According to a Time Magazine article from December 2015, the average adult in the United States checks their phone 46 times a day. In this modern era, many of us are constantly connected to some type of device. Although this may make us feel we are connected to a broad network of people and ideas, what is it doing to the relationships that are shifting and forming in every moment, particularly our relationship with ourselves?
Next time you are waiting in line somewhere – the bank, post office, grocery store, a red light, coffee shop – notice if anyone else awaiting their destiny to order, pay or deliver is scro
lling through their glowing screen. Do you catch yourself having this tendency to peek and see what the world inside your phone is up to?
I can certainly be one to look at my device. In those moments of pause, of “nothing” happening, why do we reach for the electronic friend in our bag or pocket to remind us of our valuable existence?
Technology has become an addiction for many of us, filling the gap between one task and the next; or infiltrating a stream of activity, productivity or peacefulness with a ping of incoming information or communication. It is a tool that allows us to do so much and can take away from the moments when we don’t need anything to feel alive.
Technology can take away from the moments when we don’t need anything to feel alive.
I’m fascinated by my own lapse in presence that brings up the moment of checking the screen. Sometimes it’s more of an unconscious habit or nervous tick, rather than a conscious thought. Regular mindfulness practices create space in the mind which encourages the ability to witness what arises. In a moment of potential disconnect (which leads to checking the phone), with mental space, we can connect to what we know to be true and unwavering in every moment – the endless support of the Universe.
Mindfulness allows us to witness what arises, and connect with what we know to be true: the endless support of the Universe.
Here’s an affirmation you can start your day with to help prevent being taken to the screen by moments of disconnect:
Any moment I drift from the the present moment and connection to the Universe, I commit to grounding myself and returning to fullness and centeredness. I celebrate all the moments of connection I experience on a daily basis.
While house sitting alone in the woods I recently did a mini-Digital Detox. I shut my phone and computer off for a few days. On top of a day of rest from emails, texts and notifications, I refrained from reading or writing and covered the clock so I didn’t know what time it was. I wanted to remove written words and other “distractions” from my day to see what happened.
With no technology to invade my day, and no need to worry about what I “should” get done (since I wasn’t going to work on it anyway), I was free to follow my heart and body, to listen to what they needed and were called to explore and experience. I sat quietly much of the day, hearing my own breath, experiencing the stability of empty space. I went for a long walk in the warm sun and the cool winter breeze. I stretched and moved and stretched some more. I ate slowly, savoring the diversity and delicacy of flavors in my food.
I experienced the untouchable freedom of listening to the inspirations of my body and heart.
During my detox, I realized my soul misses quality time with itself. Beyond entertainment, simple company. I sat in the “nothingness” and allowed myself to be. There were moments of feeling lonely or bored and after a few moments, they passed. At one point I heard a small whisper as if a little child courageously and quietly spoke up “I miss you”.
I was surprised to realize how much I missed my own company, the meeting of mind, body, and breath in a moment of non-doing. The ease of bliss, and comfort of caring for my inner Being, the joy of deep breaths and spacious thoughts.
It can be difficult to remember our inherent worth, the authentic fullness that is not connected to accomplishing or completing anything. We can feel “seen” by others when they “like” a post, or give some evidence affirming our existence. And yet, there is nothing more satisfying than being with yourself and experiencing the ease and simplicity of fulfillment, which comes from a quiet moment of recognition that you are fantastic and loved.
Tips for Starting a Digital Detox
- Start slow, set up the day in advance, carve out the time refraining from engagement with technology.
- Turn off your devices and inform anyone who needs to know that you will be unreachable.
- Prepare by making a list of the things you love to do on a “day off” and be ready for tons of time to do them!
- Or choose less: no books, no podcasts, no clock. Be in your flow without the influence of time.
- Take mini detoxes – commit to not looking at a phone, email or social media until after a certain time of day (after breakfast, after a long walk in the morning, etc.).
- Bring awareness to your use of the devices. Set time limits for yourself, work a little, then take a break and get some fresh air.
- Encourage friends to join you in the adventure. Choose to detox together for a day and talk about your experience after.
- Vows of Silence are an excellent way to detox. Imagine your words as prayer. What are you creating in the Universe through your speech?
- Be gentle with yourself and know that you are already doing great by considering to leave technology behind for a short while!