What Spending Time In Nicaragua Taught Me About The Right Way To Use Technology

Written by Jules Hunt

Photo by Om and the City

This year, mbg is celebrating travel that really goes the distance. Our Transformative Travel spotlights how to forge meaningful connections on the road and carry life-changing insights back home as souvenirs. Today, we’re hearing from yogi and wellness entrepreneur Jules Hunt about how a retreat in Nicaragua changed her approach to technology.

In October of 2014, I quit my draining job in the fashion industry and packed my bags for a monthlong off-the-grid adventure. I excitedly enrolled in a yoga teacher training held at an eco-resort in a small town outside of Chinandega, in Northern Nicaragua. Over those 30 days, this place became my home and safe haven.

As part of the experience, our group shared one computer, and Wi-Fi was limited to 15 minutes a day per person. They encouraged us to stay focused on our training and connect with one another without worrying about what was happening back home.

This limit, though difficult at first, taught me how to embrace disconnection, stay present in my everyday, and truly embrace myself and my passions.

Over the course of the month, I learned so much about myself. I tapped into true, authentic creativity. I didn't have social media to inspire me—all I had was nature and the people around me. I looked to my own sense of knowing instead of turning to the internet.

Photo: Om and the City

I also developed richer relationships; we all got deep with one another, fast. I was able to abandon any preconceived ideas of who each person was or the life they led at home based on how they portrayed themselves online. At the same time, I was forced to confront my emotions head-on. A lot of repressed feelings came up while I was in Nicaragua, but I couldn't run from them. I couldn't just numb it by scrolling on social media. I wrote songs, recorded journal entries, and confided in the people around me—my sounding board and my family for that month.

Although I still yearn for another month off the grid, I realize that it doesn't have to be all or nothing.

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How I try to bring the benefits of offline time back home.

Honestly, the thought of disconnecting for a full month now—as I'm running my own company from a computer—doesn't seem possible. I juggle so much that I can't just tap out for a month and abandon my responsibilities.

Although I still yearn for another month off the grid, I realize that it doesn't have to be all or nothing. I can refresh, reconnect, and tune in to myself every day simply by "unplugging" in other small ways. Here's how I'm trying to do it:

1. I maintain a tech-free bedroom.

No technology from me or my partner in our bedroom, seriously! We are sure to keep laptops, cellphones, and the TV in the living room, especially while we sleep. Also, no phones at the dinner table!

2. I have the occasional tech-free weekend.

When I really feel the comparison and addiction of tech creeping in, I occasionally take time off social media on the weekends. I refrain from checking Instagram and Facebook and stay clued in to my real, in-person life.

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3. I wear a smartwatch.

This is my trick for staying reachable but hands-free. It's easy to just glance at my watch, see that a text can wait, and move on with what I am doing.

4. I track the time.

I monitor how much time I spend on my phone using the Moment app.

5. I get outside.

I try to spend time outside every day, even if it's only for 10 minutes to connect to nature, get some fresh air, and be without my phone.

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6. I put it away while I work.

I try to keep my phone in my drawer for long stints of time during the workday and only check it during lunch breaks.

I've found that disconnecting daily, even if just for these micro-moments, makes such a huge difference in my mood and brings me back to that place of unrelenting peace and creativity.

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