This article is inspired by the book “ The Power of Off” by Nancy Collier
The average person now looks at their phone around 150 times a day- that’s once every 6 minutes!! Online we are more connected than ever before, with apps telling us when to sleep, how fast we run, what to eat, how to meditate- the list is endless. Socially suicide rates are the highest they have ever been. Mental health, anxiety, stress related illness is on the rise. As humans we all want to connect but connection via a screen doesn’t fill the void. Often it makes us feel lonelier and avoids our connection ultimately to our self.
If we took a drug every 6 minutes we would be classed as having a very serious addiction and advised to seek help. We compulsively gaze at our screens- often unaware that we are doing so. Many people often start their day immediately by looking at their phone.
Take a pause and ask yourself what are you not doing as a result of all this screen time? What could you be doing instead?
We often complain that we don’t have enough time- we are too busy but imagine the time you would have if you put down your phone. Being constantly online is working against our own well being. Against our own peace of mind. We feel that we need to be available all the time. We worry that we will miss out if we are not. We mistakenly replace this sense of being “on” all the time as our purpose. It becomes an adornment of our ego, of our self-image. At a deep level our devices allow us to avoid bumping into ourselves. It’s the ultimate device for existence- “look at me, look at what I’m doing, I’m winning.” It helps us avoid the gaps, the stillness, the silence, the discomfort of just being. We have spent a lifetime as humans avoiding the present moment. It takes a phenomenal amount of mindfulness to put these gadgets down. To drop into the “now” can feel like we are dropping into a void. Suddenly we come face to face with being. We must learn a different way of experiencing self.
What we all really crave is to be at the receiving end of another’s attention. To be fully present with each other. “Relationship” is at the center of our well being. People are starving of attention- full attention from another human being. If you want to have a deep relationship with yourself and with others you must make a sacrifice. You can’t be available all the time to everyone else.
We are losing the art of contemplation. Of thinking, of being present. Our gadgets pull us away from the self-from our purpose. From our meaning.
Are You Addicted?
How does it feel to constantly be on? Do you crave stillness and quiet? Do you feel distracted? Is it hard to concentrate on a task? Do you panic if you don’t have your phone with you? Do you find it hard to relax? If you are answering yes to any of these questions, consider making some changes.
• Every time you go to use your phone- pause, W.A.I.T (why am I teching?) Ask yourself- What would I have to feel if I don’t go on my phone? What am I avoiding feeling? Stop the impulse.
• Go for a walk or exercise outside every day without your phone. Make this a habit. Engage with your surroundings, enjoy nature, say hello to a stranger, make eye contact with another human being.
• Make the first half an hour and last half an hour of everyday phone free and check in with yourself. Scan the body. Practice slow and deep breathing. Build up to switching your phone off after a certain time each evening.
• Set up a tech free zone in your house. Making the bedroom tech free is a great practice for better sleeping patterns. No phone during mealtimes is another one.
• Work towards taking a full day off from your phone each week. Contemplate who am I without it?
• Don’t take your phone to yoga or the gym. You don’t really need it in those spaces, do you?
• Leave your phone in the office during your lunch hour. Go for lunch with a colleague instead and have a conversation.
• Switch your phone off when doing tasks, work, cleaning the house.
• Encourage family time where you all put your phones away- especially on holidays or days out. Use a camera to take photos- not your phone!!
• Start a new course, hobby or exercise class in the time you have saved or go and see a friend. You will be surprised at how much more time you have now you are not on a screen.
• Start a daily meditation practice. The body is the portal to the present moment so spend time every day tuning in. Set a daily intention. Ask questions. “what do I want from this life”, “How am I doing today?”
• Spend a few minutes a day reading. The mind will get better at focusing. Its not designed to multi-task. Reading helps reset the brain and calms the nervous system.
• When you use technology use it mindfully not automatically. Don’t let it rule you. Have clear boundaries. Notice how you feel when you have had a tech filled day compared to when you haven’t. Don’t let it be habitual and without meaning.
We crave love, connection and time with each other. We need to return to our essential self. All the tech in the world can’t replace human contact. We must step into the void to truly appreciate and understand who we really are.