Dealing With Digital Distraction

Technology can be brilliant - it enables us to do so many things that we otherwise would be unable to do.

However, sometimes it can distract us and take us away from enjoying what is right in front of us, or divide our attention in a way that can be draining - for us and for others. Knowing when technology is helpful, and when it is less so, is half the battle…

When your phone is in front of you on a commute, the temptation can be to scroll endlessly through social media (going through a Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Whatsapp loop, and then starting the cycle again to see what we've missed in the nano-seconds between checking...). By doing this we can convince ourselves that we are "killing time" (whatever that means?!) or engaging with people or being productive - sometimes that might be true, but is that the case all of the time?

If any of this rings any bells with you (no pun intended), then the next time you notice yourself on a social media cycle with your phone on, try a short practice by:

1. Putting your phone away or turning it away from you so that the screen is face down on your lap.
2. Looking up and noticing your surroundings. What can you see? What can you hear (it may be lots of other people on their phones!)?
3. If it feels OK, placing both feet flat on the floor, and closing your eyes.
4. Sensing both feet on the floor and the contact you have with the ground.
5. Bringing attention to noticing your breath in the body for 3 breaths - no need to breath differently, just notice your breath how it is right now.
6. Taking a few moments like this to tune into your surroundings again, noticing what you can hear, and what  (if any) sensations you can notice in your body.
7. Opening your eyes, and noticing any responses - do you have an urge to grab your phone back and see what you missed, or are you happy staying without it for a few moments longer?

Seeing if we can turn towards our tendency to be 'digital distracted' as part of a mindfulness practice can be useful for several reasons - we can bring an attitude of curiosity and non-judgement towards our habitual tendencies to be tied to technology (and I'm a definite culprit of this as much as the next person), and approach the habit itself as an opportunity for practice.  So if you're reading this on your phone right now and wondering whether or not you're going to put it down or move straight onto the next piece social media interaction, see what happens if you take a break, and let me know how you get on:).