In April I read an article on Notable called “Why I am Trying Meditation Every Day for a Month” and I was immediately transfixed by Eric’s style of life, which looked incredibly familiar to mine. Also I found myself nodding in agreement at the explanation of his daily habits.
Busy, busy, busy. Working, training, life. Email. Social Media. Busy.
Responding the to buzz of my phone at every email, turning on my phone right after waking up and keeping it on until bed time. Reaching for the phone hour upon hour, my own electronic addiction, begging for constant attention.
Sometimes when reaching into my purse and in seeking the phone I would melt into a blind panic when I couldn’t feel the familiar and inviting rectangular shape at the tips of my fingers. Where is my phone? What will I do without it? The relief I would feel flood over me when I found the device was palpable, immediate. Thank God, there is my phone.
Couple years ago Jon and I decided to keep our phones off the table at dinner and out of our bedroom. We’d made minimal rules about phone use but those two rules we stuck to, which I pridefully would explain to other friends and colleagues about our relationship. I easily adhered to this general “no-phone” principal when out with friends; but even that has waned in recent months.
Let me just grab a pic, this is an amazing Instagram, let’s snapchat this moment.
I made excuses for my iPhone addiction based on my work. I’m an entrepreneur, I would explain to people, being available is important to my business. Somehow I highly doubt a client is going to expect a return to an email sent at 9:30pm on a Friday night or if a tweet goes longer than a few hours unanswered. What began to trouble me is that I started to feel lost without my phone in hand, divulging myself with the fantasy that I was simply so important I required to be connected non-stop during my waking hours. I harboured a secret, scary belief that not responding to a text or email in a short period of time would make me less of a person, less of a business woman.
I had no limits over my phone, and this troubled me deeply.
In addition to my constant seeking of my phone, I was noticing a constant prattling in my brain (explained to me by a friend as “monkey mind“) that I found hard to shut off. I’d find myself sometimes sitting in front of someone nodding but not really listening. My mind would be rattling off lists, entertaining random thoughts and generally being everywhere except for right in front of me. The same friend who made me aware of monkey mind suggested I try meditating, something I have half heartedly experimented with for years.
There is a wellspring of well documents positive effects of meditation, and I wanted to reap the rewards of a calmer, more focused, more present mind. I wanted to feel the dual effect of using my technology – and not it using me – and being more rooted in the here and now. What would happen when I tried this experiment?
I’m only a few weeks in and hardly a raging success, but I did draw lines around when and where I’d use my phone. I’m working towards a full day of being unplugged (Sunday) but for the time being I am going to simply settle on a few hours at a time. My meditation is mostly a struggle, but I still sit every day for five minutes quietly.
Larger than meditation and dealing with my phone there lives a deeper purpose to this mindfulness. While morbid, I can’t ignore the fact that in May we bypassed the nine year anniversary of Emma passing away, and in a few days time we will arrive at the one year anniversary of Karen passing away. While I no longer spend full days dwelling in grief or fixating on my own mortality, I find that considering these women reminds me to be aware that my own life is finite, a passing through, a moment in the large scale of time. These deeper existential questions of time might keep me pondering and working through my own purpose(s) in this lifetime, but the reminder that life is fragile keeps me rooted in my desire to be present with myself in meditation and be present with others in my days, despite how I choose or don’t choose to spend my time.
I’m working on with my iPhone and I’m working on my mind. I’m still a work in progress.