One thing we've learned about the brain over the last 15 years is that it can form new neural connections throughout the lifespan. This is called neuroplasticity, you may have heard of it. Neuroplasticity occurs when we practice and repeat doing things and eventually it just become automatic, like a habit. We see this in walking, talking, learning new car routes, playing an instrument or even meditation. When it comes to the enormous repetition of a constant connection to our technology, you have to assume -- or likely you've experienced -- that the brain is strengthening that habit, oftentimes with a stressful cost.
Technology is great, but we're just infants with it and we have to begin evolving with a wiser relationship.
Not too long ago, humans had many uninterrupted spaces in their lives. If you were sitting at lunch with a friend, the focus was on the conversation, and there weren't many things that would intrude. Now the brain has rewired to constantly monitor beneath your awareness any incoming messages and, if there is a sign of one, a knee-jerk reaction occurs to check it.
Sherry Turkle, from MIT and author of Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other, has been studying this for decades. She talks about the need to create sacred spaces that are technology-free zones, especially at the dinner table. This reminds me of a past research study I did on cultivating sacred moments and how I found that to be directly correlated to stress reduction and happiness.
Where are your sacred spaces? Do you have any? When do you get a chance to disconnect and "be with" yourself or whoever is with you?
What would be different if you had more sacred space in your life? Would you have more time to attune and be intimate with yourself or with your friends, family or colleagues?
You might argue that you are connected to more people because of technology, but we have to look at the qualitative difference between connection and intimacy. We can all be incredibly connected, but sometimes shallow waters are noisy and lack depth. Intimacy, on the other hand, is deep and it's important to continue intentionally bringing this into our lives.
Technology is wonderful -- I'm a big advocate of its strengths. At the same time, we're just in the courting stages with it, feeling it out and learning what the best way to relate to it is. In doing this, we can develop greater "screen sense."
Let yourself experiment with having sacred spaces with yourself and in relationships.
See what you notice.
As always, please share your thoughts, stories and questions below. Your interaction creates a living wisdom for us all to benefit from.
for more by Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D., click here.
For more on unplugging and recharging, click here.