“And every day, the world will drag you by the hand, yelling, “This is important! And this is important! And this is important! You need to worry about this! And this! And this!” And each day, it’s up to you to yank your hand back, put it on your heart and say, “No. This is what’s important.” Iain Thomas
I recently watched the documentary The Social Dilemma. I was pretty dumbfounded after this film. But even as I was reminded of how every move we make on the internet is being recorded and watched, and we are being controlled and manipulated, I was utterly aghast. I knew to some degree that corporations and organizations were controlling the information that I was seeing on my computer every day, but the level of control is pretty astonishing. Especially when you take into account how much you use the internet and social media every day.
And think about it. How many times have you driven down the road and noticed another driver looking down at their phone as they cruise on their merry way? How about in the grocery store? I know I’m guilty of that one since I now use my phone’s note app to make my grocery list. How many times have you taken your kids to the playground only to notice all of the adults with their heads down scrolling on their phones and not interacting with their kids or other adults for that matter? They even joked in the movie about how many people wake up in the morning and grab their phone to check it before they go pee, or while they are peeing! By the way, I’ve done both!
I recently read the story of the famous violinist Joshua Bell, and a performance that he did in a busy train depot as a social experiment. Here was one of the world’s most famous violinists playing a three million dollar violin and barely a soul stopped to take notice. This was a performer that commanded a large sum to play a concert and few people stopped for more than a minute or two to listen. Even as several young children tugged at their parents to stay, they were hurried along. The above quote by Iain Thomas really got me to thinking, because this is exactly what social media does to us! It grabs our attention and doesn’t let go! It shouts “This is important! And this is important!” It tugs as along until a period of time has passed and we realize just how long we have been hypnotized.
"Mindfulness is a way to live your life as if it really mattered."- Jon Kabat-Zinn
As beguiling as social media is to us, we are missing the magical, miraculous moments that are happening all around us! Our time is being stolen, our emotions are being aroused and our real-time life is being hijacked! Don’t get me wrong- I don’t think social media is going to go away, or that we will or even should shun it altogether. I think the key is becoming aware of how much time we spend on social media and being more thoughtful about the content that we are consuming. What have you noticed about your own social media habits? And how can you change those habits to reflect a healthier balance?
Besides noticing how much time you spend on social media here are a few other areas to think about:
1- Every time we hear a ping we are drawn back into our phone. Our senses are heightened and it puts us on alert. Turn off notifications, if not permanently, for a period of time each day.
2- Don’t seek news on social media. “Fake news” is being spread at a rapid rate. If you want to be informed make sure that you are seeking news from one or two reliable sources. Don’t be tempted to click on that article that a friend posted! Go straight to the source.
3- Make sure you balance technology with other healthy activities, hobbies, and creative outlets. It’s important to regularly spend time in nature either exercising or just soaking up the sun to get your daily vitamin D!
4- Our kids are watching. Make sure that you set a good example for your kids and have discussions with them about the struggle to balance time spent on technology and face to face connections.
5- Put your phone down, look up, and NOTICE what is happening RIGHT NOW! There is beauty all around us. Miracles happen every day. We’ve just got to notice them!
In today’s fast-paced society it’s all too easy to get caught up in what’s next. Or to spend time ruminating in the past. When we are mindful we are paying attention to what is happening in the present moment without judgment. There is nothing that you have to do, except to be present in this moment. And when you catch yourself thinking or worrying about the past, or thinking about what may or may not happen, you bring your awareness back to the present.
Mindfulness is like a muscle. The more we practice and notice, the better we are at tuning in to the amazing things that are happening all around us. Like the beautiful fall palette as the leaves begin to change. Or the crisp blue sky. The details of your life become sharper, clearer. The worries that you once had begin to fall away. Your inner voice and guidance system becomes louder, leading you to the next step without effort.
With each of our events, we spend time cultivating mindfulness and meditation. After all, these practices help us to live our lives more fully- and THAT is what's truly important!
With Love and Gratitude,
Kinda and Rachel