A Month Without a Cell Phone, Car, or Computer; Unplugged!

Ahhh, what a glorious month indeed!  There were certainly a few times when a phone could have been useful or I wanted to write my heart out using a keyboard instead of scribing away with pen in hand, however, overall, it really seemed like an ideal way to live.  Granted, I thoroughly enjoy communicating with friends and family who don’t live in close physical proximity to me, and I also really enjoy communicating ideas via this medium, but other than that – I felt a peace and freedom to be in the present moment and open up to whatever opportunity the universe wanted to send my way.

Being that this great experiment took place over 30 days, there were a ton of experiences and lots of insight, and likely I’ll be flushing out the abundance of goodness that flowed this way over several posts.  For now, I’ll stick to strictly emulating Leo Babuata’s format on zenhabits.net he used to reflect on his month without TV and video.

Here are some findings after a month of no cell phone, car, or computer:

  • The pursuit of holiness is always realized and fulfilled in the present moment.  In no other than time than NOW, Here & Now :-), can one practice holiness.  And, what is holiness?  Well, thinking about it for a split second, I think holy actions and speech create an awareness of the Present Moment, which is always good (or as Thich Nhat Hanh likes to say, “Breathing in, I know I’m in the Present Moment.  Breathing out, I know that it is a Wonderful Moment.”)
  • Meditating in public is a great service to the community.  If nothing else, the meditator represents someone living in the present moment, and by witnessing the meditator the witness can be drawn into the present moment as well.  For me, it’s hard not to smile and / or get excited when I see someone practicing meditation or some other peaceful way of being like Tai Chi.  One Monday I passed by a group of four people practicing Tai Chi outside and suddenly felt a flood of peace and joy rush through the system.  Not to mention, everyone walking by turned to look at the Tai Chi’stas as well.  Radiating Peace!
  • Walking backwards, dancing, chanting, admiring leaves, freezing (like miming), hugging a tree, or walking very slowly (mindfully), are also incredible ways to serve.  Essentially, they are all simple ways to enjoy the present moment, and by you enjoying the present moment in a simple way, you empower and liberate more people to do the same.  It’s the gift that keeps on giving!  At the very least, you are making people think, and thinking can only be done in the present 🙂  Like they say out in Vegas, “You must be present to win!”
  • If you want to “Walk spiritually,”  as Paul talks about in the Bible, there is more than one way to do it, as far as I believe.  One way to do is consciously breathing and smiling. Another, going very slowly, aware of each step.  Another, think of something you’re grateful for with every step.  And yet another, sing or chant while you walk 🙂  “Walking spiritually” was something I realized as an ideal yet thought it could only be done by walking very slowly.  Like Thich Nhat Hanh says, “Breathe, smile, and go slowly.”  However, after some trial & error, I decided that chanting and walking is also spiritual, as is consciously breathing in and out through the nose, synchronized with each step.  Just so long as you are aware 🙂  Live consciously for the win!
  • It’s amazing how easy it is to meet people without a phone.  I felt like the universe constantly lined me up with whoever I was supposed to meet.  Timing seemed Divine with the way I flowed through the day, bumping into friends as well as meeting new friends.  Actually, a lot of people spontaneously opened me just saying things like, “Hi!  I see you around all the time but we’ve never met.”  As much as many of us might be attached to our phones and take pride in our ability to text and walk and shut out the world, I think we also hold a respect for those who we never see using technology, continuously present, and some of that respect is what I felt like I received a lot of towards the end of the experience.
  • Accountability is huge!  I found that my behavior was almost always improved by being in the presence of people.  In particular, with practicing mindful eating, I found it much easier to go deep into the mindfulness when around people as opposed to eating in private.  Perhaps I found it easier to practice in public because I understood that by eating mindfully and building up lots of appreciation, gratitude, and reverence for the food, I was setting a good example as well as possibly stimulating a lot of thought for anyone witnessing the mindful practice.  It seems a bit easier to practice something when you know people might be learning from your example.  Rising to the standard of teaching by example is good way to up your standards.  Just so, Nietzsche talks about being the Superman around your friends so that too might aspire to the level of Superman.
  • Ask and you shall receive.  Maybe cliche, alas cannot say this one enough 🙂  If you know what you want, you can have it!  Many times throughout the month I asked for things, whether it be for a friend, guidance, free and healthy food, self-knowledge, wisdom, increased awareness, money, etc.  And whenever I asked, I received.  Now I’m working on developing the habit of turning more “daily routines” into “rituals” in that I offer up a prayer / intention before, clearly asking for something, which is essentially stating why I am doing what I’m doing.  Just as an example, I’ve started offering up the intention, “I intend that this way is clean and purifies the body, mind, heart, and soul.”  Also, the intention that I’ve been offering up when eating and drinking water and with meditating, practicing yoga, or sleeping, is “I intend that <this practice> deepens all living beings in awareness of You, Lord, and Your Unconditional Love, Deep Peace, and the Kingdom Within; that all may grow in Truth and Wisdom and Love for everyone and everything; aspiring to holiness and goodness and lightworking.”  Summum Bonum!  Essentially, the aforementioned intention is my current understanding of what is best – and that is basically that all become more conscious and aware of God and Goodness and the Kingdom 🙂  And what does that boil down to if maybe ‘God’ isn’t your thing.  Simply, Ask & Receive.  Know that the best things in life are free. Do what you love.  Just do it!  That’s what we’re all called to do anyway – what we love.
  • Aspire to holiness, godliness, the Superman!  Whatever that means to you, potential is infinite!  The path of learning and growing and giving is a joy and one that you can continue to walk for the rest of your life.  The mind is magnificent.  Store up the Treasures in Heaven!
  • Laughter is Truth.  Despite it all, we can always laugh and smile.  And the sound of laughter is a holy sound, a joyous sound that brings peace.  Another great sound? Om Shanti.  Chanting something short and sweet is incredibly empowering.  Then throw in a little dance with it and you’ve got a self-actualizing individual.  What greater gift is there than to offer up a song and dance?  Talk about using all your faculties for the Great Good!  Especially of the song is pure of heart…holy lyrics. Boom!  Use those gifts God gave you 🙂
  • Bathroom stall wisdom:  “The future is uncertain, /  The end is always near…”  Wise indeed!  Nietzsche too mentions that we need someone to preach an eminent death rather than all this of practicing patience.  Not that patience is bad, but essentially…the time is NOW!  There are no guarantees for tomorrow.  Today is the one true day!  We are here and the time is now and this is it. Taking nothing for granted is a beautiful way, and living with an awareness of death (potentially within the next minute, or even second!) is a great way to ensure that you withhold not your love.  Share your love with the world!  Forgive.  Now give 🙂  One thing I love about going on car trips is writing a blog post as if I might die during the trip, so I better make the words count and ensure I deliver a message which I believe matters.  Like Nietzsche says, “Write with blood.”  No more fluff!  We’ve got to stop talking like we’ll like 20 or 30 or 50 more years and realize that Now is the time and the gift and the goodness and glory is in the Golden Present.  With this awareness of death, we can still continue to learn and plan for the future.  And really, it is about the future!  In the future, what do you want?  In Heaven, what do you want?  Materials?  Cars? Clothes?  Or do you want Love? Friendship?  Warmth?  Smiles and Laughter and Joy, and some of that good ole Knowledge and Wisdom you can learn from books and conscious conversation?  Let’s remember what matters most and store up those Treasures in Heaven and share our love with the world.  There are no guarantees.  Let’s think about and talk about what matters most: Truth, God, Goodness, Love, Peace, Joy, Wisdom, The Good of All, Understanding, Creativity, etc. You name it!  I think we’d all agree on what matters most, or we’d at least agree it isn’t somethings, like those things that will most definitely turn to dust 😉  When you become aware of death and the potential for death at any moment, you realize the Gift of Life and the Beauty of Here & Now, and you’ll begin more and more to forgive, forget, and then remember who you really are, and what matters most, and then Love, Love, Love 🙂

Going forward…

1.  I plan to check email, once a day, sometime in the afternoon (snagging that idea from Leo Babuata, zenhabits superstar!)

2.  God-willing I’ll be writing (typing) most every morning from 7 AM to 9 AM…I realize there is some life experience I’d love to share succinctly, and I feel it just might be my duty to do so!

3.  Currently stationed on a college campus, I see my primary means of adding value here are practicing yoga and meditation, sometimes in public. Additionally, I thoroughly enjoy learning in the field of Self-Knowledge, Spirituality and Personal Growth, particularly from people like Leo Babuata, Steve Pavlina, Earl Nightingale, Napoleon Hill, Tony Robbins, Brian Tracy, Thich Nhat Hanh, Deepak Chopra, and Bob Proctor, so I think I’ll be using the internet and YouTube to reap some of their abundant harvest, as well as perhaps watch a philosophical lecture series or two.  (On the last day of the unplugging, there ‘just so happened’ to be a conference at Wake Forest on educational reform, and I realize that the things I enjoy learning about are very much how I’d like to see the content of education reformed a bit…so perhaps I’m totally embracing the lifelong role of student-teacher.  Learn a little, teach a little, love a lot 🙂 )

4.  As for the phone…totally unnecessary.  Currently rockin’ a GoPhone that has 250 minute emergency minutes that last over the course of three months that might be potentially handy on car trips.  Speaking of which…

5.  Ahh, the car.  Well, at the very least, don’t really see myself driving it much.  A friend inspired me when he shared that, supposedly, the Buddha / a Buddha lived for 6 years on just hemp seeds.  Totally seems like something a Superman would do, right?  Talk about simplifying your life!  I share this because the primary use of the car pre-unplugging was to retrieve food from the grocery, however now I’m compelled to order an abundance of hemp seeds from nuts.com and see how I can thrive on those, thus eliminating trips to the grocery!  I’ll also throw in a Source of Life multivitamin and possibly a calcium supplement just to keep health enthusiasts (and the body 😉 ) content.  Long-run, definitely would like to live without a car, and then it just becomes a matter of where I’d keep all those hemp seeds…

What shall I do for the glorious month of November?

Well, given that I’ve been recently inspired by the idea of becoming a ‘Superman,’ which I don’t see too far if it all removed from the pursuit of holiness, just a bit more of a youthful way of framing it I suppose…I’ve been considering, “What activities / habits could constitute a Superman?’

One I came up with that seems reasonable…sleep 4.5 hours or less!  And I think this is more than doable and even completely healthy considering the amount of time I spend practicing hatha yoga and sitting meditation.  Also, inspired by Swami Satchidananda who writes of the hours of 4-6 AM being particularly auspicious times for meditation, I think the sleep schedule might look something like 11-3:30.  Eh?  When else is Superman going to sleep?

I can already tell, though, that this habit will be a tricky one, because it’s only 7:11 right now and I’m about ready for some zzz’s.  Well hey, no harm in trying right?  I mean, the worst that happens is I die, and that will probably happy sooner or later anyway.  To dust! But until the dust settles….to Life!

For better or for better, yes – all is for good! – this 30 day experiment of sleeping only 4.5 hours / meditating from 4-6 every morning might be cut kinda / sorta in half as a result of a sister’s wedding in mid November, but alas.  Dedicating it all to God and the Greater Good of Everyone and Everything, Summum Bonum!  That all become more conscious and aware of the Infinite Goodness and Grace and Glory that is Here & Now Forever and Ever 🙂