You: I’m ignoring you.
Phone: Bing! Bing!
You: Listen I AM ignoring you. I’m in the middle of a my prānāyāma session…
Phone: Brrrrrr losing power…
Sound familiar? As a practicing yogi or yogini we know that constant distractions are not a good thing. In an ideal world we would all wander round perfectly focused and in-tune with the “now”. It doesn’t quite work out that way though, what with the monkey mind and the general monkey-life of one thousand and one things that need to be done ten minutes ago. In the 21st century we seem to develop two families: first it’s the wife, husband, child or pet, and second is a growing family of devices, communication aids and other electronic equipment — all competing for our undivided attention.
We’re Losing Our Focus
We know that mobile devices and computers can be good thing, they keep us in touch and can help with our yogic endeavours whether timing, informing or playing music while we engage in our pursuits. They can work wonders for the socially aware yogi too, and with the right apps they can even help us with our practice. But when do all the benefits of technology become a little too inviting? The stimulation is something that the monkey mind wants to return more often than it should — like a mental magpie collecting shiny trinkets!
You only have to look at the various stats available to see how bad the grip on us can be:
- 1 in 5 motorists admit to accessing social media sites while driving.
- You’re 4 times more likely to have an accident while driving using a mobile phone.
- Our rapidly diminishing attention span was 12 seconds in 2000 and now lagging behind the goldfish at 8 seconds, blamed on the electronic communication revolution.
- Social media has been shown to have many negative aspects including addiction, instigating general unhappiness, making us restless and drawing more of our attention and thereby leading to multi-tasking.
What is attracting so much attention? Social status updates, texts, emails, instant messages… The list gets longer all the time and most adults have signs of addiction towards their phones. There’s even a proper name for it now: Nomophobia, the fear of being out of mobile phone contact.
Is Your Mobile Negatively Affecting Your Life?
Here are a few warning signs to keep an eye out for to see if your nomophobia is particularly bad:
- You panic if you don’t know where your phone is.
- You check the train or room for power points for charging on entering.
- When was the last time you watched a movie without being distracted?
- You open your browser and lose track of the reason you actually were searching.
- Your yoga is easily interrupted by electronic messages.
- Your attention span has degraded down to that of a small gnat, only to be refocused by that chime on your phone.
- Siri has decided to no longer speak to you. “Ok Google!” draws a stony silence and a distinctly audible electronic sigh.
So what can a yoga-enthused person do about such an intrusion into their head space? As a self-confessed geek myself who is very prone to such distractions, I think I can safely give some advice!
1. Decide Where To Place Your Attention
Whenever you feel that itch to reach for your phone, think for a second. Where are you now and what are you doing? Is what you’re currently doing worthy of your full and undivided attention? If so, would taking out your phone enrich or diminish the experience you’re having right now?
2. Schedule Your Social Media Time
Designate particular times for checking your social media and electronic communications. Have you ever tried counting the amount of times you check your phone (or feel the urge)? You might be surprised at how high that number can get! By deliberately dedicating time to not use social media, you’re actually creating more time for other things you want to do! Don’t worry, those notifications won’t go away!
3. Lay The Ground Rules
Everyone has (or knows someone who has) a really needy friend who starts to grate on their nerves — but why are we so tolerant of that friend when it’s our phone? Sure, your cell phone is an important tool in case people need to get in contact you, but do you really need your cell phone to interrupt you to say someone favourited your Instagram photo? By limiting the notifications that pop up on your phone, you regain that control you lost by inviting it to interrupt your life.
4. Be Okay With Being Unavailable
Similarly, you wouldn’t thank the people you live with for waking you up in the middle of the night, so why would it be okay for your phone to do it? Choose to shut it off before going to sleep, or better yet let it charge in another room, and you’ll have a better sleep, wake up more peacefully and be more able to face the demands of the day ahead. Very few people should have the right to access you 24/7, and if they do they’ve had to earn that privilege.
You Can Take Charge
Our digital technology can be very useful but it’s difficult to realise when we are giving it too much of our attention. They directly counteract much of what we try to accomplish on our mats due to the non-mindful and addictive traits they foster in us. Try a few of the above, and start to build an awareness for when you pick up your phone and why. Just think what you could do with all the spare time you save from checking that email account yet again!
Have you noticed any of negative traits appearing in your life? Have you tried any of the tips above before and found them useful (or not useful)? Is there a different technique that works for you? Whatever the case, we’d love to hear from you in the comments below!