With the holidays upon us, and with that often comes traveling – long hours spent in airports and on the road; I am reminded of the importance of our senses and why we need to practice not using our devices as much. Okay, it’s not like I’m bossy or would ever tell you what to do but LISTEN UP (ha!).
You have an oculomotor system!!! It’s super important! I was driving around Pike Street today, and as usual, dodging pedestrians GLUED to their phones, their necks edged forward (you might be doing this right now at your computer trying to read this), eyes squinted, thumbs typing frantically, and not paying attention at all to anything around them except their phone. Some even had headphones in AND were texting. Recently there have been white silhouettes placed at crosswalks across the city where people have been hit by drivers (over 240 in the last year) – I imagine it is the fault of both pedestrians and drivers not being fully aware of their surroundings.
A person came to the clinic recently who was riding their bike and had to stop suddenly, flipped over their handlebars and broke several ribs. Why? Headphones. These things are tiny foreign objects which block off one of your very important senses to interact with the world around you. We have to train ourselves to use all of these senses, or we don’t! And you lose that ability slowly over time with repetition.
Looking at your phone all day keeps your visual system/nervous system only focusing on a tiny screen, which means that our eyes are only paying attention to a tiny 4 by 4 monitor, and NOTHING else around it. That means your organism stops interacting with its environment; you are training yourself to not be aware of things around you. Whoa. If you were conscious of this, would you continue doing it?
Sometimes as I’m writing to you, I’m sitting on the couch, half-writing, half-watching a movie, and I’ve realized over time how my capacity to focus on one thing has changed. I have gotten so “good” at multitasking, that my performance on each task has depleted. I have begun to work on isolating different tasks, so that I type on my computer for a while at the desk and shut off my phone, or put on a movie and leave other devices in the bedroom, essentially training myself to unlearn multitasking and stop being distracted by every text or the next thing. I also almost never wear headphones anymore outside, and find it interesting how I now experience the world again.
There is a man who has walked by me on my street for years, almost the same time every day (around 3 PM) to go get a coffee at our local coffee shop. I always see him taking photos of leaves and birds and yesterday he was just standing in front of this beautiful tree at the end of our street. We often wave or nod, and I know what he is experiencing by being aware and open to sights and sounds and smells and other people. It’s truly wonderful.
Now go get off your phone and experience some stuff!! Wishing you love and happiness this Winter.