Photo By D Sharon Pruitt

For Mother’s Day my wonderful husband surprised me with an iphone (he must have read my earlier post…thanks honey!). I had been interested in using a phone with a calendar that links to my home computer as I had started to become more forgetful of appointments and hoped that technology would help my overtaxed brain.

Technology IS amazing. The iphone almost makes having a computer unnecessary. I can write and retrieve emails, read blogs and websites, find directions, look up recipes and have the ingredients immediately appear in my grocery list. I can check off to do lists, find out what song is playing on the radio, watch a movie and read a book. Those are just a few of the unbelievable things that this little piece of wonderful can do.

This fragile piece of equipment begins to hold one’s life together. It transforms into a new appendage suspended from the ear or hanging near the hip. The attachment one gets to this object is almost immediate. Apple is genius. Just look around the next time you are in a public place. Many people will have their phones out checking this or that in restaurants, stores, school plays and waiting rooms. It is amazing how many opportunities we miss relating to one another while we obliviously type into our devices in a transparent bubble of private space.

Non-attachment is a crucial element in Buddhism. The ever-changing path that our lives are on creates a need for non-attachment to find happiness. Non-attachment allows everything to roll off one’s shoulder. When you begin to form attachments to objects, people or ideas, disappointment and unhappiness follow when those elements change.

If you have transferred your life’s contacts, notes and schedules into a device that can fall, get lost and broken then you open yourself up for some major (and probably inevitable) unhappiness.

So in this day of amazing technology how can we stay present and mindful?

  • I am a huge fan of the website I get regular email reminders to be thankful. This site brings me back to a state of gratefulness and mindfulness.
  • Believe it or not, but Facebook and Twitter help us to stay mindful. They have allowed us to connect to people in our lives that because of distance or circumstance may have disappeared. It has made us all more aware and giving by reminding us of special events and birthdays. FB allows us to share the happenings in our lives that not everyone would have heard otherwise—opening the door to more personal connections and interactions. It has allowed us to expand our world giving us an easy way to find others with similar interests. Facebook and Twitter both allow us an opportunity to acknowledge what is happening in our lives on a moment to moment basis.
  • Our phones now beep and buzz with every email or call— interrupting conversations or projects with reminders of potentially more urgent matters. Next time you hear your phone’s cue that you have a new email, take a cleansing breath instead. Instead of rushing to retrieve the new message, take time to focus on the moment at hand with a breath. (I have always had issues with the idea of caller ID or call waiting. It seems to go against good manners. It forces us to interrupt a conversation to take the call of the interrupter… I wonder what Emily Post would say!)
  • Instead of talking on the phone in the car (which is proven to be as bad as driving drunk), when the phone rings instead of answering it, use the ring as a reminder to focus on the road and what you see around you as you are driving. Find three things that you are passing by to bring you back to the here and now.
  • Lastly, when playing with your children, leave the phone in your car. It is the same idea as leaving your work at the office. We can take our work everywhere these days. It is important for our children that we be fully present while with them. Picking up the phone to look at new emails undermines the time we spend with our children as it sends the message that whatever is on the other end of that phone is more important.

Technology will continue to change the way we live our lives, but we must remember that it doesn’t replace the air we breath or the people with whom we surround ourselves. Don’t forget to take time to turn off technology and connect to your life and those that truly make it important.