Friday, February 20, 2015

Detaching from my Phone

Today's post focuses on one of the yamas of yoga: aparigraha, or non-greed, non-possessiveness and non-clinging. Something I am striving to let go of is the need to constantly use my phone so I can be more generous with my time to the people I love.

I'll start by admitting I've failed in my attempt to detach from my cellphone so far this year. The aim was never to stop using my phone completely but to put it away after dinner to give more of my attention to myself, my husband and my dogs. Graham has incessantly reminded me that I haven't done that. It's only February and I have already neglected one of my resolutions. But, instead of dwelling on my failure, I am taking the opportunity to reconnect with my intention: unplugging.

How can I do that?

By forgiving myself for not putting as much effort into this as I said I would, and by training myself to use the time I would have spent on my phone to be creative, productive and present.

On being creative:

Ideas often come to my in my sleep. When I awake, my first action is usually to turn off my alarm, text Graham a good morning message and then scroll through my social media feeds as I lie in my bed. I estimate that I waste about 10 minutes doing so when I could use that time for meditation, yoga or getting ready for work. Lately I've been better about it, rationalizing that I could always check social sites later; they will always be there. Do I really need to spend the first moments of my day checking up on what others are doing? Wouldn't that time be better spent focusing on myself and creating a plan for the day?

On being productive:

Tackling to-do list items is a much better way to spend time than logging on to social media sites. Of course, I will need to promote my blog and respond to emails. Scheduling posts and responding to emails at a designated time will help me stick to my goal. Besides, in most instances it is perfectly acceptable to respond to an evening email in the morning.

On being present:

More important than being creative and productive is being present. Life isn't the plans you make for the future but rather the moments in between the time you spend planning. It's taking the dogs out (my least favorite thing to do) and laughing at Capone's excitement. It's Graham and I tag-teaming dinner preparation. It's Graham coming into the bedroom to kiss me goodbye each morning, before I mumble out a response, roll over and go back to sleep. It's listening to Johnnyswim on the drive to work. It's those everyday moments.

Ideas on how to detach from your phone:

  • Turn off app notifications. Or delete apps altogether.
  • Let family members and close friends know you won't be responding to texts or emails after dinner. If it's an emergency, they can call. 
  • When in an elevator, instead of bringing out the phone, ask how the person next to you is doing. If you're alone, stretch out your arms and breathe deeply.
  • Limit yourself to checking your feeds twice a day. After you've mastered this challenge, reduce that to once a day. 
  • Leave the phone in the purse/pocket during dinner dates. Better yet, leave it in the car or at home.
  • Leave your phone on the charger in another room after a certain time. You don't need it around if you're unplugging.

To be clear, my point is to unplug when spending time with loved ones, especially during and after dinner. I'll still use my phone to promote my work, connect with loved ones, track my workouts and ideas, play music, etc., but I'll try to limit those uses to times when it is appropriate and necessary.