The price of anything is the amount of life you exchange for it.
Henry David Thoreau
I asked my phone provider today if they could provide me with a phone that doesn't connect to the internet, the line went quiet for a while, I wondered if they were still there (maybe they had put me on mute to have a good laugh), anyway long story short, the answer was no, I actually don't think they understood me as they continued to provide me with upgrade options to the next iPhone or whatever.
Now, I just want to set something straight, I love technology. It has transformed so many things for the better, made life that bit easier but I have also noticed something else over the last decade, it has slowly encroached every single area of our lives to the point that we simply cannot find a moment's stillness without wanting to be distracted.
I remember in the first lockdown seeing this in action in all the queues outside shops, nobody talking, many with their heads in the phone.
My question is "what are we missing?"
Switch off Sundays
At what point does technology start to control us? These little moments of awareness mentioned here got me to thinking about my own use of technology over the last few years. It dawned on me that for the last decade I have been switched on pretty much all of the time (apart from a few enforced switch off devices at events and retreats etc). The phone, next constantly like a beeping, flashing little companion. The checking of social media on autopilot, constant information consumption, so and so forth. Just bringing this to the light of day and awareness, got me to thinking, how mindful am I being with my use of technology and devices? not very I have to say, which led me to experiment with the Switch of Sundays.
One day a week, dedicated to switching off, no emails, no social media, phone off. I cannot deny that the first few times felt like somebody had cut my right arm off. I remember going out for a drive and a walk with George without my phone, it was so alien, thoughts going through my mind "what if we breakdown? what if we have an emergency".
Of course, none of this did happen but something else did and that was connection. Connection to nature, the sounds, the smells, the taste, the sights, senses coming alive without any distraction, it was quite blissful not thinking, oh I better take a picture of that or what can I share here.
Thus, the Switch off Sundays have been born, a permanent fixture, something that I now cherish and look forward to, rest, rejuvenation, and relaxation.
I have started drawing again, even got the old keyboard out of the cupboard to start playing again. Slowly taking back that control, me controlling technology not the other way around and it is refreshing. It has flown into other days too, the phone doesn't go in the bedroom at night and gets turned off, I try to limit screen time at night.
I have moved Alder Tree onto a different social media platform called MeWe, one that doesn't pull you into the social media vortex, no ads, no BS, no algorithm dark magic.
The Slow Movement
There is a pathway here that I point towards. If you feel like technology is taking over, then it is worth an explore. If you are happy with it then crack on, I am happy for you, this won't be for everyone. I know for myself, that I need downtime, need to switch off in order to recharge, others may recharge by switching on.
It is a reminder that the practice of awareness can allow us to see another route, a more scenic option, a trip off the motorway of life now and again, and onto those meandering back lanes. A chance to see the scenery, to wind the window down, and smell the fresh air. A route that allows you to pause at life's junctions and to be curious about which way to go without being overwhelmed. A route that allows you to know when it is time to pull over and rest. A route that allows you to join the motorway again if you have to, but to know you can come off at any time, back onto the meandering lanes whin it serves no purpose to be charging ahead on the motorway. A route that above all, doesn't focus on the destination but on the journey itself.
The slow movement, one that returns you home, back to your essential, authentic, wonderful self.
There is a reason I started this business. It was a reminder I had that life is fleeting, I had a wake-up call, a kick up the bum that I needed to change, to wake up and it is why I do this, why I am passionate about sharing that.
What if we got to the end and desperately wanted to claw our life back that had been lost on autopilot, or we got to the end and wondered where it had all gone.
It is for this deep sense and embracing of time passing, the wisdom of impermanence that I carve this intentional relationship with technology, using certain tools and not others, and switching off when I need to.
If you would like to join me, please feel free. We can meet metaphorically under the trees, staring at the sky, watch the clouds float by, experiencing life beyond the tech for a while oh and we could leave our mobile phones at home.
Explore, go gently on this journey my friends, until next time, be well!