This weekend, I had the pleasure of finding some alignment in my intentions and my actions. At the end of the week, I set a goal to better begin my days with a slow start and to disconnect from my cell phone. Over the weekend, my fiance and I were fortunate to attend a retreat in preparation for our upcoming nuptials, and spent the majority of the three days without phones or internet - completely present to the moment and each other during this part of our journey.
It's no surprise that we are all more connected to devices than was even possible a decade ago. To some extent, our over-connectedness has been wonderful - we are able to keep in touch with loved ones, and even virtually cross oceans. We can attempt to be more productive than ever, with the flick of a finger on a keyboard or screen. But often, having a phone glued to our hands and eyes can prevent us from truly being in the moment, and letting ourselves listen to the organic thoughts and emotions that naturally arise in our minds.
I've noticed lately that my craving for what I've deemed "updates" is something that I'd like to step away from. These updates surround anything from buzzing text messages and emails to the change in weather or the status of a train delay. They are things that keep me constantly in motion, plugged in, and often, tuned out. Quite often, things like true introspection, personal insight, and awareness can get lost in the mix of digital noise.
One way to begin cutting the electronic cords in our lives is the begin the day without them. For many people, their first instinct in the morning is to reach for the phone, even before getting out of bed. While sleep experts herald the positive effects of limited screen time before bed, I wonder if we could all also benefit from limited attachment before we arise. It might allow us to begin our day slowly, and let our first thoughts evolve from a sleepy subconscious atmosphere to a more gentle focus on daily intention. This type of practice encourages true inward listening, and doesn't allow noise to disrupt the mission we set around our daily purpose.
I've made it my goal to begin disconnecting at the start of my day, just as I've worked to limit my evening screen time exposure. I'm working hard to remember what David Whyte says in his poem on beginning the day intentionally, "In that first hardly noticed moment in which you wake, coming back to this life from the other more secret, movable and frighteningly honest world where everything began, there is a small opening into the new day which closes the moment you begin your plans."
Interested in beginning to reset the way you arise? Here's my challenge to you:
- Set an attainable goal for a certain number of days each next week that you'd like to invite yourself to wake up quietly and not peek at your phone. You could start with one day or three, but make the goal one that isn't too easy but not impossible to reach.
- Consider a method of reminding yourself to do this. It could be a note next to your bed, a reminder with your morning alarm (again, no peeking at that email once you turn off the alarm!), or a reminder from your bedmate.
- Think about what might get in your way of reaching this goal. An important part of reaching a goal lies within personal accountability. For example, I worried that using my phone to wake up and remind me to start my day slow would push me to begin looking at messages. In order to prevent that, I chose to print out David Whyte's poem, which moved me greatly, and place it next to my bed as a moving reminder to start slow. If you're interested in a similar practice, I'd also recommend "Why I Wake Early" by Mary Oliver or "The Waking" by Theodore Roethke.
- Before you get out of bed, take a few deep full body breaths and set an intention for the day. It could be an intention around how you want to feel, what you want to explore, or what gratitude you might want to incorporate in your day. Whatever you do, avoid thinking about your "to-do" lists.
- Consider a quick 5-15 minute meditation to allow yourself the time to make even more space and let those intentions you set truly marinate.
- Finally, begin your day, and take notice of how those mornings that you incorporate this act differ from the others. Make note of changes in how you feel at the start and end of each day.