Standing On a Mountain, Texting...
A CASE FOR RITUALS OF UNPLUGGING
At this time of year, I am always in a deep inquiry into my own digital wellness, as we approach the holy day of the National Day of Unplugging….that 24-hour period where we take a break from technology and do something else.
I have followed the National Day of Unplugging since about 2014.
In the past, I have shared about why we might want to take a “Sabbath for the Soul,” or “Get Outside” once a week.
This year, we are one year further into watching the change in our own behaviours that have resulted from being tethered to our smart phones, and so, I am pulled to share something a bit more comprehensive, than rah-rah-ing us to unplug and carry on.
Because I am always trying to be a beacon of light in this world, I don’t really want to slam you with all the dark and shady goings on, of our digital circumstance such as how social media companies have knowingly made you addicted to their platforms by exploiting your dopamine feedback loop, or how cell phones have negatively impacted your intimate relationships, or how this is your brain on social media.
I don’t want to just simply restate the obvious of how your cell phone is trying to control your life, or how Instagram is really just Lifestyle-Porn.
I figure, if you really wanted to know, you’ve already checked it out.
(if you however, would like a little 10 minute synopsis of all the reasons that could give you a nudge as to why this is important, you might check out this little youtube video)
But, this year, I must be clear.
Because this is so pervasive, and has so profoundly changed the fabric of our reality in less than a decade, this is something that we all simply, need a hard break from.
Don’t despair however, because there is very good news!
Unlike other aspects of this out-of-balance world,
this is something that YOU can actually do something about.
I often wonder why I am so passionate about digital sabbaths.
I don’t really do them that often, and I am far from immune from the impacts of our digital demise.
I suppose it is because I have been a student of holistic wellness for over 20 years, with a deep curiosity about brain chemistry, the energetic systems of the body combined with a love of technology since I was a teenager.
Add to that, that intimacy and connection are some of my biggest values.
I try, and practice presence.
I’m a creator of sacred spaces.
But, above all, my passion in this life,
is to help You…
Be All You Can BE.
(And there is nothing about our social media / smart phone madness that is helping you, to be the unique being, you came here to Be.)
And, I am going to make a bold statement:
Unless someone has never been a cell phone adopter, and/or they do not maintain social media accounts, It is highly likely they are a digital addict.
And, I hate to break it to you, my dear one,
but that Someone, might even be you.
confessions of a digital junkie.
I go in and out of my own digital addictions, and have also been negatively impacted by the digital goings-ons of others. This feels ugly to share, but here, I offer you a transparent glimpse into my own digital downfalls:
I’ve been the person mindlessly picking up my phone, every five minutes, unable to put it down.
I’ve been the person who scrolls through everyone else’s life on instagram before I even get out of bed.
I’ve been the one looking in the wee hours to see if “he” has texted me back; I’ve checked to see how many facebook “likes” I have to give me a sense of my own validity and worth; and I’ve had moments where I’ve measured my own lovability by the number of “hearts” I have.
I’ve been in intimate “connection” with someone, who felt gazing into their cell phone, was more important than gazing into a connection with me.
I’ve hung out in real-time, with another intimate connection, only to discover they were simultaneously (in the same room) immersed in a digital sexual fantasy with some “thing” else.
I’ve witnessed someone I knew better than their facebook profile, displaying a very different persona to the public world, than who I knew them to be.
I have had some stranger in the remote reaches of Russia, troll through my instagram profile and create their own social media identity, across multiple platforms, using MY face and imagery as their own. Hell, they still might be doing it.
(Not sure where that last bit fits in, but it seemed worth mentioning.)
Overall, I have been a person who is more often than I like, bringing in more input than creating output, paying more mind to the superfluous ideas and projections of the outside world, than staying aligned with my own Truth, inspiration, and connection to the Divine.
And all the above, whether it’s my own junkie-ness, or being impacted by another person’s addicted-ness, this is my way of saying…we’ve got a problem, Houston.
All of us.
Unless we take control of our own digital lives, consistently, it will, more and more, take over Us.
NATIONAL DAY OF UNPLUGGING
sunset march 1st through sundown march 2nd
Think ABOUT WHAT UNPLUGGING IS FOR YOU:
24 hours off of all technology?
(this takes some forethought however, if you might need to turn on your phone for directions, or music, or to coordinate with a lunch date)
Unplugging kick-off Cocktail party?
News fast? Email fast?
Ix-ne on the Social Media, ey?
One entire weekend of digital disconnect?
For me, this year, I will keep my phone off, but might spend time writing, which I will need to use my computer to do.
And for the year ahead, my intention is to spend more time writing on my blog than rambling on facebook and instagram.
For those considering ways to manage your smart phone more long term, here is how I have contented with my own cell phone obsessions.
