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What our phones are doing to us

I started attending yoga classes recently for the simple fact that I sit at a computer a lot, and at the end of the day, my body feels like rigor mortis is setting in. I’ve never been very flexible and always thought if God intended for us to touch our toes, He would have put them on our knees, so I was really going out of my comfort zone trying an exercise that involves stretching. I’ll admit I was a little intimidated at first but in a short time, I’ve come to appreciate the value Yoga is adding to my life.

The Yoga studio has become a sanctuary of sorts, not only is it good for my body, it’s good for my soul. If I had to choose one word to describe my relatively new experience, it is Present. For forty-five minutes, I have learned to be fully present in the moment, aware of my body and surroundings. As I let the stress from the morning rush fall away with each movement, I begin to notice little things. I hear the steady sound of breathing. I see ripples in the pond outside the window. I feel the comradery of the women surrounding me as we connect over our common interest. Eliminating the distractions that steal my focus from the simply joys right in front of me is what I have grown to appreciate most.

It seems silly to make note that no one has their cell phone next to them on their yoga mat but it’s precisely a main reason why I enjoy that set time I’ve carved out of my day. For a moment here, can we all agree that cell phones have taken over our lives? They’ve rewired our brains to devalue face to face interaction while silently stealing precious time with our spouse and children. Like enemy forces invading streets and taking territory by force, these devices have entered our homes and now dictate the quality of our marriage and how we are living our lives.

A study done by UC Berkeley showed, “that just having a phone out and present during a conversation (say, on the table between you) interferes with your sense of connection to the other person, the closeness experienced, and the quality of conversation. You lose the opportunity for true and authentic connection to another person, the core tenet of any relationship. Those relationships who have conversations with no smartphones present are rated as significantly higher-quality. We feel more empathy when smartphones are put away. Ironically, cell phones originally designed as a communication tool, may actually hinder, rather than foster interpersonal connectedness.”

While we can’t escape the reality that cell phones are a part of life, we don’t have to let them control our lives. Taking the time to ask ourselves, “Has my cell phone become a major distraction from my life or has my life become a major distraction from my cell phone?” can help us prioritize what we value most. Like my yoga class, it’s going to be uncomfortable and require significant stretching, but the only way to be present and experience joy in marriage is to simply, “hang up and hang out”.

“You will show me the way of life, granting me the joy of your presence and the pleasures of living with you forever.” Psalm 16:11

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