Every Wednesday morning I start my day by teaching 2 yoga classes before the sun even rises. While there are other days during the week in which I rise before 5am, Wednesdays are by far my favorite (Sorry Monday and Thursday crew!) There is something wonderful about starting your day with your yoga practice. A chance to enter the day with a clear mind and clear body.
This morning as I drove in, the rain softly showered the world around me. It felt like a calm, slow morning, so I chose a yoga class that would gently energize the group. Opening into backbends, opening our chests, and opening our hearts. After each class, I felt more clear and more ready for the day.
It helped me to finally clear my head enough to write down what I've been thinking for the past couple of weeks. After completing my last 21-day cleanse, I discovered that it was not just the way I eat that needed to be cleansed. I found that when I really looked at the way I live my days, hours, etc that there were many opportunities for toxic behaviors, images, or thoughts to creep into my life.
The largest offender of toxic thoughts, often leading to envy, comparison, frustration, "boredom" and the like? My stupid, stupid "smart" phone. We all know this, this is not breaking news, but the iPhone is creeping into our lives, ruining our ability to connect to people in the same room as us. It is interfering with our ability to be with our own thoughts. It is warping us to live our lives in a way that we can document through social media. If we don't post it to the world, did it really happen?!
I remember in the years before I had a cell phone (I got mine at 17 with no texting plans) I would be okay with waiting in waiting rooms. I was content on long drives. I wouldn't read books, but I would simply day dream. I would talk with my mom, my friends, whomever I was with. I was fine with listening to music and really listening to the music. As an introvert, being quiet or being in situations without a lot of stimulation is not boring. There were moments of clarity. There were moments of inspiration. There were moments when I really got to know myself.
That was until the smart phone. Now it's too easy to pick up my phone and "scroll." Scrolling is now an activity. Commenting on pointless content is now a sport. Posting the perfect picture of yourself is now a "thing." I'm an active participant in this toxic behavior and I know it must stop. My husband and I do not get as much "free" time to just be with each other as other couples without kids do. Yet there are nights when we are both home, in the same room, with the TV on and the phones in front of our faces. I find this terrifying. And what's worse, its a really hard habit to break.
Beyond it just being anti-social, we open ourselves up to all sorts of emotions we may not even encounter on a regular day basis. We open up to envy--wanting what others have or seem to have. We open ourselves up to comparison--deciding that what we do, what we have, who we are is in some way less than. We bombard our minds with images, over and over again, without processing, or even thinking through what we see. Worse, we aren't even deciding what we see--we see it all.
I don't want to be one of those people who say, "well, back when I was a kid,"or "things were so much better when," because I think that takes away my own responsibility for my actions. But I will acknowledge that some of life's advances aren't necessarily good for me. In order to be my best self, I don't need all the first-world modern conveniences, including the constant attachment to my phone.
Of course, the list goes on. For instance, just because you can buy already made chicken soup, doesn't mean you should always buy it, right? How much better does it taste when you make it from scratch? When you commit to something, focus on it, and make it yourself. The sensation of comfort you get from smelling fresh rosemary. The squirmish feeling you get from handling raw chicken, the physical reminder that this was once alive, so do not waste it. The feeling of the steam on your face as you stir the soup. It's all important. It makes you mindful of what you're doing, where you are, and the time it takes to make something worth having.
Imagine all the time you would have to notice the beauty in each day if you didn't spend the 10 min in the morning scrolling Pinterest. The 10 min waiting for the train scrolling Instagram, or the 30min after you eat lunch diving deep into a high school classmate's wedding photos. Before you know it, more than an hour of your day--of your thoughts--is spent mindlessly scrolling. Literally doing nothing, but scrolling.
So, I'm getting the toxins out. I'm vowing to put my phone away when I get home. It's going to go in a "cell phone" jar and it's going to stay there, only to leave when someone texts or calls. Even then, if it's not important, it can wait until tomorrow. We can take our lives back, take our time back, and put the distractions away. They say it takes 21 one days to create a new habit.
Here it goes.