Digital Detox: Strike a Balanced Relationship with Technology.
Last year, when I was diagnosed with cancer, it helped me make changes in my life that up until that point I was not able to do.
My belief was that part of the reason cancer manifested in my body was to show me that I was out of balance, and that If I wanted to have a chance at healing, I needed to live as healthy as I could in all facets of my life. Once diagnosed, I changed my diet and began letting go of rigid ways of being that I had developed over the years.
On November 26th, I found out that I’m now cancer-free, and since then my aim has been to continue to integrate the new ways of being I became aware of last year when I dove deep into my consciousness through meditation, visualization, psychedelics, and a change in diet.
A big piece of the insights I received during that time, was that in order to create a fully balanced life, it would also be important for me to adjust my relationship to the digital world, which is not a balanced one.
We live in a time filled with many beautiful technological advancements, an era where a click of a button can connect us with virtually anyone in the world. As a result, the digital realm has become the bedrock of our society, and our focus is often buried in a screen, rather than with a person next to us.
As I observe our collective relationship to technology and how it distracts us, I can’t help but think that our level of integration with this knowledge is at an adolescent stage of development.
Sure, there are plenty of people who have managed to strike a balanced relationship with technology, but there are plenty of us whose relationship to technology is more similar to crack, than anything resembling a state of balance.
Though sometimes I dream about ditching all digital devices to live a life in the mountains, I like what technology creates in my life, and I’m not at all suggesting we go back to living like our ancestors did in the stone-age… so I would like to create a peaceful and balanced relationship between the organic and digital worlds.
Our relationship to technology and the digital realm reminds me of the relationship many of us have with our brain. Most of the time our thoughts are racing all over the map, entertaining any stream of thought that enters our minds without being aware we are doing it until we are knees-deep in some limiting belief or self-defeating behavior.
Depending on which thoughts we listen to, our brains can drive us crazy; as waves of thought come into our consciousness, it’s essential for us to learn how to focus more on thoughts that serve us, and let go of the chatter of the monkey brain.
The brain is a beautiful and powerful tool that can help us achieve extraordinary states of consciousness if we can learn how to use it in a way that helps us, rather than allowing it to sabotage us. An excellent way to begin this journey is through a meditation practice.
The benefits of meditation are well-documented, and aside from its virtually endless benefits, one thing that stands out from my meditation practice, that relates directly to my intention of balancing my relationship with the digital world, is that it helped slow down my mind.
Also, my practice enabled me to entertain constructive and supportive thoughts more often. And I can do something similar with the digital realm. Instead of thinking I need to entertain every urge to check my phone or hop on the internet, I can pick and choose the times that I want to engage with that world.
Just like it’s not necessary to follow every thread of thought, it’s also not necessary to constantly stay connected to the fabric of the digital realm. In fact, in both cases, I believe it’s important to limit the engagement of both behaviors.
It’s great to look at limiting the time spent on the internet and the digital world, but when we are trying to quiet a habit that no longer serves us, it’s essential to replace it with a new one that empowers and excites us. What will you replace it with? Do you want to have more human contact? Do you want to learn how to play guitar? Is there something you’ve been putting off, but would love to do?
Instead of surfing the net, or watching a TV show or movie, perhaps you can fill this time with something creative. I’m not asking to give up watching all TV; I believe it’s important to carve out time for mindless entertainment, but do we need to watch that much TV? Do we need to be online as much as we currently are?
If we view technology as a tool to use in spurts, rather than being continuously connected to it, we can create a balance of enjoying the beauty of both worlds.
What has emerged out of my inquiry about this relationship is that a few weeks ago, I reached out to a friend about the topic, and we started meeting once a week to support each other in finding the balance.
Our goal of our two-person group is to support each other in this digital detox, while also supporting one another in replacing the old habit with something that inspires us. I am learning guitar, and diving deeper into my meditation practice.
Below is the program we are experimenting with so far. We will be adjusting it as we gather more information about what works best for us, and what does not.
1. Turn phone off 30 minutes after dinner.
2. Leave phone off in the morning until after morning meditation. (Or turn off mobile data for apps like Messenger and WhatsApp).
3. Once a week, ditch the phone and take a 60-minute walk by myself. Preferably in nature.
Obviously, not everybody will have the same idea about what they want their relationship with the digital world to be, what’s important is finding what works for you. We don’t need to seek anybody’s guidance about what is balanced for us; we simply have to tune into our inner compass.
Often our denial can be thick, but if we pay attention to what is going on inside of us, our bodies send us signals about when we are in and out of balance. There seems to be a movement of people around the world who desire to discover healthy ways of melding the analog and digital world, and I’m looking forward to connecting with others who are inspired by the topic.
I am already enjoying benefits of being more productive and feeling more peace, and I look forward to continuing to cultivate a balance that feels healthy for all facets of my being.
Scott Binder is a bestselling author, music producer, and DJ from Seattle, who has been living in Berlin, Germany for five years. Now that he’s cancer-free, he’s decided to coach others who are diagnosed with cancer to help them heal. Scott’s new book, “My Cancer Journey,” will be released in December.