact of technology on our lives, and how to manage it.
The rest of the day you walk, read, mingle. Soak in the view of the snow-capped peaks.
Those who reach in the morning can enjoy a walk through the forest, and spend time with themselves / others.
Everyday we will do one or two activities of 1-2 hours. These will include the following, but not in this particular order:
In this, we ask basic questions like what do we care for and see how much time we spend on the things we claim to care for. Dr. Vandita Dubey, a US Licensed Clinical Psychologist leads this activity. She is also the author of "Parenting in the age of sexposure." and leads the Emotional Well being workshop at the Himalayan Writing Retreat.
Find, cook & eat
We might start with a short game to get our ingredients together. Then we will collectively cook a meal for ourselves. Nitin Dayalu, a chef from IHM Bangalore will lead this session. Nitin is is also a professional cheese-maker and entrepreneur. He started making and selling "Old Hill" cheese in Mukteshwar three years ago.
A Musical Morning
One morning will be an interactive music session led by Rohit. Anyone with musical talent is welcome to bring their instruments. We have guitars and a keyboard on site.
Rohit Bhusan is currently based in the Mukteshwar area. Rohit is a multi-instrumentalist and Music producer and goes by the name InternalEye. Crafting ambient and electronic soundscapes, InternalEye has always held a deep connection with music. Having gotten his start by playing the guitar in various bands during his early twenties, InternalEye went on to study along side audio engineers, only furthering his skillset and knowledge for producing music.
Cycle / walk / explore
We will head out on cycles, on foot, or even in a car. The nearby forest reserve is a hundred years old wilderness area full of wildlife. The cycling crew will be led by Rakesh Rana, our resident cycling champion. Rakesh is an expert cyclist and has won many races.
The mint wrote about Rakesh Rana - you can read it here.
Bottling the Genie
Three sessions of 1-2 hours each. In these sessions we'll talk about what technology means to us. We discuss how it helps us, and what it destroys. We then take learnings and try out tools to create a blueprint for life after digital detox.
Chetan Mahajan will lead these sessions. Chetan is a writing coach and entrepreneur, and leads the Creative Writing Course at the Himalayan Writing Retreat. A former corporate type, Chetan holds an MBA Degree form the Kellogg School of Management and another from Panjab University, Chandigarh.
In addition to these activities, participants are free to walk around, read, play games - both board games as well as physical. We may also watch a documentary or two about the impact technology has on our lives.
Day 7 (November 1)
Feedback forms, Breakfast and departure by 11 AM.