10 TIPS TO spark your own DISCONNECTION:
DISCONNECT AT NIGHT:
I have always done this, and keep my sleeping area as electronic-free as possible. It is best to keep the cell phones out of the bedroom entirely. If you can’t to that, power them down. This one, thing alone, is huge step. (and yes, there have been those not-so-amazing moments in my life, where I start my phone up in the middle of the night)
USE SOCIAL MEDIA CONTROL APPS:
There are many apps for both android and IOS users that will show how much time you are spending on social media and/or your phone, encourage you to do something else, or, the more extreme options will lock you out of apps, or your phone, entirely.
Within IOS settings, there is a Screen Time option to help control your usage, and set schedules that will grey out social media applications to discourage your use. This is actually a pretty awesome utility.
Apps like Space are also subtle ways to control and discourage usage. A great and extreme app I am loving right now, is Flipd. It totally hides all your apps other than stock system applications…turning your cell phone, into simply, a cell phone!!! A la 2003! (you have a moment of intense panic, but then it is incredibly liberating.)
My current set up is I use the native IOS Screen Time app from 6am-12pm to discourage my social media use from the moment I wake, and to keep me down to 15 minutes a day on social. Once I start my work day, I also turn on Flipd to put me in the “zone” and lock down from all social media apps up until noon, or 5pm depending on the day. I need extreme measures from distraction and procrastination, so this is how I role.
TURN OFF THE RED BADGES:
I am very visually triggered, and those little red dots telling me I have a like or a message or a notification send my dopamine cravings into a pavlovian frenzy. I turn off Badges in all my apps. I check my messages and everything else, when I want to, not when it tells me to.
TURN OFF SOUND:
There is enough noise pollution in the world, I don’t want to be a contributor. And, it also creates a little dopamine drip in the brain. Again, I take control of my phone and check when I need to, not when it tells me to. I don’t currently live a life where I need to be in urgent call and response via text message.
OWN A CLOCK AND A WATCH:
I don’t currently have either, but mean to implement both, thus not giving me another reason, to pick up my phone. Not that I want us to be a slave to time, but I think a clock is a better option, than picking up your phone and getting sucked in. (I think it goes without saying, I’m not a fan of the apple watch.)
PHONE OFF THE BODY:
I haven’t gotten into EMF’s here. But in general keep your phone away from important body parts…away from your heart, your brain, your sexual organs, and your pelvis (your pelvic bones make a large portion of white blood cells and it is believed that EMF’s can impair white blood cell production.) I play games with myself to see how often my phone can outside my immediate energetic field…a ten foot circumference around my body.
Not as often as I like. Not even while I write this. :)
I have an intuitive sense that our energetic body has gotten use to the the "hum” of a cell phone and is starting to feel strange without it it’s presence.
But I do my best to never put my phone in a pocket unless it’s in airplane mode.
Again, I’m far from perfect with this…it’s a goal.
CREATE BEAUTIFUL RITUALS FOR UNPLUGGING:
A twenty-four hour period can tell you a lot about your habits, and reset you back to zero. And, hey you might even feel incredible when it’s done!
In my perfect world, I do this once a week, with a once-a-month ideal of getting out of range for a full day or more.
And with a goal, of every quarter, getting out of range for several days.
GO ANALOG INSTEAD OF DIGITAL:
Use your hands in a non-digital way. This is great for the brain, a bonus for depression.
Knit, stitch, color, carve, whittle, strum, bead, gather, sculpt, chop, knead. Whatever floats your boat…great activities for a day of unplugging! Or to keep those digits busy, so they don’t feel pulled to get digital.
IMPLEMENT UNPLUGGING TIME WITH THE FAMILY:
Maybe…when you walk in the door from work, or sit down to dinner, or hell, get crazy and keep the phones off from sundown until sunrise.
LESS MEDIA, MORE YOU:
I mapped out what my perfect day looks like recently…and, something very cool, is that I’m not far off.
I start with my morning rituals of meditation and fire and writing, then break fast.
Then morning is all about inner input - connection to me and spirit (writing time/inner work/no digital input), lunch/walk break, afternoon is outer work (emails/clients/web time…then my evening is a wind down/sunset time, etc.
BUT NO WHERE in my ideal day, do I “carve out” time to log into social media, or to check out the news.
Spend more time creating all those important things that ONLY YOU, are here to do.
And I promise, that has little, or perhaps nothing, to do with posting your life on social media, and scrolling through a news feed.
At the end of the day, I truly believe these digital black holes, are a grand mechanism to keep us distracted from who we are meant and called to Be in this grand time of awakening.
And, life is short. Time, is something we can never get back.
So get up, get going, and create that sacred space to take back your power…so you can get busy with the important work, of being all, You, are Here, to Be.