We live in unprecedented times of stimulation. Twenty years ago, we did not face the same challenges of managing our time and energy. Cell phones, emails and social media compete for our attention. It’s easy to get lost on the Internet and distract ourselves from the present moment.
It isn’t just the plethora of tech offerings that keep us feeling divided and distracted, it is our relationship to these devices that keep us wanting more. What can we do to shift our relationship to the technology that surrounds us? How can we make technology work for us and not the other way around?
The good news is we can use technology as a tool to raise our awareness. We can do this by paying attention and asking ourselves questions about the way we use our technology.
Here are 7 ways you can practice mindfulness with your technology platforms. Try these practices as an experiment to raise your own awareness. Refrain from judging yourself or being too harsh about how these practices work for you. These exercises are intended to raise awareness by simply being aware.
1. When the cell phone rings: Have you ever noticed how quickly you respond to the phone ringing? From the moment it rings, do you automatically feel the need to respond? Does a ringing phone knock you out of your present moment, or disconnect you from the people you’re with?
Try taking 3 deep breaths and center yourself before answering the phone. Experience a moment of presence before answering the phone.
2. Before checking email: Do you ever make a beeline to your email first thing in the morning? Do you feel the need to constantly check your email?
From the moment you think of checking your email, wait at least 1-2 minutes, or take 10 breaths before checking your email. Notice if this is a difficult practice for you. During those 60 seconds, become highly aware of your breath, feeling state, what you’re thinking. Are you impatient, anxious, relaxed? Pay close attention to your bodily sensations.
3. When you’re checking social media: When you’re reading your Facebook newsfeed or your Twitter page, how do you feel? Notice the thoughts you’re having as you read each news item. Do you feel neutral, judgment, or competition arising? Notice your emotions and your feeling state. Which news items bother you most? Which ones do you enjoy? How do you feel before and after you check social media?
4. Try leaving your cell at home: Do you always feel the need to wear your cell phone? On occasion, practice leaving your cell phone at home. Notice the way you feel when you don’t have your cell phone with you. Do you feel naked, disconnected? Less or more present? Do feelings of insecurity or anxiety arise? Be aware of your true experience without any judgment.
5. When you’re working on the computer: Notice your energetic state as you work on your computer. What is the cadence of your breath as you’re surfing the net? The quality of your inhale? Do you fully exhale?
Do you feel rushed, pressured, or calm and at ease? What helps you relax while you’re working on your computer?
How often do you need to take breaks in order to feel balanced? Do you feel present while you’re working on your computer? See what helps you to breathe easy while you’re on your computer.
6. When you're waiting: When you are waiting at a stoplight or for a friend, do you feel the need to check your cell phone? Where does the need arise from? How do you feel when you don’t check your iPhone? Are you uncomfortable without having something to do?
What would it be like to simply take three breaths and allow yourself to relax without doing?
7. Checking your cell: How often do you feel the need to check your cell phone? How do you feel when you receive a text or voicemail? How do you feel when you don't receive any messages? Be fully aware of what is happening to your energy before, during and after you are using your cell. See how detailed you can become in your own awareness of using your cell phone.
Be light-hearted when you are practicing these exercises. I am often amused by the way I get sucked into social media, and how seriously I take myself while I’m on my computer. I do what I can to raise my own awareness around my use of technology, and not to beat myself up about it. Technology, like anything, is inherently neutral and can serve a multitude of purposes. It can be used to keep yourself occupied, meet new people, or even raise our consciousness. How do you want technology to play a role in your life? Are you willing to practice a bit of detachment with your technology?
Awareness leads to self-empowerment. It allows us to release our automatic reactions and make conscious choices about how we are spending our time and energy. Technology is here to stay. Why not embrace it and use it to raise our levels of presence? We can do this by tuning into our breath, our feelings and bodily sensations. This lets us know how we are relating to technology in the moment. Every breath will tell you whether you are stressed or at ease. Let each breath you take be a guide in your connection to technology. When you feel yourself tense and breathing little, give yourself permission to take 3-5 deep breaths. Take a walk or a break. Your technology will still be there waiting for you.
A good affirmation to practice is “I allow myself to breathe easily and effortlessly as I check my email. I am aware of myself being on the computer. I am aware of my breath and bodily sensations in this moment.” In this affirmation, you substitute social media, cell phone, driving, even washing the dishes. You can use any activity to practice mindfulness and to raise your consciousness.
Sura Kim is a speaker, author and yoga instructor. She is the creator of Sura Flow “Self-Discovery Yoga,” an integrative & intuitive approach for healing. Sura Flow is a unique synthesis of meditation, yoga, healing and coaching. You can learn more about her work at www.suracenter.com.
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