April 5, 2012

My Technology Zaps Me from Being Present. {Article in English & Spanish}

Para leerlo en Español,  haga clic aquí.



Today, after I finished teaching a private on Miami Beach, I walked outside and immediately started checking my email. All of a sudden, an impulse came over me to put my phone away and just look around.

I lowered my iPhone, lifted my head here’s what I saw…

I saw the sun illuminating the city so brightly to wake us all up and play, work and feel life.

I saw a group of trees dancing a choreographed sequence that they repeatedly try to attract onlookers who don’t notice them.

I saw a glow around all the buildings that made it seem as though they were vibrating in unison.

I saw life.

And, I miss it every time I look down at my phone to check my email, check a text message or look at Facebook.

Not only am I missing all the natural beauty that surrounds me, I am also confirming to the universe that I am not present. There is nothing present about using Facebook, updating a status that has already happened, even if it was a few moments ago.

I often stop myself from saying, “Oh, what a beautiful thing I just experienced” because I realize that by typing it into my status I am missing the point of it and diminishing its value as well. In addition, I am not being present because the experience already passed. Facebook is the anti-yogi in this way.

Photo: State Library and Archives of Florida

Technology today has exploded. I remember as a kid I used to tell my mother, “Oh, if only I pressed a button and everything would just happen for me.”

Yes, I was a lazy kid.

And now, that’s exactly how it is. And it’s a touch screen so it isn’t even an actual button anymore but an image of a button.

My two-year-old niece already knows how to find angry birds on my phone and play. Although she slings the bird in the opposite direction, she still gets it.

Generations to come may lose their ability to have dexterity because they can now manipulate images on a screen instead of tangible objects. I know I am dating myself by sharing my feelings in the clichéd way of “Back in my day…,” but it is scary.

Now I appreciate how strict my parents were with us with respect to not having a Super Nintendo until we were 18. Naturally, once we got to that age, we didn’t care for it so much. Mom and Dad, you rock with your tough love!

What is scary is that we are becoming less and less present by constantly having to text more, send more emails, update more through social media like facebook, twitter, blogs etc.

I am a culprit to this addiction as well, which is why I feel I can share my concern. I am zapping myself in all directions—writing articles, posting videos, updating my status, linking to sites, promoting events, texting clients, answering phone calls from telemarketers, writing emails, oh, and of course, don’t forget, teaching yoga and having a personal life.

By the time I get to my non-yoga personal life (although nothing is non-yoga for me), I’m pooped! My brain is fried from the screens I’ve been using all day and I get burnt.

Ironically, I am typing this article onto my computer and I will post it on Facebook when it gets published, so I will continue to get zapped for just a bit longer. I guess I justify it because it’s conscious zapping. Regardless, I feel that I get further from what yoga truly is when I am so technologically connected. I have made it my mission and path to realize my true Self as the yoga sutras suggest.

According to Book 1: Sutra 12, “These mental modifications are restrained by practice and nonattachment.” ~ Swami Satchidananda translation. Our mental modifications (vrittis in Sanskrit) are being zapped by Facebook, emails, texts and phone calls. Plus, they are making us more attached.

I had to put a sticker on my phone that says, “Stop” in order to remind me to put the damn phone down. It’s horrible. I think that every phone, every piece of technology (video game consoles, computers, etc.) should come with a tutorial on how to balance your life while using that gadget.

I’ve started a new approach, which includes putting my phone on airplane mode when I teach class and when I go to sleep. Of course, ideally I could have my phone on airplane mode all the time, but I don’t think that would be feasible. But as I tell my students, “Anything is possible.”

Maybe we could make a new national holiday called “TOT Day: Turn Off Technology Day” where everyone turns off their TVs, computers, cellphones, and is forced to go outside and play with each other. Adults and kids alike! Why can’t us adults play like the kids we used to be?  Because our life has become too serious and complicated.

The saddest part is that my two-year-old niece once took her toy cellphone and when I was talking to her she said to me, “Hold on, I’m on the phone,” turned her back to me and walked away. This is what we are teaching our children—to disconnect and to be worried! I say, no! I will not teach that to our children. I will instead teach by being an example first, and the only way to be the example myself is to look up from my cellphone more often, lift up my head and see the world that is playing harmoniously in front of me all the time.

What are you missing by texting while you are walking? Did you see the father hug his son? Did you hear the little girl laughing because she was being tickled? Did you notice the slobbering bulldog next to you? Or, are you being zapped too? The first step to becoming unzapped is to sit back in your chair, look up from reading this article and take a deep breath!



Now…close the computer!

“There’s never nothing going on.” ~ Dan Millman.


Editor: Brianna Bemel

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