Unplug

We’re plugged in 24 hours a day now. We’re all part of one big machine, whether we are conscious of that or not. And if we can’t unplug from that machine, eventually we’re going to become mindless.” Alan Lightman

It gets harder and harder to unplug and detach from the noise of our daily lives. We expect to be able to “be in touch” wherever we are – planes, overseas and especially within our own homes. Most of us feel suddenly lost without Wi-Fi or cellular connection; becoming agitated when we’re faced with the prospect of being off line even for a few hours. Rather than welcome the reprieve, we curse our bad luck and wonder how we’ll keep busy or entertain ourselves during that time. What once was a normal part of everyday life, the idea of unplugging has become unacceptable and at the extreme, uncomfortable. Even those of us who actively take time to disconnect find the inability to connect when we want upsetting. Actively disengaging has become a smaller and smaller part of our life. We’ve even developed anxiety and fear about it. We tell ourselves if we can’t be on-line, the people who need us won’t be able to find us. Or maybe that if we are gone for extended periods of time, people might somehow forget us or we won’t be as valuable. There is a sense of urgency created around being able to respond to an email, a message or even a Facebook post within a certain amount of minutes. What we don’t realize, though, is that by remaining plugged into everyone else, we forget to plug into our ourselves. Our emotions and our deepest needs end up neglected or shoved to the back of the pile because we insist on being with everyone else, all of the time. Unplugging, even when it isn’t our choice, can be a tremendous gift. Maybe because we insist on remaining connected we omit our own self-care. When we unplug we might give ourselves permission to nap or to take a walk or read. When we can’t be in touch, we suddenly have more time to hear our own voice and even connect more with the people we love. And even though we initially feel some discomfort about not being able to be with others, after a while we are reminded of the benefits of being without all of the noise. We inevitably relax and become happier as a result.

Weekly Path to Peace: Actively Unplug.

  • The more often we practice unplugging from all of our electronics and means of connecting with the outside world, the more we crave that time. This week begin to carve out time daily to unplug. Begin slowly – maybe a few minutes – and build each day until you have at least one hour of time away from the noise of your daily life.
  • Before each “unplugging” session, spend a few minutes journaling before and after about what you notice. Do you feel any resistance from this exercise? How comfortable are you unplugging? What benefits did you notice from removing yourself even for a few minutes every day?

 

As you begin this week, rate your level of happiness, self-esteem and self-confidence on a scale of 1-10, with 1 being not satisfied and 10 being very satisfied. Notice where you are Sunday evening after you do this week’s peace practice to see if there is a change.