The first time you visit the Omega Institute in upstate New York, you might notice a sign on the former youth camp’s pathways asking you to turn off your cell phone. An orientation video for weekend guests makes the same recommendation, and to really nail the message, there is even an animation that shows how to remove an earbud from your ear.
When I saw that, I shamelessly snickered. The New Yorker next to me, and several others throughout the hall, did too.
No matter how pervasively the media covers the dangers of staying plugged in, a big part of me refuses to listen. Even at a retreat center in the Catskill Mountains. For my job and my own sense of mind, I want to be connected. I need it. I love it.
I can’t give it up even after reading studies that describe how technology addiction can cause depression and increase levels of anxiety. I mean, what if you miss a call? Or a significant email? Not to mention all the health problems that come with lack of sleep because you just have to stay up later and later into the night scanning the web.
Simple practices from yoga can teach us to chill out around technology and tune back into our fear-free intuition. But yoga can also help us better appreciate everything that being so technologically connected brings us—with enthusiasm and curiosity rather than anxiety and guilty attachment.
So what practices are we talking about?
A pratyahara practice. This guided relaxation practice helps us get in touch with our buddhi—our innate intelligence. If that sounds overly abstract, try answering these quick questions from yoga teacher Sandy Anderson:
1. Can you feel your sit bones on the chair?
2. Do you hear sounds in the room?
3. Do you hear sounds outside the room?
4. What do you see in your peripheral vision?
“Most likely,” Anderson notes, “you are not aware of any of these things until your buddhi calls your attention to them—even though they stream continuously into your mind.”
A practice like pratyahara can not only help us move our awareness inward, but can also mentally and emotionally recharge us after the countless hours we’ve spent paying attention to every micro development in our external environment. Listen a guided audio practice from Anderson here.
An unconventionally short yoga nidra practice. If you’re short on time or even patience, this method from Swami Rama—it takes just a couple minutes. You could practice it in a bathroom stall, in the driver’s seat of your car (parked, I might add) or even just with your back to the wall of your office.
According to Rolf Sovik, this practice will allow you to rest while remaining alert—almost as if you were awake and napping at the same time. Learn this abbreviated version—or get the full practice here—for anytime you need to rest, renew, and in this case, unplug.