Yesterday my phone disappeared. It was there one minute and gone the next. The whereabouts of my phone remain a mystery but over the course of the day I became aware of a few things, including my attachment to it and the ways I have adapted (or regressed) since I started relying on my phone for its various functions.
Vairagya is a yoga practice of non attachment. We can become reliant on many things, some physical and tangible, others abstract and emotional. We can get attached to another person, to an idea or belief, or to something like a very smart brick of plastic. My reaction to losing the ability to use my phone was strong. I immediately felt disconnected from all around me. I had thoughts running through my head like, “How will I call this person? How will I look this up? How will I get directions to there?” I felt helpless. Then I took a step back, remembered the word VAIRAGYA and started judging myself for being attached to this thing! Then I took another step back and saw the shortsightedness in both of those thoughts. To shame oneself for being attached is as much of an issue as the attachment itself.
So I started rewinding. Remembering, how did we all get along without a device like this? Piecing this together was a valuable lesson in presence, intention and patience. As a society we are so accustomed to the immediacy of everything: communication, acquisition of information. We don’t have to plan much ahead of time because our phones in any instant can get us directions, find a coffee shop, call our friends to meet up on a whim. We also get used to being available at almost any moment to respond to a call, text or e-mail, and when we aren’t available we feel some need to apologize for that, I did at least.
Losing the device was not only a loss of convenience but a loss of a line to my social universe. Our phones act as a rope between us and everyone we know. And having that taken away, not having the option to contact anyone at any time, is an adjustment. I realized how very many things I take for granted because of my phone.
I have now been over twenty-four hours without a phone and feel a real sense of calm. Finally, I settled into a place where I see that my phone is helpful and a source of convenience, it is not necessary, as long as others have another way of communicating with me.
That said, I am getting a replacement phone soon, but will use it differently. I encourage you to take a full 24 hours without your phone. On a day off, let your friends know you will be without your phone, and see what you come to realize about your dependence on that thing. Plan a trip without it, write down directions or use a map. Detach from your phone and your reliance on it.