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Digital Fast - Week 2

In this week's blog, I'll cover the results and analysis of my one week digital fast.

To review, my digital fast consisted of not using my computer, phone, or TV for anything other than work obligations. For example, I would not pull out my phone to check the news while bored in line at the grocery store, but I would use my computer to write an email such as this one, and then, upon completion of the message, exit the device.   

Some observations:

1. I really felt the situations in which I would habitually pull out my phone. When I did the dishes, for example, the urge to take out my cell phone and put on Youtube or a podcast was powerful. 

Another example is when I would feel stress, especially any stress or uncomfortable emotions involving the people I live with--the urge to take out my phone and escape was palpable. 

2. I likely produced slightly more at work, but the quality of the work and my satisfaction with it was much higher. I believe that this increase in quality and personal satisfaction is due to having a more singular focus while working. In other words, I wouldn't allow myself to listen to music or a podcast while doing another task.

3. The most important things we have to deal with may also be the most obvious. Constantly distracting ourselves with technology and other activity often stops us from realizing the obvious. The obvious can appear as a revelation. 

I'd like to give some examples of this phenomenon from last week's digital fast, but also my experience and the experience of a friend while meditating. We'll start with my friend.

D was constantly listening to hardcore punk rock and metal. He had a playlist of thousands of songs, and every time I would visit him, he had it on in the background. It never stopped.

One day, I showed him some meditation techniques. A few weeks after that I came over to his house. His eyes were wide when he opened the door. He said, "Dude, I just realized I listen to incredibly brutal music all day long, every day."

He couldn't actually hear the music around him until he started to meditate. The music was normal. Then, after spending ten minutes in silence, he heard it. He woke up to what he was doing to himself.

I had a similar experience meditating with a group. It was a one hour meditation. Two twenty minute sessions where you would sit, and one twenty minute walking meditation. I spent this time in meditation unable to relax as I was feeling incredible back and neck pain.

The truth is that I had been feeling that pain for weeks, if not months, but had been so good at distracting myself away from it that it had become imperceptible. Also, whatever is constant becomes normal, becomes your baseline. It isn't until you stop distracting yourself and just sit that your baseline, the background of your life, becomes foreground, and you can see it for what it is. 

A final example: my wife did last week's digital fast with me. After a few days, she began to notice that her body reacted negatively to eating certain foods. Also, it didn't like when she would eat too much, or eat and drink at the same time. 

I have much more to write about this digital fast, but I think I will end this week's email on this final thought. 

The value of the digital fast is in seeing what is already there. Your baseline, your background. What is so normal that it is no longer recognized.

Let the background become foreground. Maybe what you need to deal with is right under your nose. 

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