Digital vs. Earthly Realms
It feels as if the memories from the digital realm are as vivid as the ones in the earthly realm.
When I reflect about all the fun times I had with my family over meals and walks around Santa Fe, I also remember all the digital input received from my devices.
Since I’m passionate about the mind/body connection and how to keep a flow state, it seems to me that it becomes more difficult to maintain a neutral mind when connecting to my phone several times a day. More screen time equals more electricity moving through my nervous system which can lead to restlessness followed by exhaustion. This cycle can keep on happening as the habit of relying on our devices is ever more ingrained in our everyday life.
During a quick google search, I found:
“American adults spend more than 11 hours per day watching, reading, listening to or simply interacting with media, according to a new study by market-research group Nielsen. That's up from nine hours, 32 minutes just four years ago.”
When we reflect on this data, it’s easy to see that most of our waking hours are spent connected to our devices. It makes sense that many of our memories are intertwined with the digital realm. Does that mean we are missing out on fully engaging in interactions with what’s all around us in the earthly realm? Does it mean less quality time with our loved ones, or more disassociation from our bodies?
Although these answers aren’t just mine to explore, I believe that our more intimate devices, such as our phones, can also be great tools if used in a constructive way.
Here is an example:
The day outside is beautiful, and I decide to go strolling around the neighborhood with my son Jasper. I’m connecting with all that’s around me through my senses, the sun is shining, and we are having a great time. Suddenly an idea comes to mind. Before I forget it, I write it down on my phone, then pocket my phone and go back to enjoying my time with my son — that’s a constructive use of my device.
Now let’s repeat the story with a different ending:
We are strolling around and I pick up my phone to write down an idea, but then I decide to check my social media feed. All the nice photos and captions catch my attention; next thing I know I’m divided between earthly and digital realms. I’m not fully engaged in either. I see an advertisement for a shirt that I do not need but it is soooo cute! Instagram really gets my taste, and I end up buying it.
I got pulled into a vortex of information, interacting with all sorts of energies, taken out of my flow, and away from that present moment. Not only did I interact, I also fell into the trap of buying what I didn’t need. I understand cuteness, and how nice it feels to buy a new shirt, but at the same time it doesn’t feel nice to be led to make a decision through unconscious traps.
The first act, the one of using the phone to write down my thoughts, was a conscious constructive one. The second act, the one of checking my newsfeed, was an unconscious habit that takes me out of the flow, and from my connection to what truly matters: The sun outside, the beautiful day, my relationship to my body, and to my son Jasper. In addition, my nervous system had to work overtime to coexist in two realities at the same time. If this only happens once in a blue moon, the nervous system can easily handle it, but If we compound this scenario a few times a day over a month, that is a different story.
This example may seem banal, but it’s happening all the time with millions of people around the globe. Technology came to stay. It is indeed a wonderful tool, but it has become smarter and smarter, and we need to purposely work on our consciousness so we don't become mindless consumers.
Ray Kurzweil, a director of engineering at Google, is a well-known futurist with a track record for accurate predictions. Kurzweil said, “By 2029, computers will have human-level intelligence.” Which brings me to think, if technology already has the power to take our attention away and place it where it wants, can you imagine what it will be able to do by 2029?
I created a simple practice to help me keep a constructive relationship with my screen time. When I touch my phone, I ask myself, am I falling into an automatic habit, or do I ‘really’ need to interact with my device? Keeping a healthy boundary with my devices allows me to have them working for me, instead of me working for them.
If you’d like to find more ways to connect to the earthly realm, and understand why it matters, here are some good articles:
- Ways to Deepen Your Relationship to Nature
- How to Connect Your Body with Nature
- Earthing: How this practice connects your mind and body
Written by: Ariel Pinho
Edited by: Lily Zara