Thursday, March 6, 2014

Confessions of a Tech Addicted Yogi

Are you addicted to technology? Your digital device? Social Media? Or, all of the above? I am. "I am a Tech Addicted Yogi," I say sheepishly. 

Kelly McGonigal, PhD, a health psychologist and lecturer at Stanford University looks at the very nature of technology addiction in her article, Mindfulness and Technology | BeWell@Stanford. When do you know you have a problem? She states that it's when you experience separation anxiety when you cannot find your phone. You feel physical anxiety when you haven't checked your phone in awhile. And the most interesting, and I dare say quite common, intimacy with you device in that you sleep with it, check it in the middle of the night, and/or it is the first thing you do in the morning.

I am currently training to be a yoga teacher, and one of the Yamas is non-hoarding. This could also be interpreted as taking only what you need. I decided I was going to apply this principle to my "hoarding" of my digital device of choice, my cell phone. How often do I need to check my Smartphone for texts, email, Facebook notifications? When is it an appropriate amount, almost like the appropriate amount of food, and when is it too much? 

McGonigal suggests one of the first things to do when a problem with the device is detected is to pay attention when are you losing sleep, procrastinating or feeling anxious. By paying attention, or being mindful, we may notice what is happening in our mind, recognize habitual thinking and make more conscious choices. And these conscious choices may have to do with technology consumption, or hoarding of one's digital device.

As I drove my daughter to school today, I began to catch myself looking at a text that came in while driving. So, deliberately and with mindfulness, I put my phone in the glove compartment, out of sight and silenced. Then I added another part to this. I put in an Eckert Tolle Mindfulness CD. Now, every time I get in the car and turn the key, I hear Eckert. This is Day 1 of this new modified behavior. 

Now, as I sit and read different articles on technology addiction and begin to write this blog, I notice my phone, upside down on my desk. I feel the itch to check it since it is on silence, but I know there is absolutely no reason to check it. I'm picking up my daughter in 30 minutes. We've already communicated, and any other text, email, or notification from Facebook or any other social media can wait.

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