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Tao of Mal: Unplugged

As my wife, mother and countless others have pointed out to me, I have an unhealthy relationship with my phone, meaning I can never put it down and that includes while I am talking to others, yes unfortunately I have become one of “those people”.  When I thought about it further, I wondered how the constant stream of information, most of it meaningless dribble was effecting my brain.  What am I not doing while I am always hooked on the phone or computer?  Does this coincide well with meditation and mindfulness? I’m guessing I have not found a happy medium.  The following is what happened when I started to disconnect.

I was laying in bed just contemplating life in general.  The harsh winter was slowly giving way to the spring air.  I was thinking about the usual; career, finances and my housing.  I thought about a time when I did not worry as much.  There was a tightening of my stomach when I realized that life used to flow so much easier in certain ways for me.  What I needed always seemed to show up at the right time.  Not so much anymore. If I’m being honest with myself, my meditation practice hasn’t really been anything special either lately. Thoughts of where did I get off track began to fill my head.  I couldn’t really come up with anything.  Then I watched a montage of Russell Brand clips.  Wow, I never knew he was so into spirituality was my first thought.  Then as I looked in the palm of my hand at the phone I had watched the montage on, I realized that is what is different about me, I’m always on the damn internet!! I decided right then and there that I was going to make a change.  Yes, I looked at the man in the mirror.

Experience has taught me that extreme shifts never work for me, I am more of a moderation guy.  So I wasn’t going to cut out internet completely.  This was the deal I made with myself: I would check the internet once a day at lunch.  There I could go nuts and look up as much as I wanted for that one hour.  I would still check and respond to emails and blog.  Other than that, no internet. At first it was hard, I felt myself shaking like a fiend for my phone.  Then one morning I woke up and just went about my business.  I noticed without checking sports scores and stories, twitter, facebook and the news, my mind was much more clear and I had a better meditation session. I also realized how much earlier I was ready to leave.  So with a clear mind and extra time on my hand I had a lovely no traffic drive into work.  Now starting to enjoy this new way of life I had a productive day at work.  The hour during lunch when I check the internet turned into only 20 minutes.  I couldn’t believe it, but the world was still standing without me checking in every 5 minutes!

Just as I had some nice positive momentum going, one of my students who was having a bad day, was very being very disruptive in my class and we ended up having a bit of an exchange.  As I went home feeling the stress in my body, I decided to do some simple conscious breathing exercises and throw on some tunes.  I listened to Jimi Hendrix Blues album from start to finish.  I started to feel very relaxed and had 2 thoughts.  First was, man when was the last time I just sat or laid down and listened to a full album?  I mean with no distractions, not checking anything.  Second, which was a bit more scary was the fact that even though in my mind I am this “meditation guy”, Am I processing feelings and emotions after a long day by drowning my sorrows online?  How unhealthy must that be? Am I even properly dealing with my emotions and stress or I am burying it, distracting myself through the internet. Whatever the answer was, today was definitely an eye opener. Over the course of the next couple of days I was excited about my experiment.

All sorts of things were beginning to happen.  I was spending more meaningful time and having good conversations with my family where I was really present.  I had more time to exercise and diet.  I was actually losing weight and eating healthy.  Instead of reading mind numbing online articles, I actually started reading books again!  Once the positive momentum gets started, it could lead to anything!! When I did things like watch tv, I would practice mindfulness.  In fact my ability to focus on the now and the space around objects was growing in leaps and bounds.  Most of all, I felt a sense of joy, excitement and even magic in my life that I had not experienced in some time. Then the unexpected happen. I had applied earlier to an agency that help me find a job teaching internationally.  The agency had told me that due to the fact I had applied late and had a wife and kid that I was probably not a good candidate despite my teaching expertise.  Six weeks into being unplugged I got an email from a school In  Rabat Morocco.  6 weeks later my family and I found ourselves living in a house over looking the beach in Morocc and the next journey had begun.  What role did unplugging have on this?  I would like to believe the positive energy, momentum and good feeling I got from this experiment played a part in propelling me to bigger things.  You get back what you put out?

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