Together Alone?

Not too long ago, we were at a family gathering with relatives we hadn't seen for awhile. I was

so excited to see everyone; it had been way too long! We sat down to a simple dinner, and folks started sharing stories. But to my dismay, the cell phones came out at the table, and the sharing became digital! I looked at my 85 year old aunt (she and I were the only ones without phones) and said really loudly, "we're here all alone!" No one even noticed! It was just like this video!

Since then, I have gotten my first cell phone. When I told a friend about this, he was sad that one of the last holdouts had bitten the dust. I think he knew what would happen to me! Now I am in fact, one more person under it's powerful spell. My attention has gotten split too often and I have begun to feel somewhat addicted.

I have decided to take control, and I offer some ideas for you too.

1. Create sacred space for connection and conversation. Create a digital free zone in the kitchen, dining room, and car or wherever you choose. In this zone there is no emailing, cell phoning, texting, web surfing, only: talking with each other, or connecting with the physical world by doing real things like driving, eating, chopping vegetables or washing up!

2. When talking on your cell phone, just talk on your phone...nothing else. People think they are "multi-tasking" but they really are not. They are just shifting from one activity to another at high speed, and quality of attention to each task suffers. And it's stressful.

3. Stop interrupting yourself all the time! There is such a simple solution: muting your phone and computer so you don't hear the signal of e-mails, texts or calls coming in. See how much more spacious and in control you feel.

5. Shut down all devices at least 30 minutes before going to bed to give your nervous system time to settle down into natural rhythms before sleep. Some experts suggest no screen time 3 hours before bedtime!

6. Cultivate solitude. Carve out time for it. Journal, doodle, dance, meditate, daydream. Rediscover the value of self-reflection and self-awareness that enlivens your interactions with others when you re-engage. Life will be richer, more dimensional, and happier.

7. Regularly go out without your phone and notice how it feels. Notice the impulse to check it. What is that desire all about? Are you lonely without it? Does it feels scary to be out of touch? Inquire within..."What is so important that it can't wait till I get to it on my terms?"

8. Don't give your phone too much centralized power. Use your alarm clock to wake you, go outside to see what the temperature is, read the paper! Keep your hands and senses alive!

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