I flipped out. Yes, I actually got a Flip Phone last December. I was becoming too entranced, attached and reliant to my iPhone. I needed a breather from it all. So, I quit “smoking my phone” and got myself a flip phone. Remember the sound of the “flip” and how awesome it felt to text someone even though you had to work hard for it scrolling through all the numbers to get a single letter!?

Yoga works on us in mysterious ways. Right now I’m learning the power of discernment. I was moved by teacher Katerina Wen when she came to Yoga School for a weekend immersion. She spoke about yoga activism. When we say we are a “yogi” we are making a statement that we are activists.  Through the practice of yoga we become more aware, conscious and insightful. But, this is not all. We also learn to take action that positively benefits our health, our planet and our relationships.

So, last month I had this inner prompting to get rid of my iPhone. I wanted to move in the direction of living a life that includes contact with nature and with people face to face. I wanted less availability to news and information feeds and more availability to reading books or reading the expression on my child’s face. I yearned for less answers and more questions, less stimulation and more quiet, less distraction and more presence. It didn’t take long to reclaim a few things I truly appreciate and need to help me feel more centered and alive. Here are a few:

1. Nothing Compares to Face to Face Conversation: we humans need each other’s touch, eye contact and energetic vibrations.

2. Conversation strengthens relationships because you can read body language, feel emotions and work out problems even if there are tense and awkward moments.

3. Nature is more enchanting than iPhones; We live in a beautiful place that needs our attention and ohhhing and awwwwing…all of the time; Mt. Rainer, wooded forests, waves rolling on the beach, full moons, rainbows and mossy trees.

4. Less is More: because I couldn’t use an ical or text plans at the last minute I couldn’t plan a lot during the day. So for the last month I have had less on my calendar and more time to be spontaneous or to just meander through the day then click things off my list of busy ness.

5. FOMO be gone!! Instead of having a case of Fear Of Missing Out after scrolling through FB or Instagram and feeling like I was missing a NY Times article or a trip to Hawaii I instead had another case of FOMO: Fear Of Missing Ourselves! I missed us…yes, you and me like when we are on our mats in yoga getting in touch with our inner worlds and quietly and peacefully sharing in that experience and not having to tell the world about it. The next phase will be FOMI: Fear Of Missing Intimacy-Sitting next to another human being and meeting eye to eye and getting to know each other not through a screen but through the fragility of the moment.

6. Taking Photos with my heart: I know this sounds sort of sappy but it’s true. I didn’t have a phone on my hand 24-7 so I had to take in the moment through my own lens.  Why must I document every moment of my life?

7. Being Nobody Going Nowhere-there is a certain “gift” in the built in pauses in life when I can simply BE, breathe and take it all in. It is in the lulls and boring parts when I feel a spark of creativity and imagination. Without a phone to fill in the gaps I felt more in touch with the wilderness of my mind.

There are a few more gems but I must be honest-this judo move did not last as long as I had hoped. Just a couple weeks ago I realized that I had gone too far.  I flipped instead of floundered around in the muddy path of change. I knew I needed to make a change and forgot that to maintain the change it  needs to be steady and effortful and step by step. In yoga the word for this is Abhyasa-steady effort in the direction you want to go. I resisted the world I was living in instead of moderating my actions within the world.  I learned that this sort of action is sometimes necessary to jolt oneself out of the grooves of indifference and comformity or trendiness and enchantment. I learned that being aware as a yogi is not enough.  Yoga prompts us to dare to do what we need to do to align ourselves with truth, justice and health and to take positive action. Lastly, I learned that in order to be fully invested in the practice of steady effort I must be equally detached of an outcome. I didn’t know how my life would change me or those around me without my smartphone around. I let go of all outcome and explored my way of being in the world with its many foibles. This detachment – Vairagya – helped me to realize that  it’s really not the phone’s fault or Steve Jobs or our culture of consumption and obsession with digital connectivity. It is up to me. I can make healthy choices, create boundaries and exercise my discernment. I can change my mind and my behavior. This is yoga. Control from the inside out. The yamas, niyamas, bandhas, meditation, pranayama are all ways in which I can navigate the inside world-the smartphone inside-to attune to the needs and challenges of the outside world.

In the end, I decided I could meet myself somewhere in the middle. I have an iPhone once again.  I haven’t activated the mail or apps. I leave it in my car when I walk through the grand forest and I wear a wrist watch. I charged the batteries in my old camera and take it with me when the intention to take photos feels right. I have enjoyed meeting friends for walks or lunch in person instead of trusting that a text conversation will keep our connection in its most robust state. And, every day I long for the time I have at the Yoga House when we willingly enter a space free of our devices and open to the steady practice of breath, togetherness, vulnerability, quiet enchantment and sacred belonging.

With gratitude

Here are some more musings on the topic of habits, discernment, yogi activism and face to face conversation that I thought you’d enjoy:

Louis C.K. Hates Cell Phones  – see video here

Reclaiming Conversation: The Power of Talk in a digital World article in the New York Times.
Wise Warrior 30 Day Challenge with Jenna McDonald at BYH – these yogis are committing to 30 days of yoga practice-change is happening and it’s inspiring! way to go Wise Warriors
Katerina Wen – deepen your yogic studies and experience with Katerina coming to BYH Feb. 20/21 – A masterful teacher and yoga activist.  Learn more about Katerina here.
Sally Kempton article from Yoga Journal
Yoga Activist Amy Andrews with Africa Yoga Project. Amy taught a Maha Yoga class in Jan. and raised money towards her goal. She is headed to Africa in March to teach yoga and transform the lives of many African men and women.  You can read more about the Africa Yoga Project here and Amy’s journey here.