I am a yogi. I have a daily routine that is dictated by Ayurvedic text and I try my best every day to live the eight limbs of yoga according to the yoga sutras of Patanjali. Recently I was certified to teach others the ancient practice of yoga and I do my best each day to inspire others.
But this yogi has a secret. I am a tech junkie.
I can’t help it. Ever since I was a little boy and got my hands on my first computer (Commodore Vic 20), it has felt as if I have understood the complex machines on an intimate level. My passion as a young boy was programming code via my mothers reluctant electronic investment and playing text adventure games (more on those in another post) until the boxy machine would overheat. Most nights I would stay up way past my bedtime and into the wee hours of the morning pecking away at the clunky keys creating my own version of games and programs in order to satiate a need of solving the electronic puzzles of computers.
As an adult, the tech bug has never left me and I have always been able to innately understand the complex workings of most electronics and the newest user interfaces. I have an iPhone, iPad and iMac that all speak to each other seamlessly on my command. I am on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. I run two blogs and am the go to person for all of my friends that have issues navigating their “mysterious” electronic equipment.
Frankly, I love it. But how does one find a balance and connection between a sacred, spiritual practice and a society riddled with social media within a disconnected world?
The answer may be more familiar than you think. However putting that answer into action may be the tough part.
The answer is simply, brace your mula bandha, ‘discipline’.
It’s true. The same energy that motivates us to wake up at 5am for asana practice can be the same source to fuel discipline that can help us to temporarily disconnect from the time robbing addictions of Pinterest, Facebook and texting.
Here are 6 tips to help you find balance between the ancient practices of yoga and modern day convenience.
1. Open your day. The first thing you can do in the morning before logging in or even picking up your device is to find a spot in your home that is free from distraction for 10-15 minutes. This includes kids, pets, spouses, etc. Once you find your ‘spot’, take time for yourself by beginning your day with some conscious breathing and intention setting. Take 15-20 rounds of Ujjayi breath followed by a brief meditation that is focused on a positive intention for the day. Conscious breathing helps to ground and center the physical and mental systems while setting an intention can help to be a guide for the day ahead as well as a go to thought to help keep you grounded when the press is on.
2. Notice when you are using your device as a distraction. Sitting in a long line at the DMV or at the grocery store? All to often we use our devices as a ‘distraction’ from what is happening at the present moment. Instead of changing your online status to “Jabbing pens in my eyes” and then stalking your ex-boyfriend on Facebook, why not try striking up a conversation with the person next to you. With human interaction getting more and more scarce, it might just surprise you what kind of response you get from your neighbor in check out lane #6.
3. Be mindful of how often you check your device after 7pm. Unless you are waiting on a life changing notification, what are you possibly going accomplish by constantly checking your device every 3 minutes? Allow yourself to disconnect at night in order to prepare your system for sleep. We tend to spend so many hours each day in anticipation and anxiety that our bodies can release stress responding chemicals like adrenaline which prevent our bodies from relaxing properly. Even subtle anxieties such as hearing the “ding” of a new email or seeing the red alert of a social media notification can initiate the same chemical response. Shut down early to enjoy a few more Z’s and wake more refreshed.
4. Disconnect completely at least 1 hour before bedtime. Studies have shown that electronic devices such as tablets and cell phones emit a light that, to our brains, mimic sunlight. So when we read a book on our tablet or even innocently update our statuses on social media to let everyone know that you are going to bed, we can actually be telling our brains that it is time to rise and shine. Try leaving all electronics out of the bedroom for a week and see if you can notice the difference in your sleep patterns.
5. Take a day off. Remember the days when everything shut down for one day a week? Stores and businesses would close on Sunday’s in order to adhere to something called the “Blue Laws”. Try applying the same principal to help allow yourself to limit or even disconnect from your electronics completely at least one day during your week. Take this day to be with friends, family or even by yourself with a good book or some quiet meditation. If you cannot disconnect completely, be mindful on that day of how long you spend on your device and have an intention of keeping things short. Setting aside this time can be instrumental in regaining the balance between our connection to the information age and our true selves.
6. Include family and friends. Let the people around you know what you are up to. Share with your co-workers, kids and BFF about how you are setting boundaries with technology. To ‘Be the change we want to see in the world’ means initiating steps and cultivating new routines within ourselves first in order to influence others. Set limits on children’s video gaming, start an “Electronic Free Lunchtime” campaign at work or inspire others by just simply setting your own disciplines and sticking to them.
At the end of the day, we are well on our way in to the technological 21st century. Texting, emails and social media are now very much part of our society and extremely beneficial in the ways of efficiency and how we communicate, but that doesn’t mean that we must completely surrender ourselves to a lifestyle that can potentially disconnect us from the rest of humanity.
Turn off your phone and then go for a walk in a park, meet a friend for lunch or just take a few moments back in your day by breathing deep and observing all the awesomeness that is happening in the present moment.