I have an internet addiction. So, the first step is admitting it right?
Problem is, I’ve admitted it many times before, but that alone hasn’t done much. Because changing habits takes conscious effort after the step of awareness. Like my running plan, I need to come up with a concrete program to follow, complete with a declaration and rewards. The internet definitely is not bad, and in fact it has been incredibly useful for tons of things, like reading about barefooting before buying my Vibram shoes… oh no, wait, that was probably time wasted. Because although now I feel like I know more about the benefits of barefooting, when my dad questioned me about the lack of arch support, I mumbled something about a New York Times article I had read about how shoes are ruining our feet, without actually knowing anything concrete about the matter. (And now, I spent ten minutes searching for the article and getting side tracked…. while writing about the evils of internet distractions… yes, it’s really time to set up a plan.)
On first thought, I had resistance to embarking upon a new challenge now since I’m leaving for my Europe backpacking trip in just a week. However, I think it’s actually worked out perfectly, because I have a much easier time following guidelines if it’s for a specific, predetermined amount of time. In this case it’s even better than that because I really can’t afford to waste time online in the next week as I tie up lose ends and prepare to leave.
So, what’s the challenge? I actually had an easy enough time doing a “digital detox” a month or two ago, but like most people, I can’t afford to completely cut the cord so close to my trip. I just felt my fingers itch to open up a tab and type “overcoming internet addiction” to find an idea. I’m so hard-wired to search online for everything now that I’m probably losing my creativity and capacity to think and read… so good, all the more reason to not to anything else, especially not online, until I come up with a challenge by myself, for myself.
I, Elizabeth Cooper, will practice mindfulness online during the next seven days by using a notebook to write down every task I am doing online, and only do that task. If I feel distracted (like I need to follow that link to that cool site to download that awesome podcast, for example) I will simply note, on paper, the desire, and come back to it in the future during a predetermined online “play time.” I will allow myself only a half hour of “play time” online each day for the next week – less if possible. This will include superfluous email, Facebook, blog reading, and surfing. Superfluous will be defined as anything not related to a specific task/question. I will use this method both at work and at home.
Connection has kept coming up as something I’d like to create more of in my life – connection to life, spirit, others, self – and I have found that for me, that feeling of connection does not come from being online. In fact, being online drains me. Except right now, as I’m mindfully being online, completing this one task, using my brain to connect with my own thoughts, and hopefully others once this is posted.
To support myself in my intention of staying connected and calm this next week, I will renew my seven day meditation vow for the Hardcore Dharma Course:
I, Elizabeth Cooper, with confidence in the benefits of a regular practice of sitting meditation, do hereby commit, for myself and no one else, to practicing at least one session of sitting meditation, for as short or as long a period of time as I am willing and able, for each of the next seven days.
The homework and discussion about not multitasking, training our minds post-meditation, has been part of the inspiration for this post, as a reminder of what I already know. The folks taking the course over at the Interdpendence Project in New York just finished up about an hour and a half ago and some of them are probably hanging out right now. If you’re a Hardcore Dharma student, hi there! Can’t wait to listen to this week’s class. Which reminds me, I should go do the reading… (writing it down as my next task)…