You know that feeling of security and comfort – of intimacy – when you receive someone’s full attention?
Or the contentment you experience in the immediate physical presence of someone you care for?
These are things that you are born ready to give and receive.
Your physical attachment to loved ones is the ground for deep and satisfying emotional well-being. Face-to-face presence, eye contact, and touch are vital to your happiness.
And yet, you are being pulled away from what’s natural to you and deprived of the very things necessary to your happiness.
You are being robbed of these by design.
You are being robbed by experts who know how to manipulate your brain and body anatomy.
Deep down, in your body, you feel the conflict. You actually notice it in your body even before you feel something wrong in your mental and emotional life.
What does your body do when you are expecting a text?
Your eyes repeatedly dart toward the phone. The side of your body closest to your phone leans ever so slightly toward it.
There’s a tug every time there’s a text, or a share, or an email or a ‘like.”
When you hear the ping, even when you don’t act on it, your body reacts. Your immediate presence and attention are pulled away from whatever you are doing, or whomever you are with. You might even ignore the ping.
You are interrupted, distracted.
Why? Because the device you carry with you everywhere manipulates your neurophysiology.
The developers of the pings and flickering images know how to make it extremely difficult for you to be comfortable in your body without your device, or without a screen in front of you. It benefits them to agitate your mind, and they know how to do that through your body.
They know your anatomy – the neurological functions of your brain. And they use this to manipulate you – to keep you using. They deliberately cause you to feel anxious if you don’t have your device with you. They want you to be perturbed awaiting texts, and keep you buying products they create and sell.
They want to keep you interrupted and your attention split. That makes it easier for them to keep you doing what they want you to do – use their devices or services. Because that benefits them.
They are not concerned about the shift in your brain that creates an actual addiction to your device and takes you away from the face-to-face interactions that you need to flourish – to be happy in your body and mind.
In fact, there are consultants and product design specialists whose job is to find ways to make it difficult for you to disengage with your device, to ignore a text alert or a call.
And they have succeeded.
They depend on you not to notice what’s occuring in your body and your mind.
You are being compelled to interrupt yourself when you think you are choosing the interruption.
This compulsion is not your fault. It is created in your body by your devices which use the same neurological, chemical, and social triggers to keep you using that were first developed to keep people playing slot machines in casinos and by advertisers to get you to buy things.
The aim is to hold you in the shallows – keep you from clear thought and reflection, and limit you to reactions created by the release of chemicals (adrenaline and cortisol) in your body, which the devices trigger by design.
Holding you in the shallows by design does two things at once – increases your anxiety while compelling you to search for satisfaction in the one place you cannot find it.
What are you being robbed of by design -- compelled to disrupt yourself, immersed in a sea of urgency and anxiety?
What does your body tell you?
You are being robbed of your connection to your calm core, and careful, reflective thought. You are being held on the surface – deliberately churned by design – disengaged from the Real You.
The Real You is the deepest, sweetest, core part of you who savors everything good in your life. It’s also the You who navigates the most difficult parts of your life with profound grace and humor.
Consistently calm. Consistently at peace. Consistently filled with contentment. This is the Real You.
The Real You is adept at giving comfort and support to others because of your immersion in your own depths.
This is the you who is Present to yourself, and thereby able to be fully Present to others in nurturing and resourceful ways.
The intimacy of emotional well-being begins in your depths and from there you extend this to others. The less connected you are to your own calm core, the less able you are to receive the benefits of presence and attention from others, even from those you love.
Connecting to the Real You requires time away from the internet, from your device. It requires self care that is restorative and nourishing.
You can’t find the Real You in the shallows. And you can’t find the Real You instantly. You cannot find your true self if you are constantly disrupted.
You must begin by connecting to your calm core in simple, small, incremental ways to be successful.
The states of anxiety and urgency that your device creates in you are not false. They are the real results of exploitation of your brain and body chemistry.
You can begin to unravel the effects of the adrenalin and dopamine loops that your device creates in your brain by using your body in different ways from device use.
You can create new muscle and neurotransmission memory in your body.
You can do this because your body has a gift for creating habits. Habits sustain your ability to continue with activities. You can harness your gift by creating habits that cultivate and sustain your calm core and tranquility instead of those which create anxiety and urgency.
Start with your senses.
You know the world through your body, through the information you receive through the gift of your senses. One of the things device use does is shut down your awareness of your sensory experience.
You stop noticing your body and the wondrous experiences that are possible when you touch, taste, smell, see, and hear. Even the design of the devices themselves is created to limit these experiences. When you are less aware of your body it’s easier to exploit your mind.
Here is a simple practice you can start with, one you can use throughout your day as you remember to do so – give yourself simple sensory island breaks.
Be intentional about it.
Each day either at a specified time of day – the same time each day is what creates a habit – give yourself a ten-minute sensory island break.
In those ten minutes do something that is particularly pleasing to one of your senses or to several. But it must be away from any screen.
Silence your phone, and if you are at the office, make a “do not disturb” sign.
Then attend to your senses.
This can be with something as simple as your coffee and a yummy treat. When it’s break time, pay attention to your coffee. If you make it yourself, notice all of the aspects of coffee-making: the sounds, smells, touches, temperatures, sights. Focus on these. Once you have your mug in hand, notice the feel of the mug, its shape and fit in your hand, the smell of the coffee, it’s color. Notice in what ways these are different now from when the coffee was being made.
Continue attending to your coffee and your senses as you sip it –- sip, don’t gulp. Attend to the changes in the taste as it expands in your mouth, to it’s warmth and aroma.
Do the same with your yummy treat. There are marvelous subtleties and changes that occur as you see, touch, smell, taste, and even hear the sounds of your treat as you chew – slowly.
If it’s a lovely day, walk outside – slowly. Attend to the sounds, sunlight, smells. Be intensely aware of the textures of anything you touch. There is a myriad of choices of things to attend to – shapes, forms, temperatures, colors, sounds, light, shadow, the play of all of these things together.
These are just two examples of things you do every day – take breaks and walk outside – that you can begin to use as antidotes to the habits of anxiety and urgency that your devices are designed to create in you.
Just these simple things, making islands of sensory awareness time in your day, will begin to shift your muscle and neurotransmission memory. That’s a start. But there’s more if you wish.
If you wish to get out of the shallows and further into the depths with doable practices that liberate the Real You, enroll in the course I created to help you do this. I also offer personal coaching.