12 Tips to Stay Mindful When Using Your Phone or Other Devices
We’re living in the digital device era. The speed at which digital device usage has spread is phenomenal. Many of us are spending hours each day using digital devices – usually looking at screens.
When you use digital devices consciously, you’ll be at peace with them, and enjoy the benefits they have to offer. You’ll also use them skilfully, with kindness, interacting harmoniously with the world.
Here are a few pointers I’d like to offer you. If you take these on boards you can turn your hours of digital device usage into an opportunity for mindfulness practice…
- Only access content and enable notifications that are really needed. When you’re accessing content that you really need, you’ll be better placed to stay mindful. If you access content that you don’t need, it’s highly likely that you’ll get lost in thoughts emotions. Consciously decide what content you are going to access on your device. Also, take responsibility for notifications. Only configure notifications and real time updates if you feel they are really needed. Otherwise, let go of the distractions, and choose when to access things. The more notifications you react to, the less you will be in control of your state of mind when you access their content.
- Avoid content that you know triggers negative reactions. If there is certain content that you know is going to push your buttons, triggering you to become lost in your thoughts and emotions, then avoid it. Otherwise, you are casuing yourself harm. You wouldn’t put your hand in a fire. In the same way, don’t compromise your energy or alignment by exposing yourself to difficult content. This may mean avoiding certain web sites, TV shows or social media streams. Social media can be particularly challenging for people in this respect. If content from somebody or an organization is causing you to react negatively, then mute or remove the feed. It is sometimes kinder to mute feeds from people you find difficult rather than disconnecting from them altogether. It keeps the communication open with the option of re-engaging later when it’s more appropriate.
- If possible, ensure that you have good quality digital devices. Especially if you spend a lot of time on them. For example, it’s going to be much easier to stay mindful if you’re working on a laptop that’s fast and easy to use. Rather than one that is sluggish and complex. When technology seems to be working against you, it’s even more challenging to stay mindful.
- Configure your devices and make them easier to use. There’s a correlation between simplicity and being mindful. There’s lots you can do including remove unwanted apps and icons, and freeing up space to help make the device go faster. Even detail such as configuring menus and shortcuts that suit your usage will make life simpler. If you don’t know how, then ask somebody technical for support. A friend or store assistance might be able to help.
- Keep some awareness on your breath or bodily sensations. This is a de facto technique used to become mindful or retain mindfulness. You can do this when using your devices.
- Be aware of thoughts and feelings. If you’re able to, observe your thoughts and feelings whilst using the device. This will keep you aware and present. If you catch your thoughts turning negative, or you experience unpleasant feelings, stop using the device for a moment. Review what you’re experiencing or communicating and check it’s the right thing. For your information, meditation is a good way of training yourself to become more aware of thoughts and feelings if you find this difficult.
- Monitor internal resistance. If you catch yourself resisting something as you use your device, then something needs to change. You either need to bring acceptance to whatever content you’re involved in or move away from the content altogether. When you’re aligned, your device usage will be peaceful or enjoyable.
- Be aware of the space between you and the screen. For devices with screens, which are most of them, there’s a space between your eyes and the screen. Be aware of that space at the same time as you’re looking at the screen. Awareness of space helps you stay mindful.
- Take breaks from using your device. Briefly look away from your screen every couple of minutes. Look at something else in your environment. Something natural like a plant or the sky if possible. Every twenty minutes or so, have a break to do something physical. Even if it’s a quick stand up or stretch. This will refresh you and keep you alert. It’s far more challenging to stay mindful when you’re tired.
- Regularly change the device environment. Change your background or screen saver on a regular basis. Or rearrange things in a different and more optimal way. This will keep your digital experience fresh. Changes in what we see and experience can help us to stay mindful.
- Be kind to your body during device usage. When the body is comfortable it’s far easier to stay mindful. Also, stay safe. Devices should only be used when it’s safe to do so. High risks activities like texting whilst driving or crossing a busy road should be avoided. People end up getting prosecuted, injured or losing their lives in the process. Many people use devices unsafely and believe they are free from the consequences. There are always consequences in being unsafe. Even if the mind doesn’t understand that device usage is risky, the body will always respond by creating stress. When you are using your device in a dangerous situation it’s highly likely that you are not mindful at the time. This means that your usage will be unskillful and harmful. It really does make sense to use your devices only when it is safe to do so.
- Communicate selectively, truthfully, and skilfully during usage. Skilful communication and mindfulness go hand-in-hand. If you’re communicating skilfully, you’re mindful. And when you’re mindful, you will communicate skilfully.