Look up when you are walking down the street instead of into your phone. The world is not in there, but is instead all around you, and we are so busy looking down we forget to look up, around, and more importantly, inward. After a 10-day detox from any form of technology, leaving both my phones and computers at home as I headed off to India, I have started to look at things differently. This awareness started two months ago, but it hit me pretty hard the past 10 days, and it all started the second I jumped into the cab on the way to the airport.
I don't know about the general public, but I know that I jump into a cab and instantly jump onto my phone. Whether I'm texting, sifting through emails or calling friends, I'm never just sitting looking at the world go by. This time, I had no choice. The thing about "cutting yourself off" from any addictive device is that it creates a shift in energy. You are no longer feeding off of this platform, so your energy is shifted. I found that the second I made a conscious decision to abandon my phones at home, I was coming across as a different person. The cab driver started talking to me and we got into this beautiful discussion about how he thought every person had a little angel inside them that sometimes requires disconnecting yourself from your comfort zone to a foreign place for it to come out. This poignant conversation with a stranger made me realize that my journey was happening way before India -- that beauty can come from anywhere or anyone, you just have to be open to it.
India was completely a culture shock as well as being absolutely stunning, and reminded me of things I either completely forgot about myself or didn't even know existed. We spent our first day in Delhi, exploring different temples with our wonderful guide, making homemade dosa and eating a lot of curry. Then we made our way to the south of India to Kerala, as they call "God's country," and then we were off to stay on a houseboat and then landed in the backwaters of Fort Kochi. We rode bikes through town, waving at young students who screamed, "What's your name?" with excitement; we swam, we meditated and we did yoga for hours a day. After three years of living in New York City, I forgot how much I loved the outdoors. Even more importantly, when the sun was setting or a beautiful blue exotic bird landed on the chair next to me, I wasn't so engulfed in my phone taking a picture of the experience to see how many people liked it, instead I was embracing it.
For the first time in my life, I was not reactive. I was reflective. I wasn't calling my best friends or Tweeting about the bird next to me, I was able to actually listen to the real live bird tweet. We live in a world where instant gratification and validation makes us feel like that is the only way our moments are worthy and yet, if we just lived in the moment and absorbed, embraced and THEN reflected before sharing, we would be able to evaluate what that meaning meant to us before we saw what it was interpreted as by everyone else.
Would I love to just pick up and travel the world, phoneless, with no responsibilities, embracing every moment? Who wouldn't? But I have responsibilities, bills, a life that requires me to work hard (which I love) and stay focused; but I had to recognize that is just one part of my life. You can have your "Indian vacation" whenever you choose. When you decide to wake up three hours before work and take that time for you instead of rushing, when you go home early and read instead of having that extra drink, when you reflect on what you feel before sharing it to the world, you are living that life of luxury, and finding that vacation inside yourself.
On my way home from India, after 22 hours of flying, going straight into the office, my cab driver and I started chatting. He was from Delhi so we started bonding over my experience, and the last thing he said to me was, "We were given two eyes to see double, two ears to hear double, two hands to make double, but we were given one mouth to say half of what we see, hear and save half as much as we make." When both eyes, ears and mouth are chained to your smartphone, you can't see, hear or appreciate the world around you. It is your choice to live a conscious life because at the end of the day you are the only one that can make that choice whether or not anyone chooses to "Like" it or "retweet" it.
Sometimes it takes disconnecting to connect to the people and world around you, and more importantly, yourself. Don't be afraid to look up and in, beauty is everywhere.
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For more on unplugging and recharging, click here.