By Anya Light
We live in an age of paradox. On the one hand, we have at our fingertips more information than ever before. We are connected through social media. We have the power to spread our message to the far ends of the globe with a single click of a key. Wow! So incredible!
And yet…we are also more disconnected than ever before. When you observe people walking down the street, what do you see? Most likely, you will see many people with their eyes cast downward at their phone. When you stand in line at a grocery store, what do you see? People on their tablets and smartphones. People not speaking with each other. People not noticing their surroundings. Each person in their own little private bubble.
OUR PHYSICAL BODIES ARE AWESOME!
For a few years now, I have wondered if I was a curmudgeon. I have noticed these changes in people, and it makes me sad. I’ve often asked myself: Do I hate technology?
The answer is no, however. It is simply that part of my life’s work, my healing work with humanity, is to encourage people bring awareness back into their sacred body. I am a kind of counterbalance to the intense mania our society is experiencing with regards to technology. I am the voice of harmony. A whisper to peace.
People often ask me: What is the secret of happiness? What is the secret of inner peace? While I by no means claim to dwell in these states 24/7, I will say that I have done some very persistent and often challenging work to understand and occupy these states quite intimately. In my life now there are more peaceful days than stressful days. There are more happy days than sad.
In my healing work, I’m continually reminding people about our basic human needs for hugs, touch, tactile sensation, deep expression of emotion, quality verbal communication, and the infinite spiritual growth that can be perceived through our physical vessel. Our bodies are awesome!
An overuse of technology, however, is causing many to increasingly lose touch with their inner body-awareness and with their face-to-face social skills. Recent studies have shown, for example, an increase in social anxiety among plugged-in students and adolescents.
In my own life, I have witnessed an increase over the years of colleagues, family, and friends seemingly losing their social skills. For example, when they attempt to initiate in-depth, highly emotional conversations via text message. These are situations that are, in my opinion, totally inappropriate to the flat medium of text messaging. For example, a new potential lover broaches the topic of whether we will take our relationship to the next level via text. What?? Seriously?? In order to have a conversation about a significant “big” matter, we need to be able to have all the tools at our disposal, a range of bodily input: we both need to see body language, the emotion in the eyes, and we need to have the possibility of a hug or an encouraging pat on the hand available. Using a flat screen to communicate is a severely limited medium.
SOME TIPS FOR REGAINING BALANCE
No, I’m not a luddite. In fact, I love technology! I adore and treasure my Macbook. I appreciate my GPS. I am grateful for the power of Google to answer any factual question I dream up. I appreciate the fact that the blog you are reading right now is an amazing tool that helps me spread my words to folks in Pakistan, Romania, Poland, Finland, Mexico, England, China. I love the fact that I have friends and colleagues all over the world. However, I temper that appreciation by making sure I have a balance of plugged-in and unplugged time. I don’t go overboard.
Here are three of examples of how I maintain this balance in my life.
The ringer on my phone is perpetually set to “off.” Some people think this is insane, but I think it’s the one of the things keeping me sane! The only exception to this rule is that I will leave my phone on if I know in advance that I am going to receive a call at a specific time.
Keeping my ringer off allows me to gain focus and concentration throughout my day. If my eyes and ears were continually drawn to my phone with every beep and whistle, how could I sustain any sort of momentum or flow in my daily tasks?
I take at least one day per week to be totally unplugged. On these days, I put my laptop away in the closet. I turn off my phone and put it in a drawer. Out of sight, out of mind.
During these unplugged days, I focus on embodied tasks: cleaning my home, flossing, exercising, inviting a friend over for tea, preparing an intricate dinner with my own two hands, baking bread. I dance in my living room. I bend into yoga shapes. I breathe. I take a walk out in my neighborhood and smile at my neighbors. I make conversation and eye contact. I breathe. I look at the sky. I look at the birds. I feel the precious Earth under my feet.
I make sure to exercise every day. On the days when I am plugged in, I make sure to move my body as much as possible, and I limit the time I spend sitting at my desk staring at my monitor. As an Aries with an abundance of fire energy, this is vitally important to my wellbeing—however, any person can benefit from this, whether you have fire in your astrological chart or not.
If we sit motionless for too long and stare at screens all day, there are life force energies inside our bodies that become stagnant. This breeds stress, anxiety, and illness. We need to remember to move our bodies to keep the energy flowing. With a flowing energy, we are open to life, and we can more easily perceive the sacredness of each moment. We can feel peace.
MEDITATION AS DAILY LIFE
Meditation means to be present in the actions of everyday life. It means to feel our breath. It means to feel the movement in our limbs and the sensations in our face. Sometimes it means laughing and sometimes it means crying. It means having an awareness of the pains and discomforts we sometimes feel. It means feeling the sheer joy of being alive, of being contained as consciousness within this beautiful physical vessel.
Meditation comes in so many different forms. Yes, seated meditation is wonderful, but equally wonderful is movement meditation. Yoga is a powerful form of this, but there are so many other ways we can do it that don’t necessarily involve a teacher or having to pay money.
What is a secret to peace? It’s as simple as making the conscious choice to bring a balance between enjoying our screens and enjoying our bodies and the physical world around us.
Dear friend, make the choice to unhook yourself—at least a little bit every day—from the persuasive pull of technology. Come back into your beautiful body and come back into communion with the beautiful physical world. Put your phone down. Go outside and take a walk. Say “good morning” to your neighbor. Ask them about their day. Stop and smile at a squirrel. Be in your body. Be in your beautiful life.