Constant Distraction is Destroying Our Lives + Our Planet
Apple recently added a new feature into iPhone settings called Screen Time, where you can track the time you spend on your phone by category, app, time of day, and most horrifyingly, hourly and daily average number of pickups. A pick up is defined as any time you unlock your phone, whether you look at it for 10 seconds or 10 minutes.
And even if its only for a few seconds, every time we pick up our phones we begin to spread our awareness thin and the lose the attention towards whatever is happening around us.
We’ve all been in a situation, maybe even daily, where we’re working on a project while also periodically checking our phone, refreshing our email, talking to a friend sitting next to us and listening to Spotify with one earbud.
Sometimes in those moments, this multitasking, this spreading of our awareness can feel productive, but afterwards we realize that because we lacked focus, we got nothing done at all.
In the focus of the month, David Life, the co-founder of Jivamukti Yoga, describes a future world at the cusp of the 24th century where everything, is in his words, falling apart.
All of the major cities, New York, London, Paris, are underwater and the ocean is filled to the brim with trash. And he says that all of this happened just because we stopped paying attention.
Buddhists speak of the “the fundamental anxiety of being human”. It is a sense of queasiness, dis-comfort or fear that afflicts all of us. It’s our natural response to the reality of constant change. Impermance. Our inability to control what happens next.
Constantly distracting ourselves gives us a sense of relief.
But falling back on it is like sitting in bed worrying that there is a monster underneath instead of just turning on the lights and checking, staying in bed and trying to distract yourself with a book or your phone. Even though you’re not focusing on it, the underlying anxiety and fear is still there.
The yoga asana practice invites us to practice reigning in our awareness and focusing our attention.
We check in with ourselves every so often and notice if our mind is wandering and thinking about what we’re going to have for dinner after this or our meeting tomorrow morning and we bring it back to:
Is my quad engaged?
Where are my buttock bones doing?
Am I breathing deep steady Ujjayi ?
We train our attention to stay with what we’re experiencing and we take this skill with us off the mat.