Disconnect to Reconnect

Disconnect to Reconnect

Jordyn, Zac, and I traveled to Maine last week. I’d never been to Maine before. We chose Acadia National Park and Portland primarily to spend some time in nature and welcome Zac back into our house for the summer. (Already in seventh grade. Wow.)

One week vacation.

Is it just me, or is the week before taking time off somewhat… different? I tend to get slightly busier than other weeks. Trying to schedule in every meeting possible, get projects completed, and working double time to “get ready” to take time off. Like an inverse Parkinson’s Law, fitting two weeks of outcomes into one calendar week.

The first few days felt kind of relaxing. Here we are, surrounded by unsullied nature and the most gorgeous weather I’ve felt in quite some time. Yet, something felt off. I found myself getting frustrated and snappy easily. A deep desire to lay on a couch and check out. Or, impatience to get onto the next thing we had planned to do.

All because I made one critical error: I didn’t turn off my phone.

There’s a certain gravity to it that pulls me in. As if not a single moment of presence or boredom is tolerable, thus an automatic, unconscious reaction to pull out the iPhone. A quick check of email. What’s new on Twitter? Bitcoin prices down again. Another mass shooting. All of this kept me tethered to the digital world—even with endless beauty and my most important humans around me.

All of this became clear while on a boat touring the islands off the coast of Portland. After a morning of living in my head, I made the decision to turn off my phone in the moment. I meditated to calm and refresh my mind. Then I decided to leave it off for the rest of the trip.

Within a few short minutes, I felt relaxed and completely present. The shift was palpable and sudden. I woke up to the beauty around me, more engaged and playful in my interactions, and generally much happier.

What’s really going on here? Is there something unique about device use that removes us from the present? Is it more about the quality of the inputs (aka, the digital equivalent of unhealthy foods)? Is there something about digital information that particularly produces cascading undesirable thought patterns? Or something else?

So today, I invite you to join me in reflecting on our own device use by leaving your phone and computer behind. Pick some activity to do. Set the device down. Then go for it.

Take a walk. Drive to the store. Have lunch. Draw a picture. Go workout. Anything is fair game.

Then, I invite you to answer these questions and see what arises.

  • What thoughts or feelings arose while away from my devices?
  • What was I not able to do or feel, because of separation from my devices?
  • What was I newly able to do or feel, because of separation from my devices?
  • What is my current relationship to my devices?
  • What change do I want to make in the relationship to my devices?
  • What’s one action I can take to implement this change?
  • When will I execute this action?

I’ve chosen to uninstall email from my phone. I’ve experimented with this before in the past, but now feel I’m entering a season where it’s especially important.

What will you choose?

P.S. A big shoutout to Jordyn for making this trip a success for all three of us. 🙂

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