I’ll admit it: I’ve done things with my iPhone that I shouldn’t have!
No, not bad, dirty things. How could your mind even go there? I am an Upstanding Woman!
I’m talking about those other things. Like taking my phone into the bathroom with me. Or sleeping with it under my pillow. Or turning it on the moment I woke up. Or checking it often for notifications, after posting a new Facebook status update. Or aimlessly searching the web whenever I had a free moment.
At one point or another, I’ve been guilty of all those — and more!
So when the teacher of the mandala painting class I’m in suggested that all the students try a “digital detox” — the better to create our art with more clarity, energy, and focus — I scrunched up my face and shook my head.
I was like: No way. Nu-uh. In your dreams, woman. Impossible!
In brief, she wanted us to refrain from using our computers and smartphones for an amount of time that would constitute a stretch for us.
So it could be the weekend; it could be a day; it could be three hours, two hours, 20 minutes, or what have you!
The digital detox was to be reasonable, but at the same time, it was to challenge you and give you ample, unclouded head-space. As opposed to being Plugged. In. Every. Damn. Moment.
Right away, I used my expert analytical skills to determine that this assignment sucked. It was not only unrealistic, pointless, cruel, and unnecessary — it was also RIDICULOUS!
And yet, a little voice inside of me whispered: Do it.
Because I knew (felt) deep down inside that my relationship with my phone was indeed becoming a little more intimate than I was comfortable with!
Not like it was taking over my life or anything. I wasn’t that over-the-top with it!
But I noticed that I thought about my phone a lot. Like, always wondering if I had any new emails or notifications. And that kinda started to creep me out a bit.
You know that Buddha quote, “We become what we think”?
Well, one day, I was out at a restaurant with my husband. I pointed out to him that every single person there was on their phone — either talking, texting, or surfing the web. And even though there was something amusing about it, it was also a little depressing.
These people were all there with others — children, friends, family, co-workers.
Yet they were all so pre-occupied, so hypnotized, by these tiny glowing screens within their hands.
Anyway, my husband started joking that everyone was going to disappear into their phones one of these days. Like, just get sucked in and never heard from again. (Become what we think.)
We’d wake up — or, rather, the insects and animals would wake up — to find a quiet, barren world with plenty of phones, but no people.
Anyway, back to the detox:
I took the challenge. Yes, I was downright disgusted by it, but I took it. I like challenges, and I’m always one to try and poke some fun at the status quo, so I went for it.
I decided that I would only check email and social media TWICE a day. Once at the beginning and once at the end.
On the first day, I often had a strong urge to reach for my phone, but I took lots of deep breaths. I checked a few more times than I was supposed to, but it was still 70 percent less than before!
On the second day, I checked maybe three times. Without question, the urge was still there, as if a wild animal were scratching away at my insides, dying to break free.
But on the third and fourth day, something happened. Something strange. Bewildering. Delicious.
I — just — didn’t — care — anymore.
That feeling of wanting to keep on top of all my friends and family and clients, of not wanting to miss out on anything, was gone. No more itch. No more urge.
And it felt pretty damn good.
Liberating, actually. Energizing. Wildly exciting, even.
I got more done. Moved with more purpose. Created with greater joy. Felt different parts of my brain being woken up.
Nowadays, during those times when I have a free minute or two, instead of picking up my phone to do some aimless reading, I simply pick up a good book.
Nowadays, instead of picking up new emails every 40 minutes and responding to them right-that-second, I pick them up twice a day and efficiently blast out responses within more relaxed windows of time.
We need to stop dividing our attention. Instead of looking at our phones when we’re having conversations or spending time with the people we love, we MUST put them away.
Seriously: It can ALL wait.
Because when it comes right down to it, at the end of your life, are you going to regret that you didn’t spend as much time checking your email and social media accounts as you would’ve liked?! Probably not.
However, you will most certainly regret the time you neglected to truly look into the eyes of and be present with your loved ones because you were too busy staring at your phone.
And although I know full well that the assignment was supposed to be a temporary digital detox, just to give us an extra jolt of energy and creativity, you know what? I’m gonna try to stick with it.
Sure, days might arise when I’m working with others on a project and I need to respond to emails right away, but that’s okay.
As long as I’m gentle with myself, and I understand that things will come up to disrupt my plans from time to time, I won’t freak out about it. Interruptions to my sustained “detox” will always occur. Exceptions, off days, chaotic times.
And that’s fine. Despite that reality, I intend to press onward like a stubborn lunatic.
A stubborn, relaxed, healthy, joyful lunatic!
If any of the above resonated with you, please leave me a comment below!
Let me know if you’re a constant email/social media checker like I was. And if you’re feeling adventurous, try out a digital detox for yourself. You don’t have to commit to doing it forever. Just pick a goal that challenges you, and go for it.
Fair Warning, though: Once you try this detox, you might get addicted to all the Clarity, Peace, Electricity, and Happiness that floods your way. Don’t say I didn’t warn ya!