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Going Off the Grid


Last fall, my husband and I took a different kind of vacation. He was three months out of major knee surgery, so our traditional trip — escaping to mountain country for a week of strenuous all-day hikes — was not an option. Nevertheless, we still wanted to experience the healing powers of Nature, albeit without the hiking bit (and ideally, more healing), so it was time to chart new territory. This is how we ended up unpacking our bags in a teepee on the edge of Navajo lands outside Flagstaff, Arizona for four days at Restival.

Restival is a wellness-focused part-retreat-part-festival that takes place in remote, “off the grid” and often sacred locations, spaces where guests can disconnect from the stresses of urban life and re-connect to themselves and each other.

In today’s modern world, we’re over-stimulated, and it’s causing major stress to our nervous systems. The benefit of disconnecting, or “de-excitement,” in the words of Restival Founder Caroline Jones, is a deep calming of the nervous system, which takes us out of “flight or fight mode” and establishes a sense of safety and security in body and mind.

This calming of the nervous system is the mechanism behind the deep sense of relaxation and clarity of mind one can feel after yoga or meditation. From a psychological standpoint, this state is necessary for progress towards self-actualization, as set forth in the popular theory Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. When we feel supported, nurtured and safe in our bodies, we are free to focus our attention on personal development. After all, it’s a lot easier to meditate on how to be a better person when you don’t have to drive in traffic and manage a workload and household, all the while responding to a zillion pings from your phone throughout the day.) Restival invites us to do a digital detox, embrace JOLO, the Joy of Missing Out, and invite the best version of ourselves possible to come out to play.

But first, as I’ve mentioned in my earlier post, Restival is hardly missing out. Five star accommodations with 24-hour on-site hospitality staff, three meals a day of healthy, chef-driven food — including a truly excellent morning and afternoon coffee bar and evening wine bar make it so that there is virtually no routine detail you need to worry about. On top of that, Restival invites top healing professionals, artists and teachers from around the world who offer classes you can take either in a group setting or one-on-one. Instead of worrying about making where to get your next meal, walking the dog, and laundry, you can devote your time to Restival’s  impressive roster of activities.

Or you can choose to simply be.

Against the backdrop of a magnificent landscape like the painted desert, beneath a sky full of stars so bright and without distractions from our “on the grid” devices, it is hard not to be inspired to make different choices than what you might do in “normal” life. That could take the form of trying something new, like taking a class you’ve been curious about but intimidated to try, such as crystal healing or a sound bath. Or, for those addicted-to-busy folks out there, it might be resisting the urge to fill your day from dawn to dusk with activities and enjoying free time. What a concept.

For us, it was a little bit of both. Highlights included psychic readings, bodywork, and Navajo horsemanship (me); meditation and sweat lodge (him), plus a lot of lingering free time. We met fascinating people, made some new friends, and returned home feeling rested, refreshed and rejuvenated. It got us thinking about rest in a whole new way.

Traditional yoga classes will end with Final Relaxation Pose, also know as “Corpse Pose”, or Savasana in Sanskrit. You lay on your back, arms along your sides, and, with your eyes closed and the lights off, practice deep relaxation. It is considered to be the most important poses of all the asanas because it calms the brain and relieves stress. It is also considered the most challenging pose because lets face it–deep relaxation isn’t easy to just do. To achieve this state of rest takes time, and contrary to what the appearance of the pose might suggest, you actually have to give it attention. But, rest gets short shrift in today’s busy modern lifestyle, so it should come as no surprise that people will often skip this last pose in an effort to get out of the studio early and on with their busy day.

Four days off the grid at Restival was a powerful reminder of the importance of rest–the need to give attention to and make time for it–as part of a healthy, balanced lifestyle

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