Aparigraha and Technology

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One of my recent favorite podcasts is a show called Wild Ideas Worth Living. The show has evolved over time but the interviews with people who are living outside of the box that most of us might think of, are so inspiring to me. On a recent episode the topic of discussion was about unplugging from our internet crazed world to be full present for our lives. It made me think about our class theme this month, Aparigraha.

Do you find yourself spending a lot of time on social media and other online tools? Do you find yourself not doing the things you really love because of all that time you spend with technology? It’s happening more and more to so many of us. We know what we need to do to be healthy and even happy, but the possibility of that next “like” coming in to give us that little lift seems ever so much more important. 

There’s science that even backs this up. Each time we get a response to our social media postings we get a little bit of a hit of the feel good chemicals that our brain naturally makes. And while that’s a nice thing, we can get those some good vibe chemicals from much more healthy pursuits such as walking, interacting with people in person and, dare I say it, yoga! 

Don’t get me wrong, It’s not a big deal if you use social media. I certainly do all the time. I have many friends in far flung places and it makes staying in touch with them a lot easier. But when these tools of connection keep us from connecting (when’s the last time you saw two people out to dinner together, not talking to each other at all, just looking at their phones? For me it was just the other day. ;-/) to each other or more importantly, to the things that truly make us healthier and happier, we have a problem.

Aparigraha asks us to find ways to start to loosen our grip on things that impede flow. If we’re constantly grasping at that next like or that next post, we loose a lot of what’s meant to come to us because we can’t even see it (around our phone or computer screen even). So how do we break the cycle? Here are a couple of ideas:

  1. Don’t have your phone in your bedroom or at least don’t reach for it as soon as you wake up. - This can be tough, especially if you have people in your life that may need to get a hold of you at any hour for whatever reason. But if you can at least not start your day by checking your email or social media accounts first, you set yourself up for success for the day.

  2. Turn off your notifications. - Another one that may be really hard for some of us. But, if you turn off your notifications just for certain things like Instagram or Facebook or maybe even your email you are given yourself a CHOICE. YOU get to choose when you check in on these things. Having a choice and not being ruled by that infernal *ding* is a big way to take back control of your time. I did this with email years ago and it had the single biggest effect on my time and attention of anything I had done to that point to control my technology time.

  3. Make a no technology rule with friends/family for a certain time of day. - You’ll have to negotiate this one in advance but talk to your friends and family about this. Maybe you have a party and everyone puts their phone in a basket (this is mentioned in the podcast), maybe you decide that for the hour after you and your spouse arrive home you both don’t use your phones. Again, prior negotiation is key here (you don’t want to spring this one on the equally tech attached in your life) but if you can come together to create boundaries around your technology you’ll actually get to be with each other in a more meaningful way.

I hope this helps you find a way to start being more mindful about the technology in your life. Do you have other strategies you use? Leave a comment and share them with others! I think we can all use some ideas around this topic these days.