If you stepped into my house for a day, you would hear the phrase, “No electronics, electronics off!,” at some point of almost every day. Having three boys, they love to get on the computer, the smartphone, the tablet, the X box, anything that can broadcast a video game or some kind of silly video.
If I didn’t set limits, they would play endlessly. They seem to be able to survive on only air when they are on their electronics. No one asks me for a snack or a drink, in fact, they don’t want to talk to me at all. Sounds like a peaceful, quiet house right? It is, until it’s not.
If they play too long, you can almost see their nervous systems getting burnt like overcooked popcorn. The gamut of unexpected emotions could become possible at any moment. They start to agitate easily, breakdown into tears, get mad at each other, etc… When we turn everything off, the kids want to eat, drink, talk, play outside, and all kinds of other healthy kids stuff.
It’s easy to see this pattern in kids. But have you started to notice that adults are the ones who need the shout out, “No electronics, electronics off!”? The other day, I went to watch a championship sporting event at a neighbor’s house. One of the guests stared into the oblivion of her phone the whole two hours of the party. She lifted her head every so often to join in a conversation, to cheer for a goal, or if her child needed something, but for the most part, she was plugged in.
I can’t judge because I have been there. The electronics addiction quietly sneaks up on you – checking emails at the park, scrolling the stories on Facebook, or watching scuba videos all day on You Tube. Here’s a check-in to see if it is time for a grown-up version of electronics restriction:
When was the last time you went to a park without your phone?
Do you check your emails/ texts while you drive?
Do you compulsively check your emails throughout the day?
Have you gone to concert where you spent the whole concert telling everyone on Facebook what a blast you are having? Maybe even watching the concert through your phone video?
How often do you update Facebook/Twitter/Instagram/Google+?
Do you spend hours looking up You Tube videos?
Do you jog/walk/exercise/bike ride while checking emails, the internet, or talking on the phone?
To paraphrase a section in the book, the Yoga Sutras, “happiness equals flow and flow comes from focus”. If you answered yes to any of the questions above, it might be time for an electronics break to get your focus back.
Luckily this is not hard to do – just don’t bring these devices with you everywhere you go. It’s all about creating limits for your time on your tablet, phone, or computer. You know how to do this – become aware of your own electronics habits and see where you need to cut back. For instance, when you are driving, just drive. Focus on one thing and give it all your attention.
Each time you draw yourself into the world of your electronics, you miss out on something around you. It could be meeting a new friend at a party or learning something new in a conversation you just avoided. It could be the smile of your child or the creative thought to play something together. It could be a leaf blowing in the wind or a dog playing in the grass.
We tell the kids they are missing out on life when they are in video game world, but we grown-ups are too. Let’s disconnect to connect. Life is all about connection!
Sarah Lesch is a mother of three, a yoga teacher at Bella Prana, and leads workshops across the bay. www.sarahleschyoga.com