On our recent journey back to the Bay Area from our holiday vacation, I made a sad discovery. It was an incredibly early flight- the kind in which you find yourself continually fantasizing about being in your warm bed instead. But rather than being cozy, sleepy, dreamy and present in these wee hours, I noticed that probably more that 70% of our fellow airplane travelers were looking at the screen of their smart phones, tablets, computers etc. And then I thought about it. This not only happens in airports and airplanes but everywhere I go! How many people at any given time and place are plugged into their iphones, ipads, kindles and laptops? The gym, the grocery store- it’s everywhere! It’s the way our culture is now, especially in Oakland and Berkeley.
I am aware that we need to engage with all these things in order to smoothly operate in society. It’s an easy and convenient way to communicate with work colleagues and loved ones alike. But for too many of us, technology becomes an incredible time-suck- an alienation from the ‘real’ world and real people. It’s an easy way to dissociate from our life, a perfect way to kill time rather than live time, a fake way to feel connected, and the best way to bypass our essential and precious human solitude.
I understand the irony, given that you are probably reading this on your computer. Here I am writing a blog, sending emails for hours on end, and wanting as many likes as possible on my Facebook page. And yet, I am one of those people that resists technology ’till the very end, (if you could see my prehistoric phone you would know what mean!) I have always resented having to be plugged in all the time which is one of the main reasons why my chosen profession is healing bodywork. This work keeps me present, tuned in to myself and others and makes me feel like my healing touch is making a positive impact.
To my own relief, I recently I learned that in 2009 the Unplugging Movement was born in San Francisco. No wonder I live here- sign me up! Well, actually, I have been one of them all along! The movement began with families wanting to deliberately stay away from social media and technological devices to slow down their lives thereby having more time for creativity, time to be out doors, cook meals with friends, play with the kids and connect with actual human beings. To this list I personally have to add: going to yoga class, and of course, regular therapeutic massage. Being touched is a wonderful way to be present. (And touch screens don’t count!)
In other words, what the unpluggers are trying to do is reclaim their lives, from cyberspace back to planet Earth and back to their hearts and bodies. I invite you to dedicate some time this week to consciously creating an unplugging ritual. Take some deliberate time away from email, Facebook, your phone, your online calendar and your twitter account. Stop texting, stop posting and start breathing, stretching and singing. Come back from the cyber-universe, from being crouched over your computer and gone, to your own embodied, breath-full, pulsing, loving self. Trust me, your body will thank you!