Breathe Mindfulness Paying Attention

Dancing gracefully with my electrical lifeline.

October 17, 2017

There is something magical about dancing with another human being. I’ve had a few beautiful personal experiences. I have witnessed even more that were not my own, but incredibly moving. In fact, I still remember a YouTube video I saw years ago of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. The creator melted several of their famous dances into one, long, dreamy dance to the song “Time of My Life” from the movie Dirty Dancing. It moves me every time. The synchronicity, the emotion, the beautiful give and take. A stunning display of grace.

Fred and Ginger Dancing 

This may not be the greatest transition, but I would like to take you from this sensual experience of dancing – human to human and introduce you to a different kind of dance. One between a human and her electrical lifeline. This is what I call my cell phone. And yes, my cell phone and I have been trying to find a way to dance gracefully for years.

My little 5.5-inch x 2.75-inch piece of metal has been an unsensual, uncontrolled, and completely disconnected dance partner. If you need an image here it is worth another YouTube search to see Elaine’s famous dance from the Seinfeld show. Elaine’s dance is a wonderful depiction of exactly how me and my electrical lifeline whipped sharply across the dance floor of my life. In stature I towered over my partner, however, this little piece of metal controlled my every movement. It pulled me around and around. A very different motion than being lead or even following. Sadly, there was no rhythm, no sync, and certainly not the effortless floating on air quality displayed by Fred and Ginger.

At 6 am it started when I was swept into the arms of my partner in order to silence the alarm signaling the start of this now familiar dance. Snuggled in the warmth of my flannel sheets and trying to hang on to my dreamy state I spooned with my lover in the dim glow of the rising sun. We began to move together. Text…Email….Facebook…News… I allowed my eyes to adjust and would suddenly realize the light is not from the sun.  In fact, the bluish glow was coming from the face of my digital partner… and so we would begin to jerk violently from one step to another. Checking Texts. Sifting through Emails. A quick swing into the steps of Facebook to see what the beautiful people did while we were sleeping. Then spinning into a world of News that filled me with anxiety. Each day the song and dance would end with the view of my calendar. Suddenly, I found myself scrambling from the dance floor and out of bed. Leaving my partner cold and alone. What the flip? I lost sixty minutes of my life in this vortex of a dance. I rush to get ready for the day.

Now pissed, my electrical lifeline pulled me back to the floor as we spun out the front door trying to simultaneously initiate movement of Waze to guide us and Spodify to dull the pain of the next forty-five minutes we would spend in traffic getting to our next destination. As we spun across the landscape, there were sudden stops where I was lured by my partner to just check in for a quickie; Text…Email….Facebook…News…. The sound of conflicting music behind me. The familiar sound of a horn calling me out to the world – “she is on her phone!”. Caught in the act and humiliated, I would throw my dance partner to the floor and continue my dance alone. Feeling madly out of control. Flustered.

I am barely settled down in my meeting and I feel my partners need to be seen. I slide this electrical lifeline out for a secret dance (ummm, yes…under the table). “Just a few seconds” I would tell myself as I moved swiftly through my practiced moves; Text…Email…Facebook…News…. Frustrated by the lack of love, (what? no likes? no texts?), I let go of it’s hand, sliding it back into my pocket.

Gathering with friends we all found excuses to invite our electrical lifelines to the dance floor and shake our batteries together.  
“Check out these pictures of my dog…”
“Let me read you this text from him…”
“I have to put that {anything} in my notes…”
“This looks delicious; I must take a picture for my Instagram….”  
“Sorry, I have to text my {fill in blank}. It’ll just take me a minute.” 
Text…Email…Facebook…News…. 
Text…Email…Facebook…News….

Exhausting. I’m exhausted. I am worn out from this little piece of metal.

Does this sound familiar at all?

Good. I hope it does because that means there is so much potential for a beautiful dance in your future.

The Mindful Technology Challenge was recently extended to me through the Elephant Journal Apprentice program I started a month ago. I was enticed from the start as it spoke to both my emotional and my logical mind. The challenger confirmed that technology does have a place in our lives (phew!) and extended the invitation to us to use it mindfully instead of allowing it to control us (ouch!). For the first time I thought, “I have unknowingly allowed myself to be controlled by my phone.” Text…Email…Facebook…News…. Oh my!

I accepted the challenge. The last month has been about discovering that sweet dance, the balance between the necessity of technology and my own health. I now know and understand that a complimentary exchange of energy is possible with just a little sprinkle of mindfulness.

If you wish to adjust your attitude around technology and how you react to it, the most crucial step is to make it mindful. When you do I promise you that you too can begin to change this necessary dance between you and the technology in your life to one where you float instead of whip across life’s dance floor.

Here are five new rules I introduced a month ago for dancing with my electrical lifeline. These have changed the way I move throughout my day, and my life.

1. Give it a rest. Keep your phone at least seven (7!) feet away from you when you sleep. I now charge my phone in my kitchen which is the room furthest away from my bedroom.  
2. Do not invite it to bed. There is no room in your sacred space for metal. If you use it to read books, do so in a different room.
3. Airplane Mode This, I now understand, is the secret to a sexy dance with life. I put the phone on Airplane Mode whenever I am doing something, anything, that I wish to do without interruption. 
4. Explore nature without it. We all need space in nature, it is essential to feeling connected with the world around us. Trust me, you can take pictures with your minds eye instead of having to capture it with a Selfie. Plus, you will remember it longer and you will not be contributing to the ether garbage dump!
5. Resist the urge. Walk if you are walking. Drive if you are driving. Dance if you are dancing. Use your phone when you are using your phone. During those moments, pull over, step off the path, and take a moment and focus 100% on your electrical lifeline. No more multi-tasking.

I now wake at 6am to the beat of my own heart. I whisk myself to my yoga mat and just sit in meditation for 15 minutes. I spin lightly to my kitchen and make a smoothie. I rest and write until I have filled two pages. Then, and only then, do I pour a cup of coffee, lift my electrical lifeline with my right hand, slide Airplane Mode to the left, and take a breath as I connect and begin to gracefully dance with the world.

I am sure you have heard the quote from Charles R. Swindoll, “Life is 10% what happens and 90% how we react to it.”. What we rarely hear is the line before this when Charles says “The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude…” and then he goes on to share his famous “I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it. And so it is with you… we are in charge of our attitude.” The attitude we are looking for in this dance is the atmosphere of mindfulness. Give yourself that space.

Ok, enough. Spit, Spot and get dancing!

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