July 18, 2016

How an Old-School Alarm Clock Changed My Life.

phone in bed

Before I knew it, my most intimate relationship was with my iPhone 6.

We went everywhere together. We’d say goodnight, and greet the new day in the morning. It played music for me while I got dressed, helped me navigate where to go, and connected me to my social network. It was kinda like my best friend and emotional companion all in one.

Even with a dear boyfriend in my life, my iPhone still had the deepest insight into my being.

The moment I realized all of this, I became physically uncomfortable. My emotional and somatic attachment to this physical object was nonstop.

What if this was actually getting in the way of growing in my relationships to people? What if, in some small metaphysical sense, my iPhone being my primary partner was clogging the flow with my actual partner? Am I in a codependent relationship with an impermanent object?

The Buddhist in me freaked out.

Even from a physical perspective, it’s not healthy. Smartphones are constantly emitting EMFs, or Electro-Magnetic Frequencies. The SAR, or Specific Absorption Rate, of EMFs from the latest smartphones on the market is just a smidgen below the safe, legal limit of 1.60 watts per kilogram.

“The SAR is a measure of the maximum amount of microwave radiation absorbed by the head or the body. It is measured in a laboratory using an artificial model of a large adult male with different fluids to simulate human tissue. The SAR, which is measured in watts per kilogram, represents the maximum amount of energy absorbed in any one gram of tissue in the test model. Phones sold in the U.S. typically range in SAR values from about 0.20 up to the 1.60 legal limit.” [1]

During a phone call, the iPhone 6 emits 1.18 watts per kilogram into your head—your head, as in the place where your brain lives. When all the transmitters are on (cellular, WiFi and Bluetooth), the phone emits 1.59 watts per kilogram. The safe, legal limit is 1.60. This means that if you sleep with your phone near you in anything but airplane mode, the radiation is being cooked into your cells, potentially mutating their growth.

Electricity changes the constitution of physical things.

Once I became aware of this information, I dug through my boxes of random things—you know, those boxes you have full of trinkets, batteries, old gifts, things you hold onto for maybe-one-day reasons—and found my old school alarm clock. I’d had this baby since the 8th grade. It had two buttons for minutes and hours, one large snooze/light button and four settings. Simple. I found some batteries and reintroduced this archaic technology into my life.

Since then, I’ve been putting my phone (on airplane mode) into a basket on the opposite side of my room before going to bed. I don’t touch it until after I’ve made my bed, done my morning hygiene routine, made hot water with lemon, tidied up my space and pulled my meditation cushion into the center of the room. Only then, after at least 30 minutes of tuning into my needs, do I reach for my iPhone and turn it off airplane mode. Then I set a timer and sit in stillness for at least 10 minutes.

The results in my life have been shockingly noticeable.

Firstly, I am way less frustrated and angsty. I no longer wake up with concern that I am behind the rest of the world. I no longer spend my days in fight or flight, in worry, in a rush, in comparison. I trust my own intuition most and am quicker at making decisions.

I find that instead of checking my bank balance and social networks before going to sleep, I am now spending time asking my body what it needs before I put it to work again the next day. Do I need to lie with my legs up the wall? Have I even taken a full deep belly breath all day? How’s my heart? Do I need to cry for no special reason? Do I need to breathe into all my chakras to clear them from all they’ve accumulated?

Often, in this special place, I find myself coming to a resting smile instead of a furrowed brow.

I find myself in deep appreciation of my life, lying on my back, baring my belly to the world, instead of huddling in fetal position to hide myself from all of it. My body, heart and mind are actually coming to rest.

In the morning, I have less electricity in my headspace. My mind is as still and quiet as the sunrise. Thoughts arise softly and timidly, instead of clamoring for my attention. Overall, I have more peace and a bigger heart. I no longer suffer from a scarcity of energy; I can give another person my full attention and compassion without worrying that there is something else I should be doing.

After all, there is no race, and there is no fire. Plugging in can often mean checking out of the physical earth and forgetting the human body.

The electronic experience can take us far out and tickle our imagination, but I’ve never found more reward and peace than in the depths of accepting that I am human.



  1. Moskowitz, Joel M., Ph. D. “IPhone 6 SAR: Radiation Levels & Separation Distance.” Electromagnetic Radiation Safety. N.p., 29 Sept. 2015. Web.


Author: Katerina Kan

Image: m01229/Flickr

Apprentice Editor: Devin Mudcat Kelly; Editor: Toby Israel


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