October 11, 2012

You Get The Picture: Step back from the devices, sort out your vices

By Magen McCrarey
Staff Writer

LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. — There are times when climbing the highest mountain peak in Argentinean Patagonia just to watch all of the electronics I own tumble into oblivion sounds like the best idea ever.  

My phone buzzes frequently with random messages, emails, updates and Facebook notifications.  My computer is needier than a 2-year-old at Toys “R” Us. The television in my household is blaring presidential news non-stop.  Technology has not only enhanced my workload, but substantially increased my stress levels.

A vacation to me is not a day sunning on the beach or at an amusement park, but time away from the every day interruptions to meditate.  I’m not talking about yogic meditation or a therapy program but a moment to grab a cup of coffee to sit alone with my thoughts.  According to research, Transcendental Meditation is the most effective and popular self-development procedure practiced 20 minutes twice a day sitting comfortably with eyes closed.  That just sounds like a nap to me.

I tried meditating the other day to sit alone with my pacing thoughts, plans and future hopes, and I was amazed at how relieved I felt during the process.  Because I am a writer, I meditate best with a blank notebook and I begin to jot down my most inner feelings.  It’s a far cry from a teenage rant, but a book filled to the brim with bright ideas, changes I need to make to my mundane schedule, and suggestions on how to express to others how much they mean to my existence.  

While my pen scribbled wildly, I was sure to cherish the moment — until my phone rang.  Followed by a voicemail, and then a text message.  Meanwhile, in the adjacent room someone began blaring music accompanied by a banjo.  For goodness sakes, why a banjo?!  I waved my forlorn white flag in the air at the fleeting moment of silence, glumly cursing technology.

Admittedly I take my phone everywhere. It’s beside my head at night, and on the bathroom sink in the morning as I brush my teeth.  It never leaves my sight like a child, and I definitely treat my Macbook Pro like one.  Technology is a wonderful thing for productivity and helping one more forward in the world, but it comes with a price.  Not only a very noisy price but a stressful one.  

If you’re ever wondering how your life ever became as busy as it is at the moment, just take a look at the idol in your hand that you give all of your undivided attention to.  If you’re offering more time to your phone or computer than your own thoughts, family or significant other, you may need to take a step back from the devices and sort out your vices.