I recently did some volunteer work at place in San Antonio called Blue Hole. During the tour, our guide explained that the area we were working in was a sanctuary for environmental, spiritual and educational values. Some would come to reflect and meditate, others would walk the paths around the grounds. It was very quiet and peaceful.
Merriam-webster.com defines a sanctuary as "a place of refuge and protection." During that day I began to wonder how many people seek out sanctuary in the digital world. We live in an over-connected world of technology. My RSS feed has 36,771 unread articles at the time of this writing. Our phones, tablets and computers are connected to the Internet all day everyday. And now our watches will be connected to tracking our pulse and other movements. Is there any chance we can find refuge? I think we can and if we do so on a regular basis, our online persona improves as well.
Clear Away Technology
The first thing I do to achieve sanctuary is the dial back the technology around me. I don't have a permanent computer on my desk. I have a laptop where I compose and edit anything I need. But the cables are tucked away when they are not in use. This leaves a clean, work area for whatever I want to tackle.
The area where all my activities are started and planned I call my mission control center. It might sound a bit strange at first, but in the book How to Live the James Bond Lifestyle by Paul Kyriazi he describes this area as a table or desk where you can have about 6 feet square surface area available to you. This area is clean of any articles and dust and will remain forever clean no matter what condition the rest of your surroundings are in. Period. The reason why you do this, is this space represents your mind in the physical world.
With technology tucked away and a clean space to work, explore more analog things. For me it started with a very nice leather cigar journal by wife gave me for Christmas. Then I found an interesting in the using quality writing instruments starting with fountain pens and then quill pens and the ink that is associated with them.
I then found the desire to journal more than just cigars. I have journals on coffee, plants, household items, travel and even a journal on the notion of love. You might wish to bring musical instruments into this area to compose a tune. You don't have to be proficient just something to take your thoughts away from the everyday. Books on various topics of interest also fit naturally into this area.
Study Something Different
It's important to study something outside your normal workload. I have several areas of interest going on at any given time. I am currently going through books on literature and philosophy. The idea here is to wake up and stimulate other areas of your brain. It's important to study subjects that operate at a different rhythm than your normal routine. Or, as Sheldon Cooper from the T.V. show The Big Bang Theory put it, "... where my basal ganglia are occupied with a routine task, freeing my prefrontal cortex to work quietly in the background on my problem."
But more than just silly dialogue, I will look for solutions, comments about problems and reasoning in these extra-curricular studies and test them against situations I am currently facing. The inspiration to look at things from a different point of view based on a quote, dialogue or illustration about gardening, for example, might be just the thing to help me solve a problem in technology. It's changing the way material relates to one another.
Plan it Out and Commit to it.
Planning out time for refuge is equally important as the other tasks in your life. I have started to keep a calendar / planner with me. I put down key items I need to accomplish. Putting time in for sanctuary needs to be one of them. It's true you might have to move or alter the time slot. However, it's important to commit to it. You owe it to yourself and your personal well being. It might be first thing in the morning or something before you retire for the evening.
This is something I have personally included in my daily routine. I have put it on the calendar, but often other things get in the way. However, having it there reminds me that it's something I need to do during that day or calendar week.
Seeking sanctuary is a key aspect to remaining connected to our digital world. When done right, it can broaden horizons and illuminate new ideas. It's important to do it on purpose as it's not something that will likely just happen on its own. But when you give your brain a something else to focus on, you might be surprised with the ideas that come to mind.
As I unclutter my life I free myself to answer the callings of my soul. - Dr. Wayne Dryer
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So, what do you think? Did I miss anything? Is any part unclear?