I recently fell asleep at my computer. I’m not sure how long I was there, sitting upright, laptop open, hands on the keys. I just know that, at one point, I was writing and the next, I was waking up. When I began it was light outside and when I awoke it was dark. It had been awhile.
Our world moves at a pace that’s hard to keep up with. Faced with the ambient expectation of being connected at all times, available to respond 24/7 to the emails, texts, slack messages, and work flow that presents itself, we check our devices as we nod off to sleep and as we awake. Computers in our cars offer us the opportunity to work on the way in to the office or school and computers in our pockets allow us to order food and clothes, check social media, play games and watch movies, and scroll through memes throughout the day once we’re there. Our singing bowls are digital, we meditate with apps, and we know where we rank in relation to other meditators because these apps tell us.
We are faced with constant bids for our attention. Message indicators ping, alarms vibrate, reminders light up. Our internal and external worlds are filled with input and information, all of it, seemingly, important. As a result we oscillate between frantic efforts to keep up and deep dives into endless Netflix marathons in the hopes that all the pressure will fade away. At least for a few moments.
Today is Thursday. Tomorrow will be Friday, a day I’ve long committed to spending at least a part of phone free. I want to invite you to join me. I’m inviting you now so that you don’t have an excuse when tomorrow comes and you are sure you can’t think of a damned thing to do without a device in hand.
Hands Free Friday started with me committing to doing cartwheels in as many places as I could on Fridays. To do a cartwheel in public means you have to be ready at all times so you can sneak one in when no one is watching. To be alert to these moments I couldn’t have my phone in my hands, it needed to be securely tucked away so I could flip upside down on a moment’s notice. Over time Fridays became less about cartwheels and more about having a day where I gave myself permission to leave my phone behind and practice a more embodied way of living. I’d love to have you join me.
When you’re done reading this, I challenge you to take the time to set an alarm on your phone to remind you to power it off/put it down for at least 10 minutes tomorrow. Bring whatever you need to accomplish this with you when you head out for the day. If you need some ideas I’m going to put some here (in no particular order and with no organization). The goal is simple: Prove to your self that you can be phone free for a period of time and see what happens. If you try it, I’d love to know what you notice.
Some Ideas to Get You Started:
Write a haiku
Stare at clouds
Eat something mindfully (paying full attention to taste and texture)
Play with a skill toy (Kendama, YoYo, LunaSticks, etc.)
Read a paper book
Go for a walk
Pray or meditate
Find a place to sit and focus on everything you can hear
Walk slowly barefooted and notice how it feels
Light a candle and gaze at the flame
Do a brain dump (write everything that comes to mind in stream of consciousness fashion)