June 13th, 2012

The Value Of (Dis)Connection

By Eka Ekong

It happened again. While teaching and circulating around the room, I saw the blue afterglow reflecting off the floor. One of my students was texting. I walked over and in a very stern, yet graceful way told them that this was not allowed. I felt like a parent catching a child with a dirty magazine. The response, rather than being apologetic, was indignant. For a moment, I thought a Jedi mind trick was being played on me: “Oh, excuse me, it’s my fault. Please text away. We'll just be over here, practicing yoga...” I quickly came back to reality.

I’m noticing this is not a one-time occurrence. I’ve seen it while in yoga classes as teacher and student, as people walk around the city, faces buried in their phones, bumping into objects like bats, or even two people at dinner, their eyes locked on what’s in their hands rather than each other.

We are becoming more present in our relationship with technology rather than the present moment.

Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate technology, and enjoy it (as I type away on my i-whatever). I owned an Atari, and typed what seemed like endless jargon in grade school ( Messages were taken via answering machines, and if you were a hipster of those days, you had a beeper AND a car phone the size of your forearm.

I graduated from flip phone to smart phone, PC to Mac. I geek out on TED talks and software upgrades. I tweet, I Facebook... However, there is a time and a place for everything. While I enjoy chocolate in my peanut butter, I don't like texting in my yoga class. Perhaps I’m old school (and not in that Will Ferrell/Luke Wilson kind of way).

There is something to be said for taking time to be completely unavailable to the outside world, and wholeheartedly available to your Self. When we take a break from external technology we can really get down to knowing what makes us tick. We can learn our patterns, our reactions, and the truth of our own soul.

I know being with Self can be scary. There aren’t any status updates, witty hashtags or foursquare check-ins. It can seem like a solo expedition into unknown terrain that you think you have packed inadequately for. You might feel like you're missing out on something in these moments of quiet and self-exploration. In actuality, we’re missing out on the greatest gifts if we don’t. There is a treasure within our hearts that doesn’t require validation from our job, our relationships, our belongings, amount of “likes” or re-tweets. A light beyond all sorrow and insecurity. We need to take a timeout to drop into this deeper understanding. As we drop out to drop back in, we become more aware of our divine nature and cultivate more presence in every situation.

If you think about it, when we were born, most of our mothers were hooked up to a computer. When we pass (although I wish it otherwise), many of us will be hooked up to a computer.

Savor each breath in between, whether it’s on your mat or off. Look up when you’re outside, basking in the greatest science of all, Nature. Treasure each precious moment you spend with your loved ones. Take none of it for granted.

Unplug to tap into your inner wisdom and the Now. This is true connection and far better than any text or app.

My Manduka helps me practice being present.

What does your Manduka help you practice?

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