“Technology is a useful servant but a dangerous master.” – Christian Lange
Despite being considered a Millennial, one thing I am not, is someone who loves technology or social media. I grew up with friends having computers and cell phones. But I did not. While it takes me longer to learn some new technology, I rather prefer my apprehension towards all things digital. I am one of those people who eventually after that technology has been around for a while, discover it and tell everyone I know (Fit Bit anyone?).
Last year I attended three meditation retreats that involved turning in your cell-phone. The first time I turned in my phone, I felt such sweet relief. Like all this excess of distraction, had been extricated from me. So, when I got my cell phone back, I was flooded with anxiety and literally wanted to throw it away. I raged against the fact that I couldn’t.
I now lived in a world, where I could not function without this apparatus always around.
Fast forward, by the third retreat, I moved from anxiety about my phone, to complete neutrality. And this transformation only came about because I had become so intrigued with my relationship to my phone. How could this inanimate object have so much power over me? Who owned who? Thus, began a journey of removing my dependence on my phone. This included all sorts of experiments, like keeping my phone in another room, literally ignoring texts, then deleting texts, and deleting Instagram.
This process has taught me I can 100% appreciate my phone and all that it has to offer, as long as I employ strict boundaries. Here is what I noticed: when I have Instagram downloaded onto my phone, I take any dull moment as an opportunity to scroll mindlessly. That isn’t cool! First of all, it’s a major time suck, second of all the brain NEEDS to be comfortable with boredom. I love my brain, it works so doggone hard for me. I can’t constantly flood it with images, it needs a break.
When I road trip, I am my hubby’s co-pilot. Road trips inherently have boring periods. I used to get on my phone and scroll and scroll and scroll. And then I realized I actually felt like absolute shit. Like my brain actually hurt. My brain was telling me it does not appreciate constant screen time. In fact, it drains my soul. So now when I road trip, I am learning a novice activity: to look up and out of the windows. To see the rolling hills, to catch the bear scampering back into the woods, to count bald eagles in the trees, to see the world.
And I’ve come full circle with this annoying little gadget. I now see the utility and joy my phone brings to me. For example, I love cooking and listening to podcasts. I also love downloading music and creating playlists. I love falling asleep to my meditation app.
All that possible with lovingly, extracting myself from my phone so that I can be present in this life.