After what had been a stressful two weeks I decided it was time to take action and take a break. I had been suffering from a constant headache which at times became a migraine so I decided to see my Physiotherapist. He told me that my neck was super stiff and under stress due to “lifestyle” factors. As I do not work a desk job, we related my neck stress to my frequent laptop use at home and sitting in bed on my phone.
I decided that it was time to make some lifestyle changes and wanted to begin by having a technology free couple of days to reconnect with myself, my surroundings, my family and friends, and most importantly to reconnect with the present moment.
On Thursday afternoon I decided to drive to my Mums in Geelong and switched my phone off on the way around 6pm (without advising anyone but my partner). At first I tried to bargain with myself; “Oh but I’ll need my alarm” or “What if something happens to someone and they need to contact me” but then thought, I didn’t have work for another 4 days so an alarm wasn’t necessary and if someone really needed to contact me there was a million other ways to do so. So that was it, my phone was off.
I won’t lie; it made me feel pretty uneasy and nervous.
After dinner Mum and I took the dogs for a walk. We walked around the dark streets and took the dogs to the park, where she showed me her favourite tree and told me how she often puts her hands on the tree, looks up and admires its beauty, being the oldest tree in the street. I grew up with a rather wild, open-minded and compassionate mother so this didn’t surprise me. I walked up to the tree myself, put my hands on it and looked up to admire its beauty, and she was right! There was something magical about this tree, strong and wise, Mother Nature in all her glory. As we walked around the streets, taking in our surroundings while the dogs wondered around, I realised how rare it is to actually stop and notice our surroundings.
We so often have our heads down and miss the opportunity to take in so much inspiration and beauty by simply looking up. We live in a world where we have somehow convinced ourselves that life isn’t happening right here and now but rather happening in the past or future and we are constantly distracted by that, instead of being connected to the present moment.
Waking up naturally, without an alarm on Friday reminded me of what a nice way that is to start the day. I began the day with 40 minutes of Yoga on the front porch, where I really enjoyed stretching and moving my body, and then took the dogs for a walk. When I got home I cooked myself a huge healthy breakfast and sat at the table to eat. So often if I eat alone I am on my phone and never focus on my food. While sitting there in complete silence with just my food and myself, I remembered something I had heard at a wellness workshops I had attended a couple of weeks prior; and that was to take a breath between every mouthful of food. I can’t explain this – so I challenge you to do this to understand why I’m suggesting that when we eat, we just eat.
In the afternoon I hung out with my sister and then sat outside in the sun and finished my book, The Alchemist. It speaks about the universe and following your ‘Personal Legend’ aka your dreams, purpose, or hearts desire. It speaks about how when you want something the whole universe conspires to help make it happen for you, but along the way you must face many lessons and master each one of them. A quote from the book that links in perfectly with my technology free weekend: “The secret is here in the present. If you pay attention to the preset, what comes later will also be better. Forget about the future, and live each day…”
Saturday morning I woke up again with no idea what time it was. I looked through one of my windows and noticed a tree growing its summer flowers and a thought so powerful came rushing over me, “I live such a privileged life” and for that I am extremely grateful. It’s amazing how gratitude can change your mood and make everything seem beautiful. I sat in the kitchen with Mum and one of my sisters while Mum made scones. We ate the scones and spoke about being present and mindful; I explained how I don’t want my most important relationships to suffer because of other people’s lives. That might sound strange, but it is so true. Social media often distracts us with other people’s business and it’s sad to think that we compromise our ‘now’, our time, only to be consumed with other people’s life… And not to mention that we probably don’t even know half of them!
“You’ll never know what you’ve missed, if you aren’t there to miss it”
As I went to turn my phone on again, I had an almost uneasy feeling. I had loved my peaceful time with my family and I had enjoyed reading and waking up when my body was ready. When I did turn my phone on, it wasn’t as bad as I thought. I had no desire to check social media, in fact I had no interest in it at all. I called my partner, who I had greatly missed and I texted a couple of friends. It felt good to be reconnected with others, in the right way. If my technology free weekend taught me anything, it was the simple fact that “everything I need is right in front of me, if I only open my eyes to see.” I also discovered some ways to be present and mindful in everyday activities and here are my tips.
Strategies to implement mindfulness and be present:
- Give yourself ‘lock out’ times, where social media and/or your phone & computer are ‘no-go zones’. For me I have decided that from 10pm to 9am social media is a no-go zone.
- Wake up each morning and think of one thing you are grateful for in your life. It’s surprising how good gratitude can make you feel.
- Meditating isn’t the only way to practice mindfulness. There are colouring books available to purchase at so many places at the moment and you can spend ten minutes each day colouring, or you could write/journal for ten minutes before bed.
- Bringing mindfulness into your everyday activities can also be done while you are on public transport, waiting in a queue or sitting in traffic. Instead of sitting on your phone or putting your earphones in, just be present. Take a look around you, watch people pass by and you might just notice something you’ve never seen before.