Notice Anything Strange Lately – Part 2

6 Unexpected Outcomes From Our Phone-Free Experiment

In last week’s post we looked at how our phones and screens are proving to be addictive and what we might do about it. I proposed a one week experiment and many of you took the challenge!

Our experiment was to make one change for one week. There were 5 options to choose from. I chose the “fun one” because it was the easiest: Add something fun to your week that requires no technology. Leave the phone at home for this activity…Do this fun thing 3 times this week for 10 minutes.

So I decided to swing.

Four times this week I walked out to the back yard and sat down in an old-fashioned wooden swing hanging from a real tree. I pushed off with my legs and pumped just like I used to at recess in 1964, ponytail flying. Once I got going I could lean back and marvel at the kaleidoscope of fall colors in the canopy overhead.

My only rule was to enjoy myself – no phone, no figuring, no fretting for ten whole minutes. Just be a kid again.
As the week unfolded there were some interesting outcomes I hadn’t anticipated.

Unexpected positive benefits:

  1. High ROI – The carefree goodness of ten minutes of swinging came back to mind at random times all week. When the thought returned it brought the vibrant joy of freedom all over again.
  2. Sleep – While trying to get to sleep (which often takes longer than it should) the soothing sensation of swinging came back to me. It was like meditation without an app! I felt the slow easy arc of motion up to the sky and back again. It was remarkably relaxing and I fell asleep more easily than usual.
  3. Relief & Playfulness – When I waffled about taking time to swing I would re-commit myself to the experiment: The next 10 minutes are set aside to play. Period. Once I got firm on that, I felt a surprising sense of relief and playfulness.
  4. Rekindled Memories – As I made a little space to swing this week other similar memories have surfaced. I remembered how my beagle, Stranger, and I used to dig for field mice in the sagebrush fields around our house and then nap in the warm sun, hidden by the tall sweet-smelling grass.

Revealing observations:

  1. Resistance – Sometimes while swinging I felt the pull to go get my phone to make a video and send it to my granddaughter…to turn this experience into a production of sorts. At times it was difficult to stay present – to just enjoy myself and not document it. 
  2. Need for Validation – It isn’t easy to admit this but my mind grappled with crazy questions like: If I don’t share this with anyone, is it still valuable? If no one knows about this moment, is it still significant? Yes and yes and more yes.

This experiment has seriously troubled some waters for me. It’s awakened a deep longing to protect unstructured, unhurried chunks of time, and an urgency to understand how deeply our phones are changing how we operate in our world and with each other. I believe there are workable solutions – and together we can find them.

I hope you’ll share what you’re learning with us in the comments below. Our on-going shared conversation is certainly part of our awareness and solution.

 

Note: If you haven’t seen Adam Alter’s TED Talk yet, take 9 minutes to listen. 

Notice Anything Strange Lately?

Something strange is happening…

Last week I watched as a young woman stumbled up a flight of stairs because she couldn’t take her eyes off her phone. I sat next to a man in church whose pocket vibrated repeatedly the entire hour. And my wellness clients’ ability to get through an entire coaching session without looking at a screen of some kind is much more a struggle than it was ten years ago.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not sitting in judgement here. I understand the pull. I can scroll through FaceBook “for a few minutes” only to wake up thirty minutes later feeling weirdly anxious. My body and brain give me red flags but I don’t always listen.

Research is discovering more and more about why these tiny devices are so addictive. If we hope to live rich, full lives we’ve got to make some important choices.

I’m certainly not planning on ditching my phone, mind you. Just this week I FaceTimed with sweet MayMay in Seattle, watched our son’s soccer team win a game out west, and got photos in real-time from Bob in the Dominican Republic. I love how connected we can be even though we’re scattered.

But here’s the thing…I really don’t want to wake up a few years from now and realize I’ve wasted precious time staring at my dang phone, and I know I could if I don’t make some careful choices now.

I’ve been working on some safeguards and a personal key question that can help me make a decision easily when I’m clearly headed into cellphone-zombie-land.

I’ve got it boiled down to this so far:

Is this phone activity making me more awake to the life and love I want, or less?

I’ll let you know how it goes.

As a wellness coach I see firsthand that often all it takes is one small change to jump start a whole cascade of other big changes in our lives. With this in mind let’s consider a one week experiment – something that can open up some fresh spaces for us without too much work.

Look over the choices below and pick one – or design your own. One new thing for one week. That’s all.

Take your pick:

  • Take a week’s vacation from Facebook.
  • Turn off all phone notifications – no rings, dings or pings.
  • Declare mealtime and/or bedtime phone free.
  • Don’t check or answer work messages after work. Inform co-workers so they don’t think you’re dead.
  • Add something fun to your week that requires no technology. Leave the phone at home for this activity. Walk, swing, read a real book in a hammock, ride your bike. Do this fun thing 3 times this week for 10 minutes.

Then reflect on your week and identify a few valuable take-aways and any next-steps you might want to take as a result of your observations.

I’m going to join you – and I would dearly love to hear what you discover…

PS – Don’t miss this 9 minute TED talk: Why Our Screens Make Us Less Happy

 

Photo by Austin Schmid on Unsplash

The Story I Just Can’t Forget

sunsetA friend told me a story recently I can’t get off my mind.

A missionary was living in a small African village. She asked her friends and their chief if they would introduce her to the people who lived in a nearby village. Early one morning they began their trek. She was excited to meet new people and was eager to get there. They walked awhile, then found some shade and sat down, she assumed, to catch their breath. After more walking they sat down again – they chatted, sat peacefully, then walked some more. In time they sat again. This happened several times and she was getting more and more antsy each time they stopped.

Finally she got up enough nerve to ask someone why they were stopping so often and he said,
“So our spirits can catch up with our bodies.”

Wow – what mind-jarring, life-recalibrating, much-needed ancient wisdom.

How often do we Westerners feel we’re meeting ourselves comin’ and goin’? How often are our crazy-busy minds out in front of us – on to the next thing before the last one is done?

These wise villagers knew well what our western research is spending lots of money and time to discover:

We humans are in need of quiet – of down time. (click on blue for more)

Our brains are not built for a constant flow of information.

We now see more information in one day than our ancestors processed in a lifetime…

Our minds, bodies and even our eyes suffer from the overload.

As a mindful eating coach I spend my days helping people slow down and re-connect with their bodies, to re-remember how to stop and experience the joy of eating and moving again.

The simple practice of chosen-mindfulness changes us.

We begin to awaken – to feel more fully and deeply alive.

And not just at the table.

This is something all of us can do – and – no one can do it for us. Each of us must accept the responsibility for the stewardship of our own mind and soul. In our distracting world, peace will need to be intentionally cultivated – it’s not a given.

You are the only one who can make the space and time to sit in quiet contemplation.

What are you doing right now to relax, to allow your spirit to catch up with your body each day?

Here are a few ideas…you will find your own:

  • Quietly read, pray, meditate
  • Play, stroll, exercise, stretch, yoga, walk, etc.
  • Art – draw, paint, color, finger paint, etc.
  • Music – listen or make your own
  • Play with children, ride a bike, swing…
  • Enjoy your pets, a garden, a hammock…
  • Deep breathing, biofeedback, massage, muscle relaxation

There are so many ways to feel anchored peacefully in yourself again. Find your way.

Especially in the 21st century, unless you move to a village with no wifi, you will need to be fierce for your own peace, for finding your way of allowing your spirit to catch up with your body each beautiful day.