By Danaé Reid
My nature has shifted from optimistic to pessimistic quite often lately, which is completely out of character for me. But all things considered, I know that I am not alone. Candor has always been one of my strong suits — maybe sometimes to a fault — but as of late, I’ve found myself increasingly vocal about how the trajectory of this year has worn me into a nub.
My head spins over whether or not I feel like being excited about life on this or that day, and it seems that even when I do manage to find something to cling to, the reality of circumstance swoops in and propels me into an existential crisis.
In an effort to seek peace in any way that I could, I recently transformed my iPhone into a brick for the weekend — from Friday to Monday, I was not able to be reached by phone, text, email, Instagram DM, Facebook Messenger and the like. For many, the concept may seem admirable; for others, the idea conveys psychosis and a bit of irresponsibility, but it is my understanding that the truth of the matter falls somewhere in the midst of the three.
My decision to disconnect (once again) was conceived out of a sheer desire to feel some semblance of control about a month ago and was then birthed by necessity last week after watching “The Social Dilemma” on Netflix, a documentary about the unfathomable level of control that social media, the internet, and our phones have over us. Watching this film brought up feelings of extreme discomfort and neuroticism that was only made worse by the fact that we’re still in the midst of a pandemic.
Again, after finding myself entangled in an extreme whirl of existentialism and a lack of sense of self, I returned to what I knew about the Buddhists’ teaching of mindfulness — “Keep your mind where your body is.”
The aforementioned has been conveyed to me in a myriad of ways over the past few months especially, but it wasn’t until I removed my ego and other distractions that I was able to fully digest the message as it was intended.
As humans, we tend to get wrapped up in external “so and sos,” whether it is our work lives, our social calendar, our futures, etc., which leaves little time for us to enjoy the moments that are quite literally gone in an instant.
Unfortunately, we are a distracted people who seek ways to further distract and isolate ourselves, even when it’s against our own genuine will, thus lending itself to the perpetual loom and gloom that many of us have been feeling to the umpteenth degree this past year.
And although things seem to be getting increasingly crazier, we must find ways to continue to exist harmoniously, both with ourselves and others, in spite of the odds we’re up against. Worrying about the future ruins today.
Understanding that being mindful is no easy feat, I encourage you to try some of the activities I partook in during my “phone-less” weekend.
Turn off your phone: Even if it’s just for an hour or so a day, take time to limit as much distraction as possible. It’s a great way to remain present and alert of your surroundings! It’s amazing how much you miss even by just knowing how accessible your phone is.
Journal: Writing out your feelings in the most complex, rugged, raw way is a sure way to keep you in the moment and connected to yourself
Take a walk: There’s so much beauty surrounding us that we miss because we’re checking our phones or listening to our music.
Dancing in the mirror: A great way to keep your mind and body in the same place is to move it! I love to watch myself dancing and singing in the mirror when no one is watching. It’s freeing and enhances self-love and confidence inadvertently.
Do an activity that you’ve been putting off: Again, completing tasks without having your phone in your peripheral is a completely different and more enjoyable experience.