There are plenty of reports circulating online such as: “How I survived without using Facebook for a week” or “How I lived without the Internet for three hours”. All worthy tales of heroism in our current era of addiction.
I didn’t go to such harsh extremes, but removed myself from active Whatsapp groups. It was starting to feel like I had the random thoughts of 23 people in my head all the time. Everytime I checked my phone during idle moments, my mind would be flooded with someone else’s thoughts.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s relaxing to shoot the sh*t in a mindless conversation. It’s a nice way to stay in touch with people. But, it was beginning to feel like I was drowning under the tides of distraction. I never had an idle moment. Why stare blankly at other commuters or drain brainpower reading anything serious? Instead, check social media for bite-sized humour, explore beautiful travel photos, browse personal updates, and get attention!
When I pulled the plug and allowed myself to be idle, I could literally feel my own thoughts flowing back into the center of my mind: sparkles here and there, such as random memories, strands of conversations during the day, elements of the environment, all sorts of observations I hadn’t consciously considered, mingling and blending into larger thoughts. If each thought is a snowflake, now they were falling fast and softly, flirting aimlessly with each other, snowballing upon descent, and layering onto older structures of thought to reveal new forms and landscapes.
It happens deep down, subconsciously, in a dream-like mood. Usually, there is no way to provide a play-by-play sports commentary on the whirl of thoughts floating through the space of mind. Just fragments – some snowflakes are visible, others drift lazily in the misty distance; suddenly, some will come into light, suddenly, fade again.
In a flash, it disappears the moment we plug into a social media account and start chatting. It’s like a submarine going deeper into the ocean – it never gets a chance to submerge into the deeper, quiet still of the ocean because it’s constantly racing back up to the surface to catch a passing conversation. There is always temptation to escape the heaviness of thought in our work, but going for a walk or shopping now feels preferable to the entangling Net.
There is peace in the free falling of snowflakes. It’s a good start. But, there is extra power in recognizing every snowflake and to be conscious of each thought racing through our mind. This is gained through mindful meditation, and I will write about its impact in an upcoming post.