The Power of Slow

Embracing time so you have more of it

Understanding Digital Addiction

The art of being present is in danger.

Escape is something we all do with our minds from time to time. Whether it's watching a movie or play, listening to a great concert or your favorite music, it can be very relaxing to take our minds off the day-to-day grind to lift our spirits heavenward.

Then there are those levels of escape that are unhealthy, always worrying about the future, spending more time thinking about the people you are not with than the people right in front of you, dwelling on events that 'might occur' if you take your attention away from them even for a moment. It can be exhausting to be somewhere you are not, living into a future that may or may not come.

The Internet has fostered our virtual selves in ways we are only beginning to understand.

According to the mental health encyclopedia, Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders,  Internet-use disorder will be listed as a condition “recommended for further study” in its forthcoming May 2013 edition.

A great friend of mine suggested that smartphones are the tether that pull us into a future that may not be healthy for us. Subconsciously, we are waiting for that message/post/feedback that will make our world alright again. It becomes a dependency, a reactive state that leaves us ultimately dissatisfied. We become dependent on that feedback, as if we will disappear if we don't get it.

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So we dare not be where we are with our attention fully applied to our current surroundings for fear we might miss something 'on the outside' in the cyberethers that would still our longing for that subtle something we are certain we are missing.

But such absence of mind only expands that dark hole we are so desparately trying to fill. No amount of emails, voice messages, phone calls or texts will keep us in an abundant state of awareness. Only the presence of mind, only the courage to Be. Here. Now. will unleash us from our digital addiction.

Try this. Switch off your phone for an hour in the middle of the day. Practice being present without the urge to check your phone or email messages on your computer. Light a candle and practice inhaling and exhaling on the count of five. Look at your surroundings and name the things you see such as "I see a book. I see a picture. I see the trees outside." It will help place your awareness back in real time, in the present, and in the space you are meant to be, which is where you are, and not where you think you should be.

Christine Louise Hohlbaum is the author of The Power of Slow: 101 Ways to Save Time in Our 24/7 World.

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