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.

My number one strategy (and a couple of others) for getting my ass to class

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Isn't the human experience amazing? We know exactly what we need to do to take care of ourselves and make ourselves feel good, and yet, we don't do it. We know how we feel after taking a yoga class, and yet we have to carry ourselves there kicking and screaming to make it happen some days. I bet you think as a yoga teacher that isn't the case for me.

Oh how I wish you weren't so very wrong!

Here's a recent experience of mine:

Decide to go to yoga class because I haven't been in awhile. Put it on my calendar (we'll talk more about that in a second). Day comes. Find myself still at the computer working on the studio website when my alarm goes off telling me it's time to stop and get going. Waste time trying to figure out where the heck my keys are. Get out the door and realize I've forgotten my water bottle (much needed for the class I'm going to). Finally get in the car and hit the highway only to be stuck in traffic. The "plenty of time" cushion I left myself starts to disappear before my eyes. Finally get to the area of the studio only to find that in the evening, parking is not so easy. Time continuing to evaporate. Finally get a spot, run to the studio and start removing layers in the elevator. Throw my stuff down outside the studio door only to hear the OMs begin. Ugh!

As quietly as possible, make my entrance and join in ("oh god, now I'm THAT person. You know. The late one). Of course, I've been running around like a maniac and my adrenaline is pumping like crazy so I sound like an opera singer with a horrific respiratory infection. Finally, I can make my way to an open space and quietly roll out my mat. As I join in the practice I'm still pealing layers (one sock, then the other, one leg warmer, then the other, now the extra shirt, now pull the hair back...) and trying to get my breath back under control.

Now as we really start to flow, since I haven't practiced in awhile I feel as though I'm either carrying an extra one million pounds or that I'm moving through mud. Everything is hard. Everything feels like it's taking more effort than I could possibly give. "Why the hell did I do this today?!" I start to ask myself.

Breathe in. Breathe out. Step the right foot forward. It takes some time, but something starts to shift.

And then the end comes. And as I bow forward to offer up my practice I remember why the hell I did this today.

And then it's time to get back in the car and drive home back to the every day.

Sound familiar? I've been to a good number of yoga classes in my life. And even the ones that, in my mind, weren't so great for whatever reason? I still feel that moment of openness, space and clarity at the end. I still feel that incredible shift that says "This is a good thing to do for myself. I should do it more often."

So then the question becomes, how do I make space in my life to get on the mat and practice?

My story above gives you a couple of strategies that may help. Let me make them more obvious:

1. SCHEDULE YOUR PRACTICE TIME LIKE ANY OTHER APPOINTMENT. This includes group classes, home practice and really, any other self care you need. If you make an appointment to go to the doctor you don't just say to yourself 10 minutes before it, "Eh. I don't feel like it today. I think I'll pass." You go. Because you've made a commitment to yourself and to that other person. What commitment could be more important than the one you make to yourself? So you have to decide, is getting to yoga an important part of your commitment to yourself? If the answer is yes than schedule your yoga appointment! I like to sit down with my calendar on Sunday evenings and look through my week and put my yoga class on my schedule. Then I know that time is "booked" and I can't schedule anything else during that time. Of course, life happens and sometimes the universe has other plans, but if you get in this habit you are much more likely to make the time you need to get yourself to class.

2. USE TECHNOLOGY TO YOUR ADVANTAGE. Do you have a To Do list (I love the Wunderlist app)? Maybe you put your class on your To Do list for the day or set yourself a reminder about your class. Just about everyone has some kind of alarm on their phone, computer, microwave or what have you these days. Do you find yourself rushing out the door at the last second? Set an alarm 15 min. (or more) before you have to leave. Give yourself that bit of time to wrap up whatever you were doing and get yourself out the door. In my story above I was still technically late, but I would have been a lot later if I hadn't set my alarm!

3. REMEMBER WHAT IT FEELS LIKE WHEN YOU TAKE THIS TIME FOR YOURSELF. The next time your in class and you find yourself at the end, maybe just take a moment to take a few last deep breaths and savor the feeling you have. That feeling of shift. That feeling of accomplishment. That feeling of joy and wonder at how your body has served you and how you have served it by making the time to nourish it in this most amazing way. Hold that in your mind and draw upon it the next time you just don't feel like getting off the couch. And when you do get off the couch, give yourself a little pat on the back. It isn't easy, but you did it! Good for you!!

Obviously, no one is perfect and certainly not me! I (obviously!) still have my days of struggle to get on the mat. But these little steps have made it easier for me to find the space in my day to make it happen. I hope they help you too.

Did you enjoy this article? Have another strategy that works for you that you'd like to share? Leave it in the comments! I'd love to hear from you!

See you in class!

Namasté!