by Kyle Beard on Wednesday, August 26th, 2015
You walk into an office building and press the ‘up’ bottom for the elevator. While the elevator is moving towards your location, you pull out your phone to check for any new texts. You know that your phone will vibrate in your pocket when a new text arrives, but you still check – just in case. When the elevator doors open and you select your floor, you begin to scroll through Facebook or CNN to check the latest news. A mere few seconds creates the opportunity to check in with the happenings of the digital world. What happened to listening to evaluator music? Or possibly taking a deep breath as you rise in an elevator? Any quiet moment has now become an opportunity to check the social media updates or log onto a game you play in your free time.
Not too long ago, this constant connection to media was inconceivable in our society. The arrival of the smart phone has changed how we communicate, connect, and spend every spare moment. In today’s world, thirty seconds of silence on an elevator can feel like a deafening silence with nothing to do. Many of us have lost the art of taking a moment to ourselves. We have become so connected to the virtual world that we developed a fear of being alone. The idea of a silent retreat or being “unplugged” from our digital devices creates anxiety and stress. We’ve become afraid of the sound of our own thoughts.
The thought of taking a vow of silence, like the Franciscan Monks in the Middle Ages, may seem like torture to our busy generation. We have become obsessed with every action our friends post via social media, yet fail to recognize the emotions and desires that exist within ourselves. Our bodies and brains perceive an enormous amount of information unbeknownst to our conscious minds, but we miss this information when we are completely taken in by technology. Our senses receive a plethora of details around us, but we neglect to tap into them because we are distracted by the latest news on our digital device. The more we engulf ourselves in constantly being entertained, the less attune we are with ourselves and our surroundings.
What can you do to change this? There are simple things you can do to get back in touch with yourself and your surroundings. Listen to the elevator music. Look around at a red light and familiarize yourself with a new restaurant or business in the area. Meet a friend for coffee, turn your phone on silent, and be fully present with the person before you. Sit down alone and spend some time with yourself – no phone, computer, or tv – just yourself. Sit on a patio listening to the sounds around you. Allow your thoughts to wonder without direction, falling where they may. Let your mind be bored. You might learn something new about yourself or the environment around you, simply because it you have stopped to be present.