Have you ever wondered how technology is affecting your happiness levels? I recently tasked myself with a ‘Digital Detox’, as I had to take a deeper look. So, I set myself some ground rules for minimising my use of technology - in particular banning social media - for a few days, to see what might unfold…
You see, I had started to notice patterns in myself – a correlation between how I felt on mornings where I woke up and looked straight at my phone, versus the luxury of mornings started with quiet time in meditation, or being present with my husband and little one as part of a positive and uplifting morning routine.
The mornings spent in quiet contemplation, or connecting with loved ones, seemed to flow into a feeling of presence and contentment on the whole, more easily managing the challenging moments, whereas waking up device in hand was sending me straight into fight or flight mode. I realised there was definitely something to this, and I knew I wasn’t alone…
My Digital Detox Experiment
It started as a simple detox from social media, a habit I had found to be a culprit in diminishing my happiness levels over recent times. Social media tends to take us straight into comparison mind-set, without the discernment that what people share on these platforms only represents the tiniest snippet of their life, and usually only the positive moments…of course we end up feeling bad about ourselves.
“To be honest, as ‘scary’ as the thought of detoxing originally was – even the first few hours of my detox began to give me a pleasant feeling of…relief.”
I had come to a place where I was checking my phone a hundred times a day (shocking, but try counting yourself – you may well be surprised!), not going anywhere without it, and even holding it closely in the palm of my hand when really, is that necessary? I was realising that although it seemed crazy to call this an addiction, perhaps it wasn’t that far from it? I would wake up in the morning and check my emails, social media, work reports, and immediately be thrown into a sense of ‘must do’. Not healthy, and not present. If not an addiction, then it was certainly becoming a bad habit that needed breaking, and that’s what a ‘detox’ is all about.
Being a Yogi, I thought I had been practicing towards fine-tuning my awareness, becoming more attuned to the workings of my body, mind and beyond, but this one had crept up on me, as it has most of us.
Even in the first few hours of my digital detox, I started noticing the moments where habit struck – the impulse to have a quick scroll through Instagram, the urge to check for a response from a message sent earlier, etc. But instead of feeling anxious at having limited access, I found myself instead feeling a sense of peace, freedom and liberation – simply from allowing myself to say NO to instant connectivity and screen time – a total win! Even more profound, I started feeling a stronger sense of connection to my Self slowly creeping back in…
What does Yoga have to do with technology?
Well, nothing, but then also - everything. Where the practices of Yoga take us further into ourselves, our true nature, and connecting deeper with the inner workings of our bodies, minds and beyond; technology tends to take us further away. The very goal of Yoga is ‘union’ and is often also described as ‘happiness or freedom from suffering’. Although technology might in some ways make certain parts of life easier or quicker, is this making us happier? I dare to suggest not.
More often, the faster pace of life, increased methods of instant ‘communication’ and time spent staring at screens instead of real-life people, makes us feel less connected to ourselves and each other.
The practice of Yoga is a practice in presence, in being here in the moment, and alive with great awareness. It is a practice of waking up! The modern advances in technology, despite giving us wonderful opportunities of ‘connectivity’, global reach, shared information and instant gratification, are also creating a sort of disconnection from ourselves, others and the direct moment that we are living in.
One of the biggest issues we see in how technology advancements are affecting our quality of life is the increasing demands on speed of delivery, constantly being switched ‘on’, and the requirement to keep-up, putting us on a treadmill towards anxiety + overwhelm.
This is where the beauty of the practice of Yoga comes in. When we are asked to move consciously, to be aware of each breath, and even encouraged to look through the veil of the mind to see thoughts, memories + stories as they arise, we begin to come back into ourselves, seeing the bigger picture, and into the ever powerful moment of NOW. It is for this reason that I believe we are seeing such a rise in popularity of yoga in Melbourne, as well as all around the Western World, because in these times we need it.
Whether you are practicing a Hot Yoga class or Yin + Meditation here at our Yoga studio in Melbourne or taking some conscious breaths and movements first thing in your day at home, the magic is in the ‘being’.
“In order to detox from the pace of life around us, the demands and the energy-sucking screen time we all endure, we need practices that take us back to our true nature and thus help us to reclaim our peace and happiness.”
And so, what’s the answer?
How do we manage to enjoy all of the benefits of technology without it snowballing into over-use and dare I say it – addiction?
Our challenge is to become more aware and less habitual. Starting with some rules about when and how we choose to engage with our devices, screens and communication tools. Take a good look at your own habits, as well as patterns in your mood, productivity, energy levels and how these habits + patterns correlate with your interactions with technology, and you’ll likely get a pretty clear idea of what needs a ‘control+alt+delete’.
I’m interested to know, what would be the first thing to go for you? Be realistic in your digital detox goals but also make a commitment. Start small with a couple of days and watch how these seemingly minimal changes can make a big and positive impact on your life.
To supercharge your new way-of-life and begin to reconnect with your own inner happiness – my suggestion, as always – is Yoga + Meditation. Have a daily practice that you can commit to, that you know brings you back into a space of feeling more connected to your true nature, more calm, at peace and able to manage facing the big world out there with a strong and resilient inner armour of self-worth.
If you’re really feeling inspired by this blog, I’ve created an event to support just this – my Digital Detox Weekend Retreat in Hepburn Springs (just a 90minutes drive form the Melbourne CBD) which I’ll be leading at the end of November. This weekend is a chance to choose your own digital detox, take yourself ‘off-the-grid’ and instead focus on the practices of Yoga (daily morning practice), Meditation (daily evening practice), and immerse yourself in nature (the most potent antidote to technology overload). For more information and bookings (final spaces!) please contact me: firstname.lastname@example.org
Happy detoxing Yogis,