Many of us are addicted to our Facebook news feeds’ and are choosing to check out from our experience of right here, right now, in favour of a backlit experience on our mobiles.
As humans we crave and thrive on the intimate connections we form with the seasons, our family, friends, our world, and yet often, we fail to show up and be present for real life, because we’re feeling scattered, restless and preoccupied with maintaining our online persona.
When did our here and now become so painful, bland or unmoving that the better alternative became to not exist in it?
As any follower of Brene Brown would attest, when we check out from our discomfort, our pain, our anguish, by reaching for a temporary fix, we also check out from our joy. We can’t dull one, without dulling the other.
I strongly believe that the compulsion we can feel to check our news feed when we’re running late for work or to hash tag our daily errands, is absolutely, without a doubt connected to our fear of vulnerability. And it is that fear of vulnerability, of real, raw intimate connection that keeps many of us glued to a screen rather than playing with our kids, paying our bills on time or feeling the cold wind on our face.
Chat time, Matthew G, Flickr
It can be really painful being a human being. There are a lot of shit things that happen as a part of life. People get cancer, beloved pets die, counties go to war and once pristine rivers become polluted.
But, over the border there are also a lot of amazing, wonderful, absolutely roll over delightful things that happen. People get married, cure themselves of diseases when the doctor deems their case terminal, some start not for profit organisations and others have beautiful healthy babies.
When we choose to check into social media, as a means to check out from our feelings, our needs, the seasons, we are effectively putting life in the too hard basket.
“Nah man, that feeling is too much for me right now, I’m just going to check the news feed I checked five minutes ago, and see if someone else commented on my status.”
My intention is not to brandish social media as something bad, and our attachment to our technology as unnecessary or wrong.
Let’s face it; this is the way we live now. We live out our lives through social media, through the Internet. It’s how we do business and connect with our family interstate, it’s how we meet the loves of our lives and to decide what to have for dinner. It has a lot of great, practical, socially responsible uses!
That said living fast and addicted to doing, whilst resigning ourselves to the notion that that is simply the way life rolls today, whilst ignoring the person inside that may so desperately need to SLOW DOWN, feel their feelings and really hear the leaves beneath their feet, isn’t sustainable.
IHOP Cell Phone Meal Family, Artotem, Flickr
So is there any possible way to help ourselves out? To feel that connection we may so desperately crave, to SLOW DOWN and to quit procrastinating and confront our problems?
There might just be a way, and I am going to put it to you that the way could possibly, maybe, just almost be through mindfulness.
Yes, it is the buzz word of the moment in all the positive psychology circles but I guess what I’ve realised, is that mindfulness doesn’t necessarily need to be about sitting quietly down crossed legged focused on a candle, breathing deeply or even having a daily practice. Sure, these things can be helpful and awesome, but I believe that it can be much more simple and a lot less formal than that.
Mindfulness can simply be about making an agreement with ourselves. An agreement to be self-aware; to notice when we are checking out from our physical and emotional experience of life by eating when we’re not hungry, downloading our emails at the dinner table and avoiding that overdue assignment or confronting conversation. To notice when we are putting life in the too hard basket and using technology or some other form of mental distraction to dissociate from what could potentially be too painful to feel.
This commitment would be one that sees us choose the raw unbridled NOW, as opposed to the diluted version of THEN, or TOMORROW, because that present moment, that’s what we were made for.
Believe it or not, we are strong, really strong! And those feelings that many of us try so hard to quell with our addiction to busyness, to doing; those feelings are safe to feel. Connection is ok! We were made for that. We have the strength and the tools to weather it.
It can be really un-fun sometimes to deal with the confrontation, the anxiety or the sleeplessness. But in the long run it is much more un-fun to be always on the hunt for an escape hatch.
In the HERE, the NOW, TODAY, this is where we can be who we really are, not who we might feel we ought to be, need to be or should be for appearances sake.
Mindful living is not so much about putting limits around what we can and cant do, by suggesting that technology is our undoing, but rather it is about cultivating the self awareness that then enables us the space and the freedom to choose what we do and don’t want from our relationships, our work and our lives.
Mindfulness is a tool for empowerment, for strength and for connection. Not one that sees us miss out on all the fun.
When we choose the NOW and to look after our mental health by unplugging, when we know it’s long overdue, we are being extremely brave and it is acts of courage like this that can profoundly impact the quality of our lives for the better.
Words: Jess Phillips