Let’s slow it down. Take a breath. That email can wait. So can that text, and instagram message, and whatsapp message and messenger message and telegram message. It can all wait. The world can wait.
This has been my mantra for the past 4 months. Around the time that both my grandmas passed away, I came up with this mantra for myself. The world can wait until after I have had my cup of coffee in the morning. The world can wait until after I mediate before I answer the those emails. Just because technology moves fast, doesn’t mean that we have to. We have the power to slow it down. The choice is ours.
Around the same time, perhaps a few months before that, I decided to stop posting on instagram. My last post was on March 26th, 2019. I really enjoyed posting and sharing stories, but I found myself, almost everywhere I went, thinking “wow this would such a nice shot and oh this would be the coolest caption.” I began to realize that I kept ruining that moment for myself. I kept going into the future about what a nice instagram post this would be instead of just living in the moment. I realized that the cycle of taking the perfect picture and posting it and then seeing how many likes and views I got was like a tic, everywhere I went. I wanted to just experiment and see what would happen if I just stopped?
The human brain is incredible. The plasticity of our brains allows us to learn new things everyday. This means we can make lasting change in our lives, build new neurological connections and pathways. We have the power to do this everyday. So, I just told myself I would stop posting pictures for a while and just live in the moment.
At first, I caught myself thinking, while sitting by a stream on a hike for example, oh this would be such a nice shot of this little flower here. I would, by muscle memory, go for my phone, usually in my back pocket. Only then would I stop myself and put my phone back, reminding myself of my experiment. This would happen for a while. I don’t remember how long exactly.
Eventually, I would no longer think about instagram or facebook or posting photos. I no longer reached for my phone during those moments of beauty I found myself upon. I was living in the moment, really just being in the moment of whatever I was doing and where ever I was. Perhaps my brain made new connections and so I stopped reaching for my phone. And, when I realized this, which was a gradual process, I felt so liberated. I don’t really know liberated from what exactly, but perhaps just from the desire or need to share where I am and what I am doing.
Don’t take this the wrong way, I still look at instagram and this is the main way I keep in touch with my cousins and brother, perhaps even get the news. And I find so much inspiration from it, especially in the realm of yoga and food. It’s a wonderful tool. But like all tools, I think it depends on how you use it. I still find myself some days checking it so many times, too many times. It is so addictive. So, for me, like life in general, it is all about balance.
|Not Instagrammed: Interesting Swamp Scene on hike. Azusa, CA May 2019|
And, since we are talking about building new good habits and establishing routines, I have begun a new morning and bedtime routine about 2 months ago. It’s not really new, since I had done it before, though I would fall out of the routine and jump back in, so it wasn’t as consistent, but it has been pretty consistent the last 2 months, and I have felt such an improvement in my days and in my nights.
During the morning, the first thing I do is have my coffee. I take the time to grind beans so it’s fresh and boil the water with a fast boiler. I use the pour over method, which I have been for years and absolutely love. Coffee for me, is a non-negotiable. It wakes me up and makes me happy. I sip my coffee on the sofa, enjoy the view of green mountains, and that is it. I try not to think of anything or think about my day yet, I just focus on sipping my coffee, smelling it and waking up, slowly. Sometimes, if I’m lucky, Bodhi will hop onto my lap and cuddle with me for a bit.
When I was working at the farm, I would take the first few sips like this, and then, for the sake of time, I would hop onto my yoga mat and do a few morning poses, cow and cat, a few lunges, forward folds, some sun salutations, and in between poses, I would continue sipping my coffee. I would feel so energized getting my body moving and the energy flowing in a positive way first thing in the morning after hours of sleep. Then I would hop over to the computer room where I have a chair by the window. I have to sit here to get internet reception on my phone so that I can hear my headspace app for meditation. At first, I was annoyed at this, the fact that I couldn’t just meditate on my yoga mat, but then I found the chair quite comfortable for meditation and the view beautiful as well, so it all worked out. I do 10 mins usually, but sometimes, if I’m pressed for time, I’ll do 5 mins. This part of my morning is so important. I feel like meditation sets the tone for my day, one of clarity and positivity. It also gives me a moment to practice gratitude and that also makes me feel so good and gives such perspective on life.
After that, I do all my bathroom business and get dressed then I’m out the door. The main point that has helped a lot has been that I do not look at my phone or other electronics for the first few hours of my morning. I used to sip my coffee while I scrolled through emails on my phone/ looked at instagram, and though it took me a while, I began to notice that this really exhausted me. I suppose it was just information overload. And, frankly, mostly information I did not need. It’s also perhaps a luxury of my job. The lettuces and leeks wouldn’t be emailing me, I just knew I had to get down to them ;)
|Not Instagrammed: Beautiful CA Buckwheat on trail. Azusa, CA May 2019|
After a month, I began noticing the difference. I felt so much more energy in the morning and had such clarity and focus throughout the day. My mind felt less cluttered with stories that didn’t serve me. Some mornings, like Saturday mornings, I’ll sip my coffee, do some yoga and look at instagram because it’s fun and I do enjoy it. Or, I'll sip my coffee and scroll through before yoga and meditation. But, that's more like a treat.
For my evening routine, I also eliminate all electronics at least 1 hour before bed, 2 hours is better though. I don’t look at my phone or the computer. Sometimes, if we watch a movie or show, then I make an exception, but this is rare so it’s ok. The other night I happened to look at my phone because I had gotten a text which usually doesn’t happen, but it did and then I got sucked into some instagram perhaps or something on the phone and had to pull myself out of it. I noticed that night I did not fall asleep as well. I try to be in bed by 9 or 9:30pm though, this week I've been closer to 9pm which has been great. Most of the time I am successful since my body naturally gets tired around then. I like to read a few words from whatever books I’m reading next to my corner of the bed and then fall asleep.
Together, these routines of starting and ending the day have improved my functioning and feeling during the day. I feel like I’m functioning more optimally by keeping to these electronic boundaries for myself.
|Not Instagrammed: Sage Blossoms. Azusa, CA May 2019|
The world can wait. It really can. I think we keep trying to keep up with the pace of the world, and it’s just not humanely possible and we get swept away by all this stuff we don’t need, dampening and dulling our own personal creative spirits and thoughts, while perhaps even straining our adrenal glands.
I have learned in these past few months not to be pressured by responding to emails and texts and all that messaging stuff right away. Back then, when snail mail or telegrams were the only way to communicate, information took time to get to you and you had time to reflect and write something meaningful back. I love that we have email and that it keeps us so connected and makes life so efficient in many ways, but it also hinders our abilities to take time and reflect, since it's so easy to just respond right away.
Time. Time is ours and time is precious. Don’t let these superficial pressures of responding right away get the most of your time. Look up, look outside, gaze at the stars or sunset once in a while rather than your phone. Take time to be with your people, to smell the flowers, sages, and buckwheats, together. See how you feel afterwards.
People can wait and if they can’t, they can learn. They will live if you don’t answer them right away. Try it! I promise it’ll be ok if you don’t respond right away. So, for September (and beyond) let's slow down and savor life.
*photos by me.