I recently visited a luxurious spa hotel in the beautiful archipelago of Sweden. The surroundings were magnificent, the rooms spacious, the service great and in the air a sense of complete relaxation among the privileged visitors, most of which had left the big city to visit this oasis for just a day or two. But wait — there was something else too. Perhaps it wasn’t pure relaxation that circulated in the air. There was also the subtle, bitter taste of demand for that relaxed state. The chase for it. We had all spent $400 per night, taken the trip to a remote area, turned off notifications and brought with us that book we haven’t gotten around to for the past 6 months. In other words: conditions are perfect! Now we simply must be granted that ultimate state of bliss, don’t we?

As we arrived in the late afternoon on the first day, we quickly changed into the provided bathrobes. This is how you blend in with the other chasers. You are free to walk around all day in public looking like you normally do in the private of your home on a lazy Sunday morning without being judged since everyone else looks just as disheveled. We immediately took a walk, breathed in the fresh air, tried getting familiar with the place. We started to feel the calmness setting in. “Is this it?”, we pondered. The feeling we’ve been waiting for. Paid for. Maybe, but soon we had to get ready for dinner. Thoughts started swirling around in our semi-relaxed minds: Did we book a table? Are we guaranteed ocean view so that we maximize the experience, or did other guests get there before us? How about tomorrow, did we book the right activities? Can yoga fit in between the meditation and the fabulous breakfast buffet? Is there time for a relaxing walk in the woods before the spa treatments, or do we have to postpone? And surely we should make use of all the racquet courts and lessons offered to us! It would be foolish not to, right? RIGHT?? But when? The gym also looks nice. And what about the book, what about the 600 pages of pure relaxing joy that awaits, can those be squeezed in before dinner? AND WAIT, DID WE TAKE AND POST THE RIGHT PICTURES TO SHOW EVERYONE JUST HOW MUCH WE’RE DISCONNECTING AND RELAXING??

Or… Is there an alternative approach to this? Can we choose to be aware of our own and all of society’s obsession with the idea of disconnecting? And then accept that we won’t have time for both the round of golf and the deluxe spa package on the same day. Maybe the spa will be more enjoyable simply because we had to sacrifice something else. Maybe we can consciously set a low bar ahead of our retreats and holidays. Can one extra hour of sleep and 15 pages read per day be a good enough outcome, and everything else a sweet bonus?

That said, I still have my 600 unread pages waiting for me, so I better get going. But first, the daily meditation. And the workout, of course. And…