There’s a good chance that you’re reading this article on your smartphone or computer (honestly not sure how else you’d be reading it…) At any rate, because you’re consuming information online at the moment, it may be a bit ironic that I’m recommending that you make time to unplug from digital media every day. I grew up in the 70’s and 80’s and we called it “checking out” though I’m not sure what we were checking out from because there wasn’t an Internet then.
“Checking out” is about becoming more mindful and more aware of who you are, what you want, and enjoying the present moment without distractions. You can do anything during this time, the only “rule” is that you’re not consuming digital media, answering emails, or even chatting on the phone. Gasp, you might be alone with your thoughts!
We Need to Unplug
One of the easiest ways to be more mindful, more in tune with who you are and what you really need, is to unplug. Technology has created a wonderful experience for human beings in the 21st century. Virtually any piece of information is at your fingertips when you need to access it.
Honestly, the access to information and lifestyle enhancing technology is amazing. I meditate using digital technology, the HeadSpace app.)
All this digital interaction means that you’re constantly stimulated by external influences. Visual, mental, and auditory stimulations and experiences are available and present most of your waking day. They are as close as your nearest piece of personal electronics, and lead to an addictive behavior that causes you to consume all of the data and information you can get your hands on. I certainly struggle with this. It causes a disconnect from ourselves.
And while I’m not advocating that you give up technology or the internet, it is important for your health that you check out from the digital world on a regular basis.
Just as physical clutter and distractions fight very hard for your attention, electronic messages do the same. You have probably heard the estimates that each person receives thousands of advertisements and marketing messages every day. This makes it difficult to focus on the present, since your present environment may be filled with so many contrasting thoughts and ideas begging for your attention.
It can also make it difficult to find appreciation for the life that you’re living and the person that you are. Everything looks pretty damn perfect online and comparisons are natural, but they’re not exactly healthy. At least not in the doses that we’re experiencing.
Make time to “check out.”
Just because your phone rings doesn’t mean you need to answer it. Ignore it.
Turn off your e-mail notifications. Turn off your phone, tablet and smart watch, and find a quiet place with few visual distractions to spend a little time each and every day.
You will find yourself intentionally making more time for these mindful moments, while simultaneously realizing that being constantly “plugged in” is not a naturally healthy state of being.
Start by “checking out” for 20-30 minutes a day and see what happens. You may find that this is your favorite time of the day. There’s power in that knowledge.