A PERSONAL REPORT
I could talk about my digital detox exchange in Germany all day but couldn’t possibly capture everything that I have experienced. It all happened so unexpectedly and, of course, I didn’t read what it was all about when I signed up.
The only thing I knew for sure at that moment was that I was going to the Black Forest. As I was learning more about the project, I realized that it was all about digital detox and learning about life in a community, personal growth workshops and connecting with nature. I felt like the program was made for me.
During the first Zoom meeting, I met girls from Slovenia who had a really special energy. And there we were, leaving for Germany on a rainy morning. We enjoyed the journey so much that I immediately felt that something extraordinary was waiting for me.
A small village without a shop or a cafe, surrounded by fields, pastures and forest brought a sense of peace, and Jana’s embrace a feeling of being at home.
First, I wanted to see what the forest was like. Špela (another mushroom enthusiast) and I hurried to find some mushrooms and gathered so many in our first three minutes that we couldn’t carry them back.
The spruces create such darkness that the light barely reaches the ground, so the only undergrowth is moss in all shades of green. It’s no wonder why they call it the Black Forest.
As we returned, the other participants from Germany, Italy and France were slowly making their appearance as well. We took some time to get to know each other. The beginnings were rather shy. You give some people a hug while others just shake your hand.
However, we were all on the same side, in the evening we disconnected from our crazy world, put our phones in the chest and only had each other. No TV, no radio, no phones, no worries.
The days were filled with activities. Every morning we were able to attend silent morning meditation and qigong. I attended them several times, because this was how I grounded myself and started the day full of energy.
We were preparing breakfast ourselves and each team did their best. We also used the mornings to form a circle in which we shared our feelings and fully accepted them.
Then we helped the community with their chores. We harvested crops, weeded, helped with the livestock, cooked, talked to the cows, sewed… Afterwards, we had lunch, which was mostly the product of our work. The kale you picked in the morning was already eaten in the lasagna we had for lunch. The food was vegan and vegetarian, full of interesting combinations and flavours.
After lunch, we had various workshops such as identification of edible plants, mushroom picking, workshops on emotions and how to express them, a medicine walk in the forest, etc. At the equinox in the evening, we sat by the fire and told each other the things which we are grateful for and at the same time burned everything that did not serve us.
We also prepared thematic evenings with the characteristics of our countries. This evening was really something special for me, because the girls and I really enjoyed the process. We prepared the traditional Slovenian stew “jota” and “štrudel” with the characteristics of “Prekmurska gibanica”. We decorated the table with bouquets of flowers, candles and turned off the light. We wore long dresses with wreaths of flowers on our heads, held candles in our hands, and sang a characteristic Slovenian song “Pastirče mlado” upon arrival. It was a really memorable moment, because we managed to bring the sincere homeliness that we have in Slovenia to the place.
It’s interesting how a “bubble” with warm-hearted people, nature, peace,… gives you the opportunity to learn something new about yourself. I got to know some of my colours that I didn’t know before…I discovered and even stronger connection with the forest and plants and the power of the morning silence. I learnt about setting boundaries, accepting differences, fully letting go and allowing myself to be who I am with all my strengths and emotions.
I was lucky because of the way I felt in the garden and next to the forest. I felt at home. Every day I collected seeds, learnt what I could collect, examined active ingredients of various flowers and herbs, asked a million questions, picked mushrooms, and had people around me that I could trust.
I would say that I didn’t miss my phone, but like everyone, I did miss something and that was music. We were listening to vinyl records, and it got so far that one day we were all singing and humming some of our tunes and this also happened: “I know it’s your turn to do the dish-washing, but can I do it instead and you play and sing?”
Wherever I go, my heart and my head play…and whenever the music is taken from me, I feel like someone has taken away an enormous part of me. I used to worry so much. I tried to put myself in certain frames to find out whether I was a good enough singer…but today I see that when I sing from my soul I can give, receive, feel.
And then there were those beautiful evenings. When we sat in a circle, each with their own instrument and created magic with our voices. When I just closed my eyes and let my voice and body let go, something inside me shifted. Every now and then I looked around and saw such beautiful scenes of people who were able to let go of everything. And I realized that we are so unbelievably confined to certain ideals of what should be beautiful, good, and above all, that we don’t know how to let go.
That’s why I just want to give the world more nature, music, and flowers. And to myself, peace, simplicity, and the feeling that I’m enough. And when the chest with phones, computers and all this digital stuff was opened on the last day… you won’t believe it, but everyone wanted to be the last one to join this crazy world of ours. Social networks weaken our connection with ourselves, but if we know how to use them for inspiration and connection, we can find a lot of good in them.
Comments of others:
I remembered who I was. (Irene)
Everything is happening to get the chance to grow. (Liliana)
It’s good to connect with people internationally and see that humans have all the same needs, problems and joys. (Niklas)
Here’s also our beautiful album we created during our stay at the Black Forest.