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Please Put Down Your Phone!

October 26, 2015

San Clemente

As Jimmy Himmel informed Marty McFly and Doc Brown on their historic 10.21.15 “Back to the Future” visit, the smart phone is our greatest achievement of the past 30 years…. We don’t yet have flying cars or hoverboards, or self-lacing shoes, but we do have “tiny super computers” that provide a multitude of functions including driving directions, storing your favorite songs, the answers to trivia, giving you the weather report, saving your passwords and gift cards, connecting you to Facebook, Twitter and Instragram, depositing checks into your bank account,  keeping track of your daily steps and heart rate, providing the daily stock report, taking photos and video clips, and – oh yes – making phone calls (your choice of voice or “face-time”)!

At the swipe of a finger or a touch of a button we can manage any number of tasks, connect to friends and family around the world and capture moments for posterity. We rely on our phones to wake us up in the morning and to keep track of our schedules and correspondence throughout the day, not to mention, keep track of the where-a bouts of our children. And yet, Marty and Doc do not seem impressed.

Could it be that with our phones as an extension of our hands, our ears tuned into those “pings” for email and texts, our eyes locked onto our screens, that we are actually missing out on our  very lives? It seems that our kids can’t take a drive in the car without having their phones charged, so that they can listen to music, text their friends or play their games.  What happened to gazing out the window and enjoying the scenery, appreciating and learning from our surroundings?  When was the last time you enjoyed a leisurely meal, engaging in delightful conversation, banning cell phones’ distractions? Or even took an invigorating hike or enjoyed a glorious sunset, without interrupting the peace and tranquility to capture the moment with a “selfie”?

With so many means to track, record and “save” each moment, are we actually missing the experience of living these moments, of truly being in the moment? Isn’t it possible to experience and truly appreciate each moment without tweeting, tagging or posting about it?

At Vista Hill SmartCare we encourage patients and community members to incorporate Mindfulness into to their daily lives to assist with decreasing depression and anxiety, to assist with managing ADHD and addictions, to ease the pain of grief and loss, and to integrate into self-care for many health care concerns. As I have written previously, a Mindfulness practice teaches us to live each moment as it unfolds, to focus attention on what is happening in the present and accept it without judgment.  For some of us this may include a formal meditation practice, and for others this may include paying full and complete attention to our activity of the moment, utilizing all of our senses for complete attendance, involvement and enjoyment.

Yes, there are “apps” for mindfulness meditations that we can download onto our phones, and soothing music that we can incorporate into our yoga practice, or take with us on our mindful walks. I am not suggesting that to be truly mindful that we must discard our phones.  But I am suggesting that to be fully present with those we care about and to thoroughly experience the wonders of those daily moments, precious and ordinary, and to truly appreciate what we have, these are the times to please, put down your phone!

Pamela Sachs, LCSW

cellphone

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