Following post is contributed by our member teahers Aaron & Chantelle
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How To Balance Technology Time With Real Connection Time
Like most people in these times, I am pretty addicted to my phone and computer. OK, I’m very addicted! Like most addictions I feel a bit embarrassed about this, especially when I get my weekly unasked-for summary from my phone of the daily hours I’ve spent on it.
Often, I fantasise about getting rid of my phone all together, but the reality is, we are in an online world, and even more so now. I run my own business and rely on being able to share what I do online. But how many of you can relate to going onto IG to post something for work and half an hour later realise you have been scrolling through stories absentmindedly and haven’t even done what you meant to come on for?
I have tried locking my phone in a cupboard, setting ambitious phone free weeks and unsuccessfully forcing my loved ones around me to implement my tech ban, removing all self-responsibility in the process. Unsurprisingly, these measures are rarely successful, as I am really just addressing the surface of the problem.
Over the past couple of weeks I have come to think about why it is that I spend all this time on technology. I notice I spend a lot more time on my phone when I am tired and overworked. In this state, I am often looking for empty distraction and it can feel hard to do something more restorative like meditation or a self-practice, even if I know it’s better for me. These patterns often lead me to sleeping badly, where I go back to falling asleep to the monotonous scroll of IG stories, wake up checking emails and spiking my stress response, and getting deeper and deeper into an unhealthy cycle.
So then the question is, why do I still end up so tired and overworked so regularly? When I use the practice of Tantra to explore what is sitting underneath my default behaviours, I am able to get a better understanding of what is happening and how I can address it. I have discovered that my workaholism often comes from a place of not feeling worthy enough just as I am. A lot of my identity has been placed in my ability to be a capable, accomplished, working person and detaching this from my true worth can be incredibly confronting. But living in this cycle of working hard, exhaustion, collapsing in a heap and repeat is losing its charm. I don’t want to keep repeating this pattern forever, and am starting to realise there is more to me than just my ability to get a lot done.
So over the next few weeks, I am going to try a gentler approach to first address the reason I default back to passive technology use so often, and to then keep encouraging myself back to restorative rest (e.g. meditation, time in nature, creative play time, cooking etc) vs passive rest (watching netflix, mindless eating, phone scrolling etc.)
If you would like to join me in this, I would love to hear how you go.
Continue reading below for an excerpt from the Eliyah Soul Centred Business Manual by Chantelle Raven, which is part of the online course and which goes further into how you can balance your technology time with the rest of your life.
At the end of the blog there are also some further suggestions to support you in implementing more technology free time in your life.
Xx Erin and Raven
EXCERPT FROM THE SOUL CENTERED BUSINESS MANUAL by Chantelle Raven
Are you the type of person who is constantly distracted by your phone, frenetically responding to messages, checking social media and flicking between emails? Stressing and feeling anxious when the battery is low? Replacing real connection with cyber-space connection? This is so draining to your energy and it’s definitely not honouring to the people you are with. What would it feel like to switch your phone to “do not disturb” whenever you are with people or set time aside to connect with yourself? Technology is a huge interruption not only to your social time but also to your capacity to just be here, in the now, feeling what there is to feel, experiencing what there is to experience, learning what there is to learn and listening to what there is to listen to.
You cannot balance connection with purpose if you are always being distracted with social media, messages and emails.
What if you were more curious about the people and experiences available to you, instead of hunching over your phone and ending up with a foggy head and aching fingers? What if you gave yourself permission to stop working or filling the void and chose instead, to be fully present? How often do you kick back and absorb the atmosphere without checking your phone or being in a constant state of restless technological input and output? Have you ever thought that life could BE a meditation if you could relax, breath in and out deeply, and become lovingly aware of whatever was in front of you?
Smartphones steal not only this moment, but also our creativity and the time and space to actually think, observe and feel. They create a kind of relentlessness energy of distraction from the physical reality surrounding you. I called time on this creeping relentlessness a few weeks back by turning off my phone at dinner and then not turning it back on until after my morning practice. This has made a world of difference, as has putting my phone on flight mode and/or “offline” periodically throughout the day. I have been able to sustain more focus, practice meditation more deeply as a way of life and give my loved ones the full attention they deserve. I can see now where I was neglecting them for my phone! Given my natural pull towards responding to people straight away, caretaking, making sure everything and everyone is okay, this has been a significant achievement for me. Setting aside time to just rest or sit in silence at intervals throughout the day just watching my thoughts and feelings, has also helped hugely.
It’s extremely hard to justify taking time out for myself sometimes, between my responsibilities and the children, but it is always worth it, and I am now managing to do this several times a day. It’s difficult to put into words the difference that it makes because it’s quite intangible and subtle – yet so profound. Not surprisingly, it makes me more productive and helps me to feel calmer around kids. It’s really just a very small part of the day dedicated to acknowledging how I feel and where I am. It’s incredibly simple. It’s not a self-help technique or guided visualisation. It’s just a pause, full inhales and exhales, then a checking in of what’s going on “in there”.
We need to think of our mental health in the same way we do our physical health. We understand the stress and exhaustion of physical hard work yet struggle to do the same for our psychological wellbeing. Similarly, our view of conditions such as depression and anxiety should acknowledge that mental wellbeing is a spectrum. It’s not a case of being labelled with a mental illness or not. We are all susceptible to stress, anxiety and exhaustion, which all too often lead to depression. I take my mental health seriously. I need to have a consistent release of tension through breath, sound and movement, and I also need to consciously go into a meditative state “on and off the mat” which provides a space for release too.
This can be done when you are alone and when people are around – so long as your phone isn’t going off all the time and distracting you! I’ve also started leaving my phone at home at different times, which is a great practice.
Technology can be amazing – it saves us time, makes communication easier and speedier, gives us access to so much information that is informative and enlightening – if it is balanced with real, present, technology-free time.
HOW TO IMPLEMENT TECHNOLOGY FREE TIME
If you find yourself resistant to, or struggling to implement technology free time, start with small steps.
- Turn your phone off at dinner time
- Leave your phone and computer in another room overnight, so you can at least start your day in presence with yourself, and not immediately to scrolling social media, checking emails etc.
- Consider a tech-free day once a week, perhaps on a weekend
- Sit with and reflect on whatever emotions arise when you remove technology from your day and then use some of the tools we have shared in these blogs to move the emotion and resistance through the body for example, Daily Practices to Shift Stress or our Tantric Somatic Meditation Practice.
- Develop a Daily Practice, ideally in the morning, to start your day without technology and spending time checking in with yourself
- Reach out for support. Find someone or a few people who might be keen to try and implement more technology free time in their lives and start an accountability group when you check in and support each other with your progress.