I recently returned from a 5-day meditation retreat outside of Kyoto, Japan.
Meditation used to be a regular part of my life a few years ago, but has unfortunately taken a back-seat. Other things have occupied my time and meditating even for just 15 minutes simply became a chore.
However, I have felt an urge, almost a calling, to bring meditation back into my daily routine. My life used to be less stressful and much more balanced when I disconnected myself for 25 minutes every morning and evening. I wanted this back. I needed this back.
Off the Social Media Grid
In the past year I have been grateful for the role social media has played in my life. It has helped me to launch my business, connect with amazing thought leaders, and express my personal brand. It has become part and parcel of daily life – but perhaps too much.
Time I could have spent meditating or even just enjoying the present moment has been replaced with tweets, likes, comments, +1s, pins, etc. I can’t even imagine how many times I pull my iPhone out of my pocket throughout the day to check my twitter feed, scan through my Facebook page, or see who has viewed my LinkedIn profile.
So in early July I decided it was time to get off the grid, meditate, and just stay away from anything and everything having to do with social media and blogging.
Those Darn Shiny Addictive Apps!
Getting back into meditation the first couple days was hard as my legs and back ached. Each 25 minute sitting seemed like an eternity. As hard as this was, it was even harder to resist the temptation to dig my iPhone out of my backpack and click on the little shiny blue ‘f‘, ‘t‘, and ‘in‘ apps beckoning me. Or open my WordPress dashboard to check my site stats. Or click on my Mailchimp app to see if any new subscribers joined my list. Or… You get the idea!
As I sat on my meditation cushion, I finally realized just how much control social media has over me. I wondered, “Am I a social media addict?” “Should I be sitting in a 12-step meeting rather than a Zen center?” I was off the grid, but man I wanted to jump right back on the grid!
A Different Kind of ‘Tweet’
Over the next few days the pain in my legs lessened. My breathing became deeper and I felt a tad bit more centered – just a tad!
I also discovered some new ‘tweets’, but not from the twitter-sphere. These tweets came from the birds outside my window, the cicada in the trees, and the old floorboards in the zen center. I could also still ‘connect’, but not on LinkedIn or Facebook. My new connection was with my inner self and the energy of my fellow meditators.
I eventually made it all 5 days without touching that iPhone, and while the ‘detox’ was hard I realized I could survive just fine! Heck, I made it through 40 years of my life without social media so of course I should have been able to do it for 5 short days!
Creating Healthy Habits
On the train ride back home I finally did touch those shiny blue apps and saw an update from my friend Ameena Falchetto telling her community that she was embarking on a ‘social media blackout’ for one full month. Five days was hard enough for me and here was Ameena going off the grid for thirty days. BRAVO!
While I did not achieve any enlightenment in my 5-days of meditating, I was certainly enlightened to see Ameena do this. She even took it one step further than I did and actually deleted those darn shiny apps from her phone!
Ameena said she was “blacking out to create new habits.” I absolutely love this.
My desire to disappear for 5-days was to create a healthy habit of meditating again. A habit that was once crucial to my sanity. I also discovered that I can develop a much healthier way to use social media too. My new habit: Instead of reaching for my iPhone first thing in the morning I will reach for my meditation cushion to sit, breathe, and listen to the tweets of real life around me.
Have you created a healthy way of using social media? Share your healthy social media habits below.
Peter Sterlacci, Founder of BeYB – Believe. Become. Be Your Brand, combines personal branding strategy with cycling imagery to empower on-the-move careerists in global companies in Japan to shift gears, get out of the saddle, and sprint to career success.