If you are like me you use your smart phone a lot. Texts, emails, calls, weather, stocks, Facebook, internet and so much more is available at the touch of our handy screens. Making a phone call seems the least important of its features. For instance I can now make astronomically complex Vedic astrology charts in a few seconds on my phone, a task that previously required a powerful PC. Being so good at what they do means they are now the focus of so much of what we do.
I recently had the uneasy thought that the use of my smart phone was gradually and unconsciously taking up more of my time but giving me less in return. I hadn’t measured how often I got a mental cue to ‘check in’ or how much time I spent swiping screens and opening apps, much less considering whether the time I spent made me more productive, or more fulfilled for that matter. My ‘geek-within’ has a loud voice so it took a while for me consider how I might go about redefining the use of my phone, or if it was necessary or a good idea. But, one day after my yoga and meditation, a ‘mindfulness’ experiment dawned on me.
Rather than try to artificially force a change in my behaviour, I thought it would be more natural and helpful to first become more aware of it – as it happened. Doing it in steps might be a good idea, I thought. The first step was to mentally acknowledge the impulse to check my email, for instance. After recognising the mental signal, I would take the second step, which was to ignore the impulse by taking a moment to softly chant a sacred mantra. The results were revealing and liberating.
I became keenly (I could say painfully) aware of the frequency of the mental call to the smartphone. Clearly there was nothing urgent enough in my inbox, the blogosphere, or the 24/7 online news to warrant so much attention to the magic device I love so much.
The message was plain enough, paying less attention to the phone gave me more time for other things like quality thought, more focus and ironically better productivity.
Taking a moment to centre my mind to chant a mantra was however, the real game changer for me. This micro-moment of meditation connected me to something sacred and calming. It connected me to my inner self and also to something much larger than myself. Every mantra was a brief spark of light that, one after the other, brightened and energised my day. It was a moment of reflection the quality of which, created perspective and contrast for me. For instance, did I get the same lift, or the same calm from responding to the mental call to check in with my smartphone? You know the answer is no. And I guess I knew it too, even before starting my experiment. Still, the experience of replacing numerous mental calls to check in with numerous micro-moments of sacred calm, had an effect that was deeper and more positive than I can describe.
So where does that leave me now? Well for starters I had to bind and gag my inner-geek to write all this. Having finished my experiment I now got him on to painting (analogue) pictures again (yes, with a brush, paint and canvass) and to connecting with the inspiration and creativity of his right brain. I still check my emails, but maybe less often. And I’ve got better at swiping aside the impulse to check in with my smartphone and get in touch with moments of reflection that do a lot to vitalise my day.
Maybe you will try your own version of my experiment. Instead of opening an app, open the window and let in some light and air. Take a moment to reflect. It might help you clear the mental clutter to see things more clearly. Maybe it will just let you take the pace down a little, so that you have a better quality day. Take a moment to daydream. You might be surprised by the inspiration that can come from those reflective moments of ‘doing nothing’.
I am planning a visit to California and Massachusetts from the last week of May until the first week of July. If you are interested to meet to discuss your Vedic chart, or if you would like to hear me speak on Dharma and the Four Values drop me a line here. Namaste.