It was October 30th. A couple days away from a new month. I always think that the first of the month has energy similar to that of a new year. A chance to start fresh, a new beginning. I turned to my husband while we got into bed and said, "I am giving up Facebook and Instagram for the month of November."
"Why?" he asked.
"Well, it doesn't bring me joy anymore. I am constantly going for it at any moment of downtime; when I'm standing in line, on the bus, a break at work, when I come home and am tired, when I am sleeping in on the weekends...it's becoming crack cocaine and I don't like it. I am abusing my use of it. It's scaring me and numbing me out."
"Okay," he said. "Sounds good."
I uninstalled my FB and Instagram applications from my phone. I signed out of my FB account on my laptop. I let people know in my life. I felt like I had just threw out a bunch of old stuff that had been taking over my physical and mental space. I could take a deep breath.
So now, here I am. It's December and I wanted to share my "notes from the field," on my sabbatical. I will say, it was one of the best things I did for myself this year. Since the sabbatical, I have noticed a huge shift in my device habits. I also don't crave it as much. Since November 30th, the end of my own sabbatical, I have gone days without jumping on. I haven't even updated my status. It's like a part of me has died, in a really good way. Here's what I got:
I got close with boredom and clear about distraction. I really came face to face with this idea of boredom and how, when there is a just a little window of space, my knee jerk reaction is to go for the device or the webpage. I found that there are so many moments of my life like that; waiting for the bus, waiting in line, at a break during a meeting, when I am bored of working on a project...the list goes on. I sank into this space of enjoying the space and finding other ways to be centered, versus running from the present. Breath work, a walk, a stretch break, journaling, listening to new music. All of those things were way more joyous than surfing mindlessly.
I craved quiet time and silence. I have been doing a lot of reading about digital noise and how it's just as chaotic and disrupting as actual noise we hear in our ears. After about a week into my sabbatical, I started sinking into quiet more and more. I realized how much I need quiet and silence in my own life, especially as a natural introvert. It really helps me build my own capacity to be in the world, doing the work I do, which led me to...
Turning my energy towards juicy stuff. Movement, meditation, yoga, real connection, and cooking. I came home to some of my loves. Now, I am not completely sure that ditching Facebook increased my participation in these activities, but I did make these activities more of a priority in November and loved it. I felt completely nourished and excited about my daily sitting practice (still going strong), and had new found energy to be in my kitchen. I also enjoyed many face-to-face connections with friends over tea and got on some great walks.
I got clear about what my devices exist for. I have a new found relationship with my phone. I still don't have the Facebook app installed and I turned off my e-mail notifications for my personal e-mail. (I haven't had work e-mail on my phone since early 2014), and with all these tiny adjustments, I have embraced what digital boundaries are like. I also got clear on the real purpose of my device: to connect when needed. It's not a numbing tool, nor is it an anxiety provoker. It's not oxygen.
I enjoyed spaciousness and downtime. This is a new arena for me in my own life and something I have struggled with for most of my life. Having white space on the calendar used to totally freak me out, now, Sundays it is rare that I even leave the house or get out of my leggings and sweater. There became a sense of coming home and not having digital noise to jump into on the couch or bed (i.e. scrolling through my feed), allowed for so much rest and juicy downtime.
I got shit done. Again, I can't really make the case for correlation here, but I got some key personal projects done in November, including a massive reorg and purge of my clothing. I also got a lot of reading done, and came back to my morning practices. I stuck to my action planning and it felt good to wrap up the month feeling successful. I also stayed up on my chores and errands.
I found magic in my moments. Without the need for status updates and sharing of pics, I loved living in every moment with beginner's mind. I enjoyed moments for what they were and then cherished them as they passed. I don't have the need to document everything. The documentation is enjoying the moment fully and in the most present way possible.
I developed empathy in having my head up and eyes opened. I looked at the world more. Without having my eyes down on my screen, I enjoyed people watching, feeling my feet, and my breath. I enjoyed quiet time and gleaning sparks of inspiration for my writing. I was more present with my husband and the people I was with.
I stopped drowning in the black hole of comparison. This was one of the roots of my giving up social media in the first place. I was getting stuck in the comparison mindset, which does nobody any good, I promise. I got really clear that I have a beautiful, abundant, and quirky life and it's all my choice.
I got clear on what I really need. I ended the month feeling super clear on what brings me joy, what nourishes me, and how much gratitude I have for all the things. The good parts, the bad parts, and the messy bits. I also got clear on what matters and what doesn't and how boundaries are a really good thing and how sometimes, going cold turkey is the only way. I also have a new sense of self-compassion and listening to my own intuition. By really listening to my own internal needs, I show up as a better person in this complex world.
So what's next? Well, I am really reveling in this new sense of space. I may cut the cord completely, but who knows. I am still enjoying the process of discovery as I continue to exercise great caution and mindfulness in this arena. It's like learning a new language.
More to come...