A Trick for Staying Present

How often are you on your phone? Every five seconds, like me? No?

Despite my efforts to practice mindfulness and to stay in the present moment, I look at my phone all the time. Just yesterday, I took my phone out waiting for the crosswalk. I checked the weather. I was outside.

I’ve been aware of this issue for some time — even making a conscious effort to keep my phone away during “waiting” times, i.e. waiting for the elevator, waiting for the check, waiting for the train. But it’s almost like a tick; I’ll take my phone out and start scrolling through Instagram before I realize I’m doing it.

SO. Today I downloaded the Moment app. Have you heard of it? It tracks how much time we spend on our phone (apparently it’s around 4 HOURS A DAY!!!!), and I’m going to take a long hard look at myself. I keep thinking about how I feel after a few days of vacation or unplugging. You know that feeling? When you haven’t opened your laptop or looked at your phone or checked Facebook and you feel this expansive clarity and you’re centered and light and free? Why can’t we take a hint and try applying that to our every day lives, even if it just means leaving our phones behind when we go to the bathroom? Plus, there are so many studies that show being bored is GOOD for the brain and for creativity.

And there’s so much that we miss when we’re on our phones. “I do get a deep pleasure from looking,” says artist David Hockney on seeing the world around him. “I mean, I can look at a little puddle on a road in Yorkshire and just have the rain falling on it and think it’s marvelous.”

Here’s to more puddle watching. Won’t you join me?

Photo by Justin Chung

7 thoughts on “A Trick for Staying Present

  1. Hey Joy–
    I noticed this topic is the same as Joanna Goddard’s on Cup of Jo for today, then noticed that it’s the same David Hockney quote. Is this coincidence? If not, it seems some credit for inspiration is in order. I’m trying to word this in a gentle way. I hope it comes across as such.

  2. I just bought a new watch so that I don’t have to take out my phone when I want to know the time (and then inevitability get sucked into the scrolling instagram black hole). I also was embarrassed to realize I was losing my ability to read an analog clock!

  3. What a marvelous thought. When I teach a yoga class, I often spend the first minute focusing the class on their breath and calling them to feel present on their mats- not worrying about anything that happened earlier in the day, nor anything that will happen after class. I’ll have to try out that app! Thanks for the tip. 🙂

  4. I will definitely be downloading that app! I laughed out loud when you said you caught yourself checking the weather when you were outside! But the truth is I’ve done that myself :-/

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