Facebook, Twitter, blogs, email, e-newsletters, daily updates, tablets, laptops, iPhones, smartphones, texting, messaging, posting, updating, checking in. If you’re like me, trying to keep life relatively simple while at the same time maintain virtual relationships and an online presence, the amount of mental clutter, buzz, and constant information can become overwhelming. Hence, the theme of this week’s Monday meditation: unplugging.

 

We all know it’s good for us to check out and turn off our technology at times, but for many of us it’s also tempting to just check in on Facebook one last time before bed or while the kids are happily playing and don’t appear to need your immediate attention. And then minutes, or sometimes hours later you look up from the screen and…well, you get the picture.

 

The reality of life nowadays is that there are many distractions. People enjoy spending time online or plugged in, and there are people whose livelihood depends on it. For many, it has become extremely difficult to enjoy moments of quiet, of just being, without “checking in.” But truthfully we have a choice over when and how much time we spend being plugged in, or rather when and how much time we spend “unplugging”.

 

When I was in high school and went on holidays with my family, there was no email (remember those times?), no texting (pagers weren’t even around then…), and phone calls were certainly far too expensive to consider (especially if we were travelling internationally). When we went away as a family, we were gone, disconnected, and truly unplugged. We would arrive back home refreshed to a few phone messages on our answering machine (once we actually got one), and I looked forward to the first get-together with my girlfriends to get the scoop on all that had happened while I was away. There were usually some minor dramas to catch up on, but it gradually became apparent to me that life had just continued on as per usual. And here I was ready to jump back in.

 

 

I’m coming off a long weekend of being unplugged, of visiting with a close friend from out of town and her kids. And, although I didn’t go away, I’m reminded of that high school feeling of returning from a holiday. I feel refreshed, I’m looking forward to reconnecting with the online world. Sure, there may have been some minor (and major) dramas while I was offline, but I’m pretty sure that life has continued as per usual. Unplugging on a regular basis is both a positive and vital experience for me.

 

This week, I encourage you to explore your thoughts or feelings about being unplugged. Does it cause you anxiety to be offline? Are you constantly checking social media, your phone or your email? What would happen if you didn’t?

 

And if you do “power down” this week, I hope you enjoy your time to the fullest.

 

 

This week, instead of meditating on a theme, phrase or idea, we’re going to turn our attention to our breathing.

 

It may sound simple, but it’s amazing how much mental clutter surfaces when our focus is purely on the breath.

 

 

Here are a few tips for the Breathing Meditation:

 

  • Decide how long you’ll be meditating for and set a timer.
  • Find a comfortable seated position (or lie down on your back), close your eyes and become aware of your breathing. Don’t try to control the breath, just notice the rhythm of inhalations and exhalations.
  • As you breathe in and out, observe any thoughts that come through your mind. Try not to let yourself attach any weight to these thoughts. Imagine they are like clouds passing through the sky, and refocus on your breathing.

 

As you practice the breathing meditation, notice any patterns that come up in your practice. Is there a point in the meditation where you seem to get distracted or find it a challenge to continue? Do you get agitated or uncomfortable part-way through your allotted time? Are you tempted to finish the meditation earlier than planned because your mind has filled with to-do lists for the day ahead? It is often at the most challenging times during our meditations that we need to be gentle with ourselves, remind ourselves to simply be present, and bring our attention back to the constant and steady rhythm of our breathing.

 

May your week be as calm and steady as your breath.

 

Want to know more about the breath? Read What’s the Big Deal About Breathing?