As I walked into yoga class the other day, I thought about how no one brings their cell phone into the studio. It is common understanding that the studio is a sacred place where one goes to be fully present. So as everyone waits for class to start, we smile at each other and say hello. Acquaintances chat amiably. Or we simply sit quietly, taking stock of how our bodies feel or getting lost in our own thoughts or gazing out the tall windows as snowflakes drifting by.
This is something I’ve been contemplating a lot lately: What do we give up when we pull out our phones and stare at that little screen each time we have a spare moment? I recently heard someone say that when we get rid of something, we open up space in our lives for something new. When we work less or stop shopping so much or turn off the computer, we allow room for something else to come into that time and space. When things feel out of whack or we feel overly stressed, that opening can be an opportunity to create balance in our lives. I think the reverse is true as well. When we introduce something new into our lives, it can crowd out other experiences. I wonder what our smart phones are crowding out.
|Photo by Jared Goralnick via Flickr. Some rights reserved.|
We can be in a waiting room full of people - people who live in our community! - but all be absorbed in our own virtual worlds. Somehow the more engaged we become in social media, the less room we leave ourselves to engage in real-life socializing. Maybe we are giving up valuable opportunities, not only to build community by engaging with those around us but also to practice being still and appreciate those quiet moments of down-time when they come to us. Maybe we are losing the chance to model these skills for our children.
I made a conscious decision a couple of years ago not to use my phone when I'm driving. It was a decision I made for safety reasons, and the “No Phone Zone” magnet on the back of my car helps keep me in line. (Because how idiotic will I look driving a car with a “No Phone Zone” magnet, chatting away on my phone?!) Sometimes it is challenging to stick to my pledge, but making that commitment to myself and my family has gone a long way. I may not get to use a 30-minute commute to squeeze in a call with my mom or my best friend, but I do get to listen to NPR and draft blog posts in my head. When my kids are with me, I can be present for them. I get to listen as they sing and hear their latest plans to turn our backyard into an alpaca farm. Plus, we get where we are going safely.
I wonder what will happen if I extend that no-phone philosophy to those little moments throughout the day, whether it be waiting in line at the pharmacy or standing at the bus stop, and I open myself up to whatever else might fill that space. So I am trying – that’s all, just trying, sometimes successfully and sometimes not – to pull out my phone a little less, to leave it in my bag and look around me instead, to smile and make friendly conversation, or to just gaze up at the sky.
What about you? Please scroll on down to the comments section and chime in!