How long since you lived a whole day without checking your phone? A whole week? The push-pull of our relationship to social media creates ripe territory for reflection, providing an opportunity to find mindful rituals for consuming the fast-paced digital world.
It's so easy to get sucked into mindless scrolling, especially during 'rest-times' – moments that we could instead choose to spend mindfully - like meal times, before bed, in short breaks during out busy days. Often, the reflex to grab the phone while waiting in line comes from a sheer inability to spand a moment doing nothing. We might ask ourselves why? What makes the act of doing nothing so unbearable?
We might also admit (lovingly) to ourselves the small irony that very likely if we're consuming this blog article, there's an interest in mindfulness, perhaps meditation or Yoga as well. So, we take time to insert pockets of mindful activity into our full schedules but miss out on the many small moments during the day when we could choose to relax our brain, to enjoy the exquisite quiet of a moment of just...being. Even while waiting in line.
This is a challenge in the midst of the swirl of daily life, but we have even witnessed the struggle of tuning in and dropping out completely while on retreat: often, our retreat participants can't quite seize the opportunity given and unplug completely, instead clinging to the thread of connection to the outside world that the smartphone vortex offers. This has given us pause and we wonder: wouldn't it be magical to organize a retreat specifically to help detox from social media? A week of conscious and total unplugging...? Who's in?
None of these musings are intended to stoke a feeling of guilt – rather, to encourage an approach to our plugging-in that comes from a deep compassion and love for ourselves, with our own health and wellbeing in mind. And let's not forget the many beautiful faces of social media! It helps us to stay connected to loved ones far away, creates a sort of global tribal mentality based on shared interests and ideals, inspires and moves us and gives us powerful tools for growing our voice, our brand, our work...there's so much to be celebrated, too!
The call then is simply for a conscious harnessing of the positive aspects of the medium, combined with a healthy restraint or discipline grown from self-love and a desire to keep the wide spaces of our minds and hearts decluttered and clear.
Some concrete suggestions to make a shift to mindful plugging-in:
Start the day offline
When you wake up, leave your phone turned off for the first hour if possible. Do your morning ritual without immediately adding new information to your system that's still fresh from the night. Let the first things you do and see be in real time: a delicious cup of tea or coffee, a movement or meditation practice, a few moments just to BE with yourself.
When you eat, just eat. Let the complexity of the flavors, the joy of nourishing your body be enough. Or share your meal with a friend and enjoy a real-time conversation!
Take tiny meditations
Make those moments of waiting in line, at the traffic light or in the waiting room part of your practice: relax your mind and body for a minute and observe how your energy-reservoir is refilled. If possible, close your eyes, and minimize the influences from the outside, instead taking a brief bath in glorious stillness.
Wind down and unplug
At the very end of your day, take at least 30 minutes before bed with your phone off, screens dark to enjoy an analog moment: reading a book, spending time with loved ones or yourself or simply enjoying an herbal tea and a lighted candle to quiet the mind and prepare for sleep.
Be kind to you
Most important of all, maintain a connection to self-love and be patient with yourself. Make all changes to your routine not out of a desire for self-optimization, but rather out of a rooting in yourself, a desire to live your life richly and to be fully present in each precious moment.
Photos: Sanjin Kastelan and Jennifer Arndt