When I was a kid I had a blankie that I carried around with me everywhere. It was a small soft cream blanket with satin edges encasing the warm fuzziness of security. I loved the feel of the silky hemming between my fingers and rubbed it so much that the trim fell off around three edges of the blanket leaving a long tattered trail of silk. This was a mindless action that grew into an unconscious habit that proved to be challenging to break. My parents tried everything but it wasn’t until my grandmother sniped off the long tattered silk hem that the habit was broken. The trimming of the hem was symbolic even to a small child.
As adults we have traded in our blankies for our smartphones. We all have them . . . those technological advances that have manifested into perpetual habits that we do without even thinking that take us completely out of the moment and into the rabbit hole of distraction. Perhaps it’s our first action upon waking or the last activity before bed. Or unwittingly, we reach for our phone at a stop light or while standing in line at the grocery store. These little habits may not seem harmful in the grand scheme of things but overtime they rob us from experiencing the fullness and richness of life.
In order to learn how much we are using technological distractions to distract us from the present moment, we have to be willing to take an inventory of what our distractions are and how often we are using them.
- Consider taking a note card around with you for 3 days. Start by writing down each time you notice you are reaching for your phone and why.
- Write down how much time you are spending surfing the internet and then specifically which apps and sites you are drawn to.
- If there are specific apps on your phone that you discover are distracting you more than others, consider removing them from your phone all together.
Once you become aware of your patterns and distractions you may be amazed to see how much time you now have on your hands. Consider replacing habits with mindfulness techniques.
- Notice your surroundings. Take an inventory of the sights, smells, and sounds that are around you.
- Connect with people around you. Starting up a conversation with a person in line at the grocery store can lead to connecting to others and just might make the other person’s day!
- Offer a metta meditation to the person in the car beside you. Think to yourself: May they be happy. May they be free and safe from harm. May they know peace.
– Keegan White, ERYT500