Ignatius Jesuit Centre offering ‘Unplug to Reconnect’ retreat in April

GUELPH/ERAMOSA – Do you ever feel like your cellphone has become an appendage?

Do you feel compelled to check your phone for every beep, buzz or notification ping, even if you’re doing something else?

You are not alone, says Greg Kennedy, executive director of the Ignatius Jesuit Centre, located off Highway 6 just north of Guelph.

And there are ways to break that dependence, even while acknowledging that digital technology is a useful tool, he added.

The Jesuit Centre offers various retreats throughout the year. It also rents the facility for corporate training and groups.

Kennedy said he noticed that even during silent retreats, where there’s no talking and only inner reflection, some people could not put their phones away.

“It’s not just a teenage problem. Adults have a hard time turning off their devices too,” he said.

So Kennedy, along with mindfulness, meditation and yoga practitioner Katharine Boudreau, have created a weekend retreat called Unplug to Reconnect.

They say it will empower participants to choose their level of engagement with technology and to reconnect with nature and themselves.

Kennedy has studied the philosophy of technology and has concerns about this “replication of reality” – such as when you miss experiencing an event because you are too busy filming the event.

“We rob ourselves of the event to have the memory of the event. But we’re watching life through a screen,” he said.

“We can’t throw (our phones) out the window. That’s part of the retreat – to allow ourselves to ask how we want to engage with technology, and in life.”

Along with periods of silence, there will be presentations, group activities, guided meditation, yoga and some down time to enjoy the 640-acre property and its beauty.

Food is also important for health and well-being and the facility prides itself on its delicious food. This retreat, from April 16 to 18, will be vegetarian.

There are accommodations on site. Cost is $410 for an ensuite room (private single bedroom with three-piece washroom) or $380 for a standard room (private single bedroom with sink).

For those not staying overnight, the “commuter rate” is $275.

Kennedy said while anyone could decide to unplug for a weekend and do some deep reflection on their own, “there’s healing in being together.

“You build a sense of community and you do it with intentionality. That can help deepen our reflection.”

For more information or to register, visit ignatiusguelph.ca.