Going ScreenlessMar 01, 2023
In an age of speed, I began to think, nothing could be more invigorating than going slow. In an age of distraction, nothing can feel more luxurious than paying attention. And in an age of constant movement, nothing is more urgent than sitting still.
― Pico Iyer
I took my first series of yoga classes while working as an executive secretary in a midtown Manhattan office. This was the early ’90s, when we still had old-fashioned tape counters that would measure how much of a cassette tape you’ve played and whose numbers could be set back to a string of zeros by pressing a button.
By the end of the class, I felt as though my tape counter was set back to 0000. My reset included a release of the mental residue left over from the events of my day; a healthy distance from the stress of whatever current dramas were unfolding; and the clarity, lightness, and ease that come from working accumulated tension out of the body.
Through focused attention to movement and consciously freeing the breath, I was ready to begin again with renewed clarity and presence of mind.
Today, our world that moves infinitely faster than midtown Manhattan did 20 years ago. The sheer speed and volume of communication, the infinite array of content at our fingertips, is mind-boggling. And it isn’t going to slow down or diminish.
Now more than ever, we need the ability to reset our internal tape counters.
As we move through our days interacting with the world through devices, we take our mind and sense perceptions out of the physical world.
Therefore, the importance of resetting ourselves, of taking time to slow down and come back to our physicality has become even more crucial for our well-being.
Not only must we prioritize time dedicated to removing ourselves from the world of our screens, but we also need reliable and effective ways to restore a sense of physical and energetic balance to our beings.
Yoga practice is, of course, an optimal way to renew ourselves. It (hopefully) remains one of the places where we disconnect from texting, social media, and email for an hour or so.
But even more powerfully, in practice we bring the energy of the mind back down into the body, the breath, and the organic, physical reality of our embodied existence. We reawaken to our primitive, organic, and instinctual nature. We give refuge to the mind, provide a resting place for the senses, an opportunity for them to pause from their outgoing movement. The value of bringing the mind into the body and staying there for a while has only gotten more precious.
Through unplugging from our outer lives for a little while, we give ourselves the chance to plug into the most empowering and nourishing sources of renewal we have: our own breath, our own awareness, our own inner being.