I think my smartphone is ruining my life. I used to be so content to answer a phone call here and there, maybe send a text once in a while. Now, I have so much at my finger tips, every time I look at my phone, this little 3.5"X 7" monster, I feel compelled to check my email, update my Facebook status, respond to texts and tweets, read up on the latest news, see what local deals are happening at this very instant and where with Google Map accuracy, continue an online version of Scrabble with my brother half-way across the continent, and look at the latest stock market and sports updates (even though I have nothing riding on either of those institutions), all the while listening to the Pixies through my headphones. I'm not a Luddite. I can see the value of this technology, especially for someone who runs their own business, like myself. I can see how it can potentially make life a little smoother, easier. But I can also see how easy it is to lose a grounded sense of Self with the gravitational pull of my attention constantly being pulled toward something else.
For me, the same way I have to regulate driving by Tulie Bakery and buying their Morning Bun, a crispy, chewy, cinnamon bun with a sugary glaze all over it, every time I feel the urge, I am also learning to regulate the instant gratification of all this information available to me on my phone. I'm discovering the value of "going off line" for even a few hours or maybe a day and choosing to leave the phone and iPod in the car and head up the canyon for a run so I can be continually updated as to the real-time weather around me, the sound of the wind blowing through the trees, the feeling of my body moving through space, the stark colors of the canyon, and the steadiness of my own thoughts. I can choose to be more present with myself.
Practicing yoga is a great opportunity to not only turn off the phone, but to also turn off some of the many voices in our head and apprentice ourselves to listening to something as fundamental as body and breath. It's an opportunity to hear the wise voice inside. Yoga isn't an escape. It's a refocus, a reframing. It's like the ophthalmologist saying, "Which one's clearer, number one (switch) or number two?" And seeing more clearly, we can go back out into our every-day lives focused on what's most important. Then from that place of clarity, make conscious decisions about how we will focus our energy and attention.
I invite you to try "going off line" for some time this week. It'll be an interesting practice.
My Smartphone isn't evil. It's a reminder to practice mindfulness when faced with so many different avenues that vie for my attention. Who knows, maybe with practice, I can own a Smartphone and remain conscious. I wonder if they have an App for that. . .