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The Joys of Decoupling

A weeklong retreat beyond words and even snuggling

illustrations of woman and man in tea cups

She Tea and He Tea by Timothy Karpinski

Day 0: My husband and I chat amiably on our drive to a radical new experience for us both: a weeklong silent meditation retreat. We impulsively committed to this almost a year ago, thinking it would be a great way to support each other’s quest for deepening awareness while basking in the majestic beauty of Lake Tahoe. Our conversation ultimately reveals, however, that we’ve both been avoiding one basic precept: we must allow ourselves to decouple for the duration of the retreat.We, along with 300 other participants, have agreed not to engage verbally or even energetically with other participants, including each other. No hand signaling, note writing, eye contact, or touching. This extends to the staff who provide us food and clear our plates: no “please” and “thank you,” or even gratuities. Electronic devices are prohibited, as are books. The only technology allowed is a journal and pen. Everything has been impeccably crafted so that we have no excuses as we indulge in one of the most angst-producing privileges of our modern age: sitting and doing nothing.Admittedly, my husband and I are among the most …

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