Addicted to our screens

I’ve lost count of the articles I’ve read about the pervasive and damaging nature of technology. Participants on the eight week courses I teach often comment on how difficult it is to switch off from work, citing the fact they can all too easily read their emails 24/7 as one more stressor in their life.

Being by nature quite low-fi I thought I had managed to dodge all of that. I didn’t get a smartphone for years and like many middle-classed parents, I don’t use much technology in front of the kids. Their screen time is usually limited to watching the occasional CBBC programme on the computer and the odd educational maths or English online primary game we’ve discovered.

So recently when I facilitated a full day mindfulness practice session I was surprised by how much yearning I experienced to check in with my phone as the day unfolded.

Perhaps it was because running the session, though fulfilling and relaxing as it was, felt like work. And at work, away from the kids, I often lose track of how often I surreptitiously check my phone for missed calls, aware small children can fall sick at any point during the school day, I check in with my phone to seek reassurance. A blank screen tells me all is, thus far, well.

So I was working but needed to model the behavior I had set out for the group – a day to switch off your phones and just be with yourself, practising non-doing, practising noticing what happens when the distractions are out of our reach for six hours.

As facilitating meet up groups comes under the broad umbrella of work, I wasn’t expecting to get much out of it for my own personal practice. But the day unfolded as one of great calm. It allowed me to tap into the calm I had experienced whilst on a longer retreat. I was aware I didn’t want the day to end and part of that was connected with having a digital detox for the day. It allowed me to return to work the next day fully recharged, ready to face the Christmas chaos of work do’s and busyness that lay ahead.

For more details on local practice sessions and our regular meet up group follow the retreat tab https://thismindfullife.net/retreats/ or the meet up group tab https://thismindfullife.net/bishops-stortford-meet-up-group/

Today’s total practice time: 20 minutes mindful movement, 30 minutes seated practice.

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