Have you tried to take a hiatus from your digital device?
It is not easy. But well worth trying, if only to give you an experiential understanding of the costs of digital dependency.
When we disengage from our phones and tablets and screens of all kinds, we experience the world in a different and enlivened way. We can be more present. And along with this shift in perception comes discovery—actually re-discovery—of our myriad capabilities for awareness, not only in and of our immediate environment, but in our connections to the expanded world, inner and outer, as well. It is quite marvelous.
In many ways we used to experience broader awareness and attentiveness more easily. I venture to say we used to take our perceptual range for granted, to consider our awareness ordinary, first when we were children, and more recently as adults who were not digitally preoccupied. Digital dependence is an insidious problem, one that creeps up on us before we fully understand what has happened. And excessive reliance on digital devices is changing the way we as humans function. It impacts cognition, it is changing the architecture of our brains, attention is compromised, and mindfulness is more difficult. We can become distracted from more complete engagement in and with our world.
From my perspective there is additional collateral damage occurring from our dependence on our digital devices: we are compromising our facility and ease of access to our own imaginal and inner resources and thereby risk the erosion of our innate capacities for genius, discernment, and engagement, with others, with nature, with this planet. (For more on the importance of imagination you may like to take a look at https://www.innercounsel.com/discernment-imagination-coming-of-age/.)
When we take a break from our digital devices we make space for creative opportunities. We are able to slow down enough to be present for more than the average 17 seconds between online clicks. We have time for silence. Neural pathways reignite, perception brightens, we notice more about our surroundings and our sensory experiences. We are able to reconnect with self, and refocus and renew our feelings of gratitude and appreciation. This all provides a foundation for discovery and creativity, for that spark of insight, the ah-ha moments of thought and feeling. We gradually realize we are moving from passive engagement (if that is not oxymoronic!) to active engagement in our incarnate experience.
Taking time in silence is an important practice, and taking time away from digital connection is a necessary aspect of practicing silence. The digital realm is noisy and chaotic, and filled with lots of nonsense and diversion. It contains much distraction away from what supports soul and self-light and the creative capacity that is the hallmark of each of our incarnations.
I am not suggesting we shut down our computers for good, or even every day. This technology is useful. Indeed, I am writing this digitally, and you are reading it on one of your devices. It is a wonderful way for us to connect. But I am inviting you to consider whether digital technology is serving you in the best balance for you and your possibilities, and to be sure that you are not serving it.
Dare to disconnect. Try it. Just for a day. I think you will be surprised—both at how difficult it is to do, and by your reawakened awareness when you do it.
There are many articles and mounting research describing the negative effects on adults and children of too much screen time and digital addiction. E.g, this recent article: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/02/23/business/cell-phone-addiction.html. (A quick search will turn up many more.)
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