“You can’t stop the waves, but you can learn to surf.” ~Jon Kabat-Zinn
For the past week, I’ve been immersed in a social media cleanse. I was inspired by so many dear clients and friends expressing an inner sense of stress and anxiety due to the distraction and perpetual social comparison that social media triggers. Sure, social media platforms are powerful in the domains of business growth, marketing and branding in modern day society…but what is the downside? Well, there’s an addictive quality that arises from being obsessed with this vortex of voyeurism, this land of “likes”. And without mindful awareness, boundaries and clear intentions, we can easily see our overall moods plummet. This cleanse was about non-judgmentally observing the thoughts, feelings and urges that unveiled themselves in the midst of this social media detox.
So what was life like without Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat? After my withdrawals subsided, I must say that some interesting insights emerged. Space provides wisdom. The distance I cultivated alongside many others during this cleanse provided valuable information as we forge forward in our hyper-connected, technology-driven world.
Joe Scanlan, Finance Manager at Lowers Risk Group and dear friend of mine who participated in the cleanse, astutely said, “I learned that it’s not good to be constantly engrossed in everyone else’s lives! Without that distraction, you have more time to concentrate on what matters and making improvements in your own life. And maybe if we couldn’t so easily connect with people electronically, we’d actually have better, real relationships with people that matter in our lives. It’s hard to find a balance!”
An attorney from Atlanta that joined the cleanse expressed, “I feel liberated. In fact, I made a personal pledge to extend my social media detox for another week.”
Cultivating balance takes a tremendous amount of intention. But in order to create that inner peace we seek in the midst of this era of scrolling, we must shine awareness on this relationship we have with social networking.
Here’s what I learned:
It’s amazing how much time we spend looking down at our screens. As we’re scrolling our feeds, our gaze is fixed downward, keeping our visual field small and constricted. Studies actually show that looking up towards the sky creates a mood boost. Our ancestors looked up towards the cosmos for wisdom about weather patterns, for signs of synchronicity and as a way of living. As we journey through our lives looking down, keeping our worlds small, we begin to feel small within our minds and bodies. Looking down prevents us from harnessing opportunities to be humbled by the expansive sky above. Taking a step back from social media helped me cultivate awareness about the profound power of gazing upon the clouds, sun, moon and stars – the miracles of living.
Distractions dumb down our brain power. Studies on how technology creates consistent distraction throughout the day show that it takes, on average, 25 minutes to return to an original task after a phone call. Pause and think about the dozens, perhaps hundreds, of times you’re checking social media each day. These interruptions are fragmenting your brain’s capacity for mindful, single-tasked focus. This past week, I felt less distracted on my breaks in-between clients, while I was having lunch and during times of transition (waiting in line at the grocery store, waiting for yoga class to begin and rousing in the morning). Yes, social networking is a powerful tool but it’s seriously preventing us from being present and focused in our here-and-now interactions and relationships. The million dollar question: So how do we stay balanced while using these outlets? The answer exists within your own internal capacities. Keep reading!
Space for Mindful Media-ing
It’s clear that the negative effects of social media are infused in daily life but the reality is that we live in a technology-driven world. So unless we’re living off the grid, this is our reality. Empowering ourselves to harness the capacity for presence is key. Mindful awareness about how we engage with social media can ease the unwanted effects that social media brings. The first full day of this cleanse, I instinctually clicked my Instagram app probably 10 times. This typically happened after I would check my email on my phone. It made me realize how engrained these platforms have become in the rhythms of daily living. This very mindlessness is what prevents us from living at our fullest expression of who it is we truly are. So I challenge you to create space for mindful media-ing in your life.
A Few Tips
- Limit your usage. Allow yourself a limited number of sessions on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and Snapchat a day. 3 sessions is reasonable. This is what I plan to do myself!
- PAUSE before getting on social and use a short mantra such as “I pledge that this session will serve my highest self in heart, words and mind.” How we interact with people via social is important. Words possess an energy and intention. What we put out there can create change. Pledge to radiate positivity and to expressing yourself with integrity.
- CLEANSE! Those who participated in this social media detox gained a tremendous amount of insight and wisdom from the distance they were able to create. This very space is our liberation, our emotional freedom. Commit to a social media cleanse every quarter – 1 week four times a year. Your brain will love you for it!
I’m incredibly grateful for those beautiful beings who joined me on this cleanse. Stay-tuned for more tips and ways to infuse mindfulness into daily living so you can live your own best life. For more on the transformative benefits of mindfulness and meditation, subscribe to my blog.
See you on The Path! Om Shanti!