We had the good fortune of connecting with Sebastian Slovin and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Sebastian, how does your business help the community?
Our work at Nature Unplugged is all about inspiring wellness in the digital age. The challenge we’re addressing is that (as a community and society) we’ve become over connected to technology and disconnected from ourselves, each other, and the natural world. This imbalance impacts our mental and physical health in many ways. To name a few, we’re seeing higher instances of attention disorders, isolation, anxiety, depression, suicide, sedentary lifestyles, and obesity. While this is a serious issue and challenge, we want to make it very clear that we are NOT anti-technology. In fact, we love technology! We (Sebastian and Sonya) live in the urban, high-tech world with all the wonderful conveniences that go with it. We don’t live off the grid. We’re not in a yurt in the middle of a forest. That being said, when we step back and look at our lives (and the world around us), it seems like we’ve lost our way a bit. More specifically, we’ve lost our balance. The balance between enjoying and experiencing the conveniences of modern technology and enjoying and experiencing nature. Our work is aimed at bringing the balance back. We’ve developed a unique curriculum to help individuals, families, educators and organizations break free from the clutches of technology overuse, reconnect with nature and engage with life and work in a whole new way. We do this through courses, workshops, coaching, and retreats.

Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
When we founded Nature Unplugged in 2012, the initial vision was about giving people unforgettable experiences in nature, unplugged (without phones and other distracting devices). Our original name was actually ‘Experience Nature Unplugged’. We led day trips and retreats around Southern California and abroad, incorporating practices like mindfulness and play along the way. We offered a variety of activities including hiking, surfing, snorkeling, yoga, and stand up paddling. One thing we began to notice early on, especially when working with kids, was how much of a barrier screens and devices were to getting outside and experiencing nature. Apparently the video games (apps, etc.) had gotten a lot cooler and more engaging than when we were kids with Nintendo and Sega Genesis (Mario Kart on the Nintendo 64 might still be the best video game ever created though). We thought getting families and individuals engaged in outdoor activities would be enough to curb the pull of technology and create more balance. For some of our clients that was true, but for the majority of them, the pull of technology was stronger than the pull of nature. As this trend became more apparent to us, we began to focus our attention on what this was all about. It was around that time that we started to read the growing body of research about the impact of technology on our attention and our wellbeing. We also began to more formally explore the research around the benefits of nature and how nature can act as an antidote to technology. In 2015, we had the opportunity to do a deeper dive on this. We began a graduate program studying Leadership at the University of San Diego. In addition to our studies of leadership theory and practice, organizational psychology, and group dynamics, we focused our research and thesis on how increased screen time and technology impacts one’s capacity for leadership. We were particularly interested in learning how an increase in tech use impacted skills often used in the practice of leadership. Things like face to face communication, eye contact, empathy for others, feeling emotions, the ability to hold off on short term gratification for the long term goal of the group, to name a few. We assumed based on our experiences that increased tech use would be causing the most significant issues with youth, which wasn’t entirely true. This drastic increase of tech use since smartphones became common, around 2011, has impacted us all, from iGen to Millennials to Boomers. It became apparent that most groups and generations were impacted (albeit in different ways) by increased tech use. Since starting Nature Unplugged, we’ve been offering a variety of programs to help our clients cultivate wellness in the digital age. We run retreats, teach courses, facilitate workshops, and provide coaching to individuals and families to recover from technology overuse, reconnect with nature, and bring more balance into their lives. Through this work, we’ve developed and refined a step- by- step methodology for this process we call the ENU (Experience Nature Unplugged) Method. This is what sets us apart at Nature Unplugged. Our methodology is based on research, our field work with clients, and from our own personal experiences. Our approach is a holistic one. We offer a combination of technical solutions that can be implemented right away and work that requires deep reflection, time and commitment.

Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Great question! My recommendation would be pretty simple. It would be filled with day trips to some of my favorite nature destinations. We’d pack a simple meal/snacks and hit the road. Here’s a few of my top spots: – San Dieguito Park – Swamis Beach – Swamis Meditation Garden – La Jolla Cove – Torrey Pines State Nature Reserve – Blacks Beach – Laguna Meadows (Mount Laguna) – Palm Canyon (Anza Borrego State Park)

The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I’d like to give a huge shoutout to my wife and business partner Sonya. She is a rockstar!…a beautiful rockstar.

Website: https://www.natureunplugged.com/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/natureunplugged / @natureunplugged
Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/company/nature-unplugged
Twitter: https://twitter.com/natureunplugged
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/NatureUnplugged
Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCVEZOv9fmMLndP_Gzdba4eA

Image Credits
Susan Farese

Nominate Someone: ShoutoutSocal is built on recommendations and shoutouts from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.