Lefkada, Greece - For the last year now -- ever since I passed out from exhaustion, broke my cheekbone and got five stitches over my eye -- I've been working on bringing more balance in my life.
The prevailing culture still tells us that nothing succeeds like excess, that working 80 hours a week is better than working 70, that being plugged in 24/7 is expected, and that sleeping less and multi-tasking more are an express elevator to the top.
But there is a growing movement that rejects these archaic notions (in today's sped-up world, archaic means the 1980s). In fact, I'm currently reading In Praise of Slowness here on Lefkada, an extremely slow Greek Island. In Praise of Slowness is a terrific book by Carl Honore, a self-professed former "speedaholic" in which he advocates the need for a more measured existence. And, in a piece in the New York Times, recovering "techco-addict" Mark Bittman details his search for not only rest but relief from his Internet addiction disorder and points to others on the same quest.
Bittman quotes David Levy, a University of Washington professor: "Who would say you don't need time to think, to reflect to be successful and productive?"
If you are lucky, you have "a final straw moment" before it's too late. For me it was passing out from exhaustion; for Bittman it was obsessively checking his email via his in-seat phone on a trans-Atlantic flight; for Honore it was when he started reading one-minute bedtime stories to his two-year old to save time.
Since my cheekbone/final straw moment, I've become an evangelist for the need to occasionally disconnect from our always-connected lives. It has guided the editorial philosophy behind our retooled Living section -- promoting the ways that we can take care of ourselves and lead balanced, centered lives while at the same time making a positive difference in the world.
And since there is no zealot like the convert, we've decided to demonstrate that a balanced life is possible even during the most compulsively hectic days in the political calendar. So during the Democratic National Convention in Denver, HuffPost's Living section will offer harried conventioneers -- including delegates and members of the media -- a chance to unplug and recharge at the HuffPost Oasis.
The Oasis will feature complimentary yoga classes, Thai massages, hand massages, mini-facials, healthy snacks and refreshments, music, and a comfortable seating area for lounging and unwinding.
Our partner on the Oasis is Off the Mat, Into the World, a wonderful organization that promotes activism as an adjunct to healthy living. It was cofounded by Seane Corne, with whom I practice yoga when she's not traveling the world for Off the Mat. It was actually during one of our yoga sessions that the idea for the Oasis first began to shimmer.
We were talking (sorry, I know you're not supposed to talk during yoga!) about how HuffPost wanted to create a space during the convention where people could go to recharge -- and about how the need to do so becomes all the more important the busier you are. She loved the idea and quickly signed on. So did Shawn Henderson, interior designer and eBay Design Director, who is creating a great place to relax and re-energize.
So, in the midst of the convention craziness, along with bringing you the latest in convention news, scoops, gossip, and on-scene video, HuffPost will be featuring extensive coverage of all the goings on at The Oasis, including blogging and interviews about how conventioneers unplug and recharge.
Check in next week to see what happens when America's political obsessives unplug their laptops, turn off their iPhones and Blackberrys, and step into The Oasis.
On another convention front, HuffPost's OffTheBus will be presenting its Maximum Exposure Project, an undertaking that will show us in pictures what the Democratic and Republican conventions look like -- up close and personal. As such, OffTheBus is looking for ground-level observers who are planning to attend the DNC and RNC conventions, cameras in tow. We want you to snap shots of the convention as you experience it. What's happening around you? Who did you run into in the hotel lobby? At a restaurant? What was going on at a party you attended? Send us your photos or completed sideshows and we'll post them on HuffPost's OffTheBus Maximum Exposure page, which is being produced in partnership with the USC Annenberg's Center on Communication Leadership and the Institute for Photographic Empowerment. So point, shoot, and submit!
And while we are talking about OffTheBus, I'm delighted to announce that it has been nominated for "Changing the World: Top 10 In 'Net and Politics," an award given by PoliticsOnline and the World eDemocracy Forum. All of us at HuffPost are extremely proud of OffTheBus' successes. So please support the HuffPost community, and cast a vote for OffTheBus. It will only take a moment; just click here now.
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