Last weekend I decided I needed time out from my emails, computer and all things digital. I’m not the most technologically advanced person nor do I feel I’m a high user of digital items. But there was a calling from within telling me that I needed a break from them nonetheless. So I decided that I would have Sunday as the day where I would disconnect from my computer and phone and rest my mind and my body from all the activity that comes from or is created by these machines.
Well it wasn’t surprising that as soon as I made the commitment to do this, I suddenly had an itch to check my email or Facebook or some other app or program of the zillions that are available. I suppose it’s that feeling or idea where when you think you can’t have something you suddenly want it! Anyway, I stuck with the commitment that I had made to myself and found other things to do. I read a book and enjoyed getting through quite a lot of it. I went for a walk and somehow knowing that there weren’t other technological distractions around, I felt more focused and present with where I was and what I was doing. There were also moments when I felt bored and perhaps if I hadn’t been doing the detox I would have grabbed my phone and looked at what was happening ‘out there’. So it was an interesting mix of feeling more alive and present but also with an underlying hum of restlessness and spouts of boredom. Strange as it might sound, it was actually quite pleasant to just allow these feelings and thoughts to be there without needing to act on them.
I think what became obvious to me is how attached we are to technology and all things digital. It’s virtually impossible to get away from it unless you isolate yourself in the countryside and go off grid. I suppose what I found interesting was that having a day away from these things actually did create feelings of withdrawal in me, that is, the restlessness and boredom. I wondered how I would feel if I actually stopped using my computer and phone for a week – how would I feel in my body and mind then? I had done this previously on a 10 day meditation training course that I went on a few years back and there was something quite amazing about completely disconnecting from the outside world and actually reconnecting with myself. As wonderful as technology can be, it can act as a distraction and is often used as a tool to fill something within that can only be filled by paying attention to ourselves and whatever is happening within us.
So I’m not saying that technology or digital is bad but rather when it becomes an addiction or attachment it’s no longer serving us. In general we are being constantly stimulated throughout our day, whether it’s the advertisement in the train station on the way to work or the constant pressure at work to complete a deadline or the 2nd, 3rd or 4th coffee we’ve just drunk. And once we have accepted a certain level of stimulation, we need more and more to keep the buzz going yet somehow beneath the buzz there’s also the underlying feeling of stress and anxiety.
If any of this sounds familiar it might be time to give yourself a break from technology or all things digital as well. We have the power to say no to what isn’t serving us and to choose a different path, one that is much more fulfilling. Sometimes it’s the fear of what saying no could mean that stops us whether it be that people will start to forget us if we’re not regularly posting on social media or the fear that we might miss out on something etc. So if you’re up for the challenge, commit yourself to taking a day off from digital and technology. See how it feels to not be attached to your phone or computer and try and spend time out in nature where there are so many wonderful and beautiful things that are good for us. And if one day seems like too much, try half a day or 2 hours. Be aware of the feelings and thoughts that are flowing through you and just let them be there as they’ll soon move on. Good luck and maybe rather than this being a once off experiment it could become a regular break that you give yourself.