My favorite part about Innovation is how better our lives have become. Think about it; 40 years ago, the ability to travel as quickly as we can to other countries and experience a new culture was almost impossible.
Or 20 years ago, having the ability to use what we now take for granted called the "Internet" to read articles, such as the one you are reading. Or even the advent of the iPhone, which 70 percent of traffic for this article is coming from.
We can all agree that technology is a beautiful thing, but at times, I am weary of the necessity, and the impact that technology has on our health, and even our ability to become personable.
I have noticed how reliant I am of my iPhone. On a daily basis, I receive approximately nine iMessages, three phone calls, 110 emails, 17 Facebook notifications and 30 tweets. Even worse, when my phone dies, I feel this urge of pain when I can't use it to call an Uber, or order something off of Instacart or Caviar.
In other words, technology and more importantly, my cell phone, rules me.
A few successful entrepreneurs have mentioned how successful going without your phone can be such as Jack Dorsey, CEO of Twitter and Square, and Arianna Huffington, the founder of the Huffington Post. Both of these powerhouse entrepreneurs take the time to disconnect.
Last week, I attended a meditation through the guidance of my spiritual leader Kamlesh Pate, through Sahaj Marg, and went on a three-day binge to dive deeper into myself, but leaving one thing I always rely on at home; my phone.
Here are the things I noticed along the way, and some lessons that can be taken back from my experience moving forward.
1. Phone withdrawal symptoms are real
I use my phone for everything. From waking up, to even receiving my news. The first thing I realized was I was so reliant on the phone that I had to buy an alarm clock, and get a paper version of the Wall Street Journal.
On Day 1, it was odd waking up and not having my phone next to me, which I usually use to turn off my alarm, and look through all my notifications from the night before.
After arriving at the Ashram, I noticed that my phone withdrawal was starting. Every 5 minutes or so, I would have this impulse to check my phone, especially when I noticed others checking there phones as well. I even had moments where I would reach down into my pocket, to the usual phone, but catch myself.
2. My surroundings became noticeable
One of the major issues with technology is how distracted we become with it. For the first time, I didn't realize how much around me has changed.
One of the most prominent things I noticed were new members of our meditation group, who are learning to meditate for the first time. And most importantly, I realized how much I had missed out on in the world around me. Even after day 1, where I was dying to use my phone again, I was still curious about how much around me has changed, and what I can do to recognize that change.
3. My relationships grew deeper
One of the worst parts about technology is it does help us stay in touch, but it also keeps us extremely distant from others. Without my phone, I realized that I didn't have the passion for connecting with others on a deeper level.
Everyone in the Ashram had a common interest; to meditate.
Luckily, not having my phone allowed me to connect with them on a deeper level. For example, I began having discussions about Heartfulness, and the approaches that I would take in my practice, in comparison to how others fit in meditation in their busy lives. These are discussions I would have missed had I stayed plugged to the "outer world".
I realized for the first time, my passion for connecting with others on a deeper level, was being contradicted with my phone in a loving centric conducive atmosphere.
I learned to have conversations from the heart, and come from a place of love, versus thinking about who commented on my Instagram picture, and diving into relationships on twitter.
4. As a society, we are moving away from the beauty of silence and calling it "awkward silence"
Growing up, I would constantly hear people say that there is an "awkward silence" whenever no one was saying anything.
I feel that as a society, we should look at awkward silences and consider them as blessings.
Especially when there are millions of notifications and distractions for people, silence is becoming more and more scarce as technology invades our lives. This becomes more and more apparent when I go to India, or even live in Boston, versus when I visit my parents in Richmond. The difference between India and Boston versus Richmond is the lack of sirens, or honking that invades our lives.
This is where the problem lies, and can easily be related back to notifications on your smartphones. They are invading your life, if misused.
5. Everyone doesn't "need" an answer now
One of my biggest realizations and take away that I have had from this experience is that it is important to give time to others, but more importantly, every tweet, post, pin, email, message, and even phone call does not need to be taken care of right away.
In other words, learn to relax, and see life through the lens of spontaneity.
6. Should spaces that are meant to connect, encourage cell phones?
Sure, my phone is something I can't live without. One day, with the improved technology and advent of artificial intelligence, we will be able to communicate with each other not just with our cell phones, but just by inserting a chip in our heads that allow us to communicate with one another.
More importantly, should you allow yourself to get invovled with others while you are at a place, such as an Ashram, to escape and better yourself?
My three days was a struggle, but something that I think everyone in the professional world should experience. Not only to feel grateful for the power that technology has on all of us, but to appreciate the importance of being present.
For many of us, doing even three days may seem impossible. I challenge you to take a step back and analyze your priorities and what you value in your life. Start with letting go of your phone for ½ a day, or even having designated places in your home that should be focused on connecting on a human level, versus connecting on the web.
Where will you leave your phone?