Laurie Cousins, Meditation and Mindfulness Teacher for Evenflow Meditation. Evenflow is a new meditation and mindfulness platform designed by a leading team of mindfulness-based therapists. They offer users the opportunity to tailor their practice to exactly what they need right now— the kind of personalized attention they would get from a teacher, counselor or coach. If you think you may have a technology addiction or just want to unplug from your digital devices more often, read on…
In today’s always-connected world, it can be hard to fully shut down and spend quality time offline. From work emails to scrolling through social media, screen time can take over our lives and our minds. Putting the brakes on the desire to constantly stay plugged in takes mindful practice, but leads to a more balanced lifestyle.
What did you do before digital devices?
How did you take time to unwind, relax, and connect?
Can you remember what it was like before there were things like binge watching Netflix, surfing social media sites, or mindlessly playing on smartphones?
Perhaps you’ve already set an intention to limit your screen time. But for many of us, the idea of unplugging from our digital devices not only seems impossible but can give us a sense of anxiety or panic.
Can I be addicted to technology?
Currently there is a debate whether technology can be considered an actual addiction and the science is still its infancy but Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation states, “Technology addiction can be defined as frequent and obsessive technology-related behavior increasingly practiced despite negative consequences to the user of the technology.”
See for yourself. Do you find that you automatically take your smartphone out when you really don’t need it? Like standing in line at the bank, waiting for a friend, watching a show, checking your emails and text in the middle of the night or while driving, even though you justify that you are almost at the red light?
Business Insider reported that:
88% Of U.S. Consumers use mobile devices as a second screen while watching TV
67% of cell owners find themselves checking their phone for messages, alerts, or calls — even when they don’t notice their phone ringing or vibrating.
Some 18% of cell owners say that they do this “frequently.”
Why do we need a break from our digital devices?
Multiple studies have shown that an over-connection to digital devices can cause negative effects on our mental and physical health, such as sleep disorders, less focused, narcissism, physical inactivity, need for instant gratification, depression and loneliness.
Being addicted might be too strong a term for some of us, but many can admit that there is a dependency or unconscious habit to constantly seek stimulation by staying plugged into the digital world.
Even if our intentions are to take a little escape, relax or connect with others on our devices, when we are overusing them and not being present with our experiences, it does the opposite and can create stress.
But there are benefits to using technology too. We can monitor our diets, track our fitness, manage appointments/calendars, and overall medical healthcare. So maybe technology itself is not the problem, but our relationship with it.
Can mindfulness help me unplug?
Mindfulness allows us to step out of automatic pilot and observe our experience while it is happening which helps to give us perspective and choice. We can choose our time with technology and find a sense of balance. Science confirms that meditation can significantly help break unconscious behaviors.
Begin to find more balance with your digital world with this simple 3-part exercise by exploring the 3 P’s: Purpose, Presence, Practice.
- Be purposeful with your relationship to technology instead of habitual. Set an intention of how you would like to change some areas that you feel are excessive. Create a plan. Perhaps only checking your emails and social media 3 times a day. Choosing a periods of time where you completely unplug. Placing your phone in a new places so you need to be more mindful when you go to it. Write down what you would like to differently and post it where you can read it everyday as a reminder.
- Cultivate awareness by taking Mindful Moments or Breathing Breaks throughout the day. When you have an urge to go to a digital device, go to your senses – notice sounds, colors, smells. Take some deep breaths, look around at your surrounding with a sense of wonder and curiosity, and take time to actually meditate. Investigate what is going on inside and be present with yourself. If you are standing in line, perhaps look at people in their eyes and say hello! Connect from a place of loving awareness.
- It took time to create the habits and automatic behaviors that we have so it will take time and practice to undo them and create new ones. Practice being compassionate with yourself during this process, like you would a good friend who is trying to make a change. Let these new intentions be playful and creative. Practice with small steps and work your way up to the ultimate goal. Take time to notice your efforts and small successes.
In today’s age, we all need more balance with technology so that it serves us and can enhance our lives versus disconnecting and stressing our lives. Being present and connecting with our experiences from a place of mindful awareness actually makes us happier no matter what we are doing.
Want a challenge? Unplug from all technology for 24 hours once a month!
Instead of living a virtual life, let’s live the real one.