What I Learn When I Turn Off My Phone

Last year, I wrote about the one big, bad misconception on meditation. Spoiler: The misconception is that meditation is about clearing your mind to 100% blank space.

Brains are made for thinking; at least, the part we’re conscious of.

Instead, meditation is about detaching enough from our thinking that we can observe our thoughts and, in that way, notice our stories and the kinds of repetition that bog us down. For example, when I started truly observing my thoughts, I found that many of them were related to planning in some way, as though a perfect enough plan would set me up for a completely perfect outcome.

Oh, perfectionism, you sneaky little devil, you!

One of the things I decided toward the beginning of this month as part of realizing how wrapped up I was in the Push of achievement was that I needed to rest more and be more thoughtful about it. One of the changes I made was a commitment to zero phone or laptop time on Saturdays. Friday evening, I power them down and don’t turn them back on until Sunday morning.

(Pro tip: Be sure to tell your BFF when you are going to do these kinds of things or he may well spend Saturday worrying about you when his calls go straight to voicemail and then show up early Sunday morning fearing the worst. Oops.)

Turns out, turning off my technology – especially my phone – is its own kind of meditation; it offers its own way of helping me see myself more clearly. When my technology is off, I notice the number of times I think about it. I want to take a picture, or look up a random factoid, or plug Instagram into every spare minute of downtime.

When my technology is off, I notice how tired I am. And when I power back up, I notice how the stimulation it provides mutes my exhaustion almost instantly.

When my technology is off, I notice how many mechanisms I have in place that offer me instant gratification in place of a deeper connection with myself.

Much in the way that I had to work through a lot of resistance before starting my meditation practice in 2013, I’m having to work through resistance every weekend as a part of me protests the break from the Pavlovian relationship I have with my phone. It pings and I feel wanted, needed, connected. I have a random whim and it enables me to follow the thought.

Resistance is like a little flag within us that suggests a moment of introspection: Is this resistance telling me I’m going awry or is it telling me that I’m simply going into uncharted territory?

Notice when you feel resistance to moving forward or changing things up and bring some presence and curiosity. It’s in that curiosity-filled pause that we find our inner guidance and get a glimpse of our inner workings.