In our digitally-driven culture, the opportunity to disconnect and reflect can feel like an uncommon luxury. But time and space to unplug are essential; just as clutter distracts us, a daily barrage of emails and alerts keeps us from tuning in to our inner voices.
Recharging in nature has always sparked joy for Marie. The outdoors are her sanctuary, and she carves out time to practice Shinrin-yoku (the Japanese custom of forest bathing), or to visit onsens whenever she returns to Japan.
Getaway, a startup founded by Harvard grads Jon Staff and Pete Davis, offers cozy cabins nestled in nature to help people restore balance. The benefits of spending time in nature – disconnected from devices and to-do lists – are immense: Our brains relax, our intuition sharpens and our ability to connect with ourselves and others is fortified.
“Getaway is about ensuring we have leisure in our lives so we can meaningfully connect with other people and ourselves.”
Doing Less Is Doing More
Getaway embraces a “less is more” approach, and their tiny cabins are intentionally minimal. Tidy and compact, they come stocked with essentials that would make any urbanite feel comfortable in the great outdoors, from soft towels to sachets of pour-over coffee. What they don’t have is WiFi or reliable cell service.
It’s not just things that are kept to a minimum; doing less is also encouraged. In their book, “How To Get Away: Finding Balance in Our Overworked, Overcrowded, Always-On World,” founders Jon and Pete make the case for breaks and boredom. Periods of active rest or reverie – when we are pleasantly lost in unguided thought – illuminate inner truths and fuel creativity; they even stimulate our default mode network, a circuit of the brain that only lights up when we daydream. “When we experience deep leisure,” they write, “we escape our inner frenzy and enter into a receptive relationship with the world…We discover all of the many dimensions of life that get hidden in the day-to-day bustle.”
The panoramic windows in every Getaway cabin frame uninterrupted views that restore our focus and replenish our ability to pay attention. Activity in the natural world, like birds zooming among the trees or leaves rustling in the wind, provides just enough stimulus to engage the brain without distracting us from deeper thought.
“Even a night or two in nature allows you to come back to your daily life re-energized.”
Embrace Spontaneity to Hone Your Intuition
Getaway isn’t in the business of creating experiences; rather, they give guests the tools to create their own. “What you get out of your stay is entirely up to you,” Jon tells us. “It could be an opportunity to bask in the rare circumstance of not having to do anything.” To remove the emphasis from pre-planning, Getaway sends cabin details and directions to guests a week before their arrival date. Once they’ve arrived, an illustrated guidebook offers suggestions of things to do – like making shadow puppets or identifying wildflowers – that are intentionally chill.
By encouraging guests to use intuition as their guide – rather than a detailed itinerary or crowd-sourced list – a Getaway stay is much like a tidying festival. Tidying is the act of confronting ourselves, and when we strip down and simplify, we are given an opportunity to reflect on our habits and listen to our thoughts. Unstructured and unscripted time in nature creates the space to explore what sparks joy. When we embrace spontaneity and take a break from our usual routine, we may discover new ways of being that serve our higher good.
Make a Habit Out of Taking Breaks
A night or two at a Getaway cabin is not the same as a digital detox, nor is it intended to be. “This is a bite-sized endeavour,” says Jon. “And it’s not meant to be intimidating. We want our guests to make a habit out of taking breaks, whether it be with Getaway or by taking walks in the park on their lunch breaks.”
If guests take away anything from their Getaway experience, Jon hopes it’s the importance of integrating periods of deep leisure and disconnection into their lives. “Even a night or two – although it doesn’t sound like much – allows you to come back to your daily life re-energized,” Jon says. “It gives you a chance to think about what really matters.”
Unlike the way some Silicon Valley types approach meditation, Getaway isn’t designed to be another tool for optimization. “Our message isn’t, ‘Go refuel so you can crush it at work!’” says Jon. “A big part of humanity isn’t tied to work. At its core, Getaway is about ensuring we have leisure in our lives so we can meaningfully connect with other people and ourselves.”