“No-Fail” Friday: Screen time

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Earlier this week, I shared my personal belief (and experience) that the effects of a regular mindfulness practice will probably show up in your everyday life before you ever reach a point where any of it feels “easy.” You may find that you’re less quickly irritated, that your fuse under frustration takes a little longer to pop, or maybe you catch yourself just a little sooner when your mind sets sail for somewhere else while your face is having a conversation right in front of you. You’re teaching yourself how to tolerate discomfort, and how to be real with yourself about how you respond to it, too. You learn what happens when you don’t let distraction take over. You learn to be with what is – with what you actually are.

So, while I always hope that our “no-fail” weekend mindfulness challenges are interesting for you, I also hope this weekend’s version makes you a little uncomfortable.  It’s good for you, I promise, and while it won’t last long, the positive side effects of it just may.

This weekend, you won’t need a meditation cushion, a yoga mat or even a mindful app to get going with your challenge. You may need your breath, though, because there will be moments here when a few deep breaths are exactly what you need to get through.

What you’ll really need, though, is an hour. It doesn’t have to be a completely free hour, but it does need to be one in which you won’t need (note emphasis) to look at a screen. This, my friends, includes your phone.

I know, I know….whaaaaaaat??? What’s wrong with me? Am I crazy?? What are you supposed to do for that whole, entire, hour-long hour?

Good question! You tell me. But I will tell you what you’re not going to do: text, search, respond, play, watch, like, comment, listen, or engage in any way with a device with a screen. You may want to have some old-fashioned paper on hand, though, for taking some notes about all the things that happen within you when you let go of the need to always have something happening around you.

Not that there isn’t always something happening, though. Clouds float, people walk by, flowers bloom, rain falls. But you know what I mean, right? Also, you don’t need to be totally unoccupied during this time. You can go about your activities as planned, just as long as they don’t include a screen.

Soooo….that’s it. One hour, screen-free, with some non-judgmental observation and maybe a few notes on how this one, “simple” little exercise affects you. Was it a breeze? Did it make you want to scream? Did you barely notice the time passing, or did you not even know how to measure time without your phone on hand? How quickly did you start to negotiate with yourself about when you would allow yourself to look at your phone (aka, the “Instagram emergency”)?

Amazing isn’t it, how tough it can be to not do something, even if it’s something you could absolutely (physically) survive without? That is, in a word, addiction, but that’s also a conversation for another day.

If it’s tough, observe what it feels like to not give up on the exercise just because it felt uncomfortable. You stayed in it. You wanted to respond in a certain way because you have a well-established habit of doing so. But, you decided that for just this short period of time, you wouldn’t. So, you didn’t.

That, my friend, isn’t just intentionality or discipline. That’s power. And whenever you want it, it’s yours for the taking.

Photo credit: Richard Lock

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