For most of us, technology has increasingly become an important part of our lives. We turn to our phones, tablets, computers and other gadgets throughout the day for various reasons, whether it’s to connect with friends and family, help us answer questions, manage our schedules or provide entertainment or distraction. Often, we’re dependent on them, making it difficult to fully disconnect. “They make us feel like we’re in control of all the things we’re responsible for,” says Julie Haber, M.Div, director of spirituality at Canyon Ranch in Tucson. “But if you don’t take the time to connect with you, away from the technology that constantly keeps you plugged in, you’ll start to become estranged from yourself. You may forget what it feels like to truly relax, or what real silence is—and silence is a vital element in a thriving spiritual life. It helps us hear the ‘still small voice’ inside.”
While it may seem hard to unplug completely, it is possible—even for just a little while. Try this technique to help you find a balance between being connected externally and internally:
Taking some time for yourself doesn’t mean altering your whole schedule. You can benefit from “unplugging”—putting your devices away—for as few as five minutes. “It’s really up to you,” says Haber. “Start small and see where it goes. You may find you need a half hour, or even an hour. If you find that you are feeling anxious after just a half hour of turning your device off, you may be addicted to it.”
Find a Quiet Spot
Choose a place, indoors or outdoors, that’s free of distraction and noise. Whether it’s your yard, balcony or bathtub, it should be a place without technology, busy calendars, piles of bills, screaming children or anything else that could demand your attention. You can even create a designated space, like a meditation chair, where it’s understood that no one will bother you. Light a candle or dim the lights, if it helps you relax.
Be aware of your breath. Mindful breathing can help you stay in the present moment and release any thoughts that don’t serve you. This is a great practice that engenders the calm, balanced feeling we’re aiming for when we unplug.
Focus on You
Freeing yourself from distractions allows you to really check in with yourself and observe how you’re feeling physically and emotionally. “Because we’re always tuned in to emails, text messages, calendars and more, most of us don’t take the time to turn our attention inward and think about what we really need,” says Haber. “Sometimes watching a TV show or playing a game on our phone prevents us from considering those needs. Connecting with ourselves helps us reflect, let go of worry and focus on what’s important.”