Present Tense

Calming my ‘monkey brain’…..

I have a love/hate relationship with my smart phone.  I love that it connects me with the world and I hate that it connects me with the world.

I hate that it has turned me into Pavlov’s dog every time I get an ‘alert’ that I have an email or a text.  I pounce on that phone like it’s a life raft and I’m drowning.  I use ‘work’ as an excuse for having the phone with me at all times.  What if there is an important email that I need to see immediately?  That happens approximately…um…never.  Checking email once or twice a day would keep me completely in the work loop.

Here’s the dirty little secret that I had to face:  most of the mails I get are Facebook notifications.  Worse than that, I have numerous Facebook pages; one personal and 3 for my job.  That, my friends is ENTIRELY too much Facebook. This past week I decided to take some action.

I’ve instituted “No Facebook Tuesdays”.  One day a week when I must stay completely off all of my Facebook accounts and I’ll tell you why.  While FB can be kind of fun and a great way to re-connect with old friends (which is what my ‘personal’ FB consists of; people that I actually KNOW), the other ones tend to suck an inordinate amount of my time.

I’m compelled to read the posts and comment.  I’m compelled to update my status updates several times a day and comment.  Then, I find myself in “discussions” (arguments) with people I don’t know, over subjects that I really don’t care all that much about.  Does that sound healthy and productive? Didn’t think so.

I’m reading a wonderful book by Buddhist nun, Pema Chodron called “Living Beautifully With Uncertainty and Change”.   It’s part of my continuing work on leaving behind my compulsions, ego and tendency to worry everything to death.  I love the Buddhist concept of impermanence; that nothing stays the same, that we really don’t ever have solid ground under our feet and if we accept that and forget about trying to control the uncontrollable, