Disconnecting to Connect

"I am present."

A couple of weeks ago I was at a Starbucks waiting for my order when I looked around and noticed that the six other people that were waiting had their heads buried in their phones. I passed by a few more people as I was leaving and they were all doing the exact same thing – walking with their heads down, barely noticing anyone around them because they were involved with someone on a tiny screen.

This got me thinking – we have more opportunity than ever before to connect with each other, but it seems like we're becoming increasingly disconnected. People would rather be plugged into their device instead of interacting with the world that's right in front of them.

Now, I've been guilty of this too. There have been plenty of times I've been walking somewhere and checking Instagram at the same time, or I've been out with friends and taken my phone out. However, about two weeks ago I decided to challenge myself. I wanted to change my habits so that I could stay present and connect with people.

I set a few guidelines for myself. My phone and computer had to be turned off 1-2 hours before going to sleep, and I wasn't going to turn them on again until at least an hour after waking up. I had to buy a real alarm clock so that my phone wasn't my alarm, and all of my devices were charged in our office instead of the bedroom. In fact, I set my phone to charge on top of my computer and then placed a Selenite pyramid on top of them to cleanse their energy overnight. I also decided that I wouldn't check my phone while walking to/from places or while I was waiting somewhere.

These guidelines might sound simple, but it has been quite the challenge. It has taken time to adjust and not automatically reach for my phone while waiting for something or walking somewhere. But, things are shifting and I'm seeing the benefits.

For instance, I've become much more conscious of when and how I use my phone; I'm not at the beck and call of a ring or vibration in my pocket. My attention span has lengthened, which allows me to have better focus and actively engage with people on a deeper level. My appreciation for nature has grown. I've also noticed that my mind doesn't seem to chatter as much and, if it does, I'm able to notice it and return to the present moment much more easily.

It's still a work in progress. Sometimes I accidentally forget, but I've been working with the mantra "I am present" to help.

I feel like if people took the time to be conscious about their device usage and spent more time connecting with the world around them, we'd have a totally different world. We'd have more empathy and compassion because we'd recognize our shared humanity. Imagine the difference in a person's day if you smiled at them, said hello, or gave them a compliment instead of standing or walking by them glued to your phone.

Get honest with yourself and your own habits. Do you feel like you're spending more time on your phone than with the people around you? If so, how can you cut back and change that? Give it a try this week and see how it feels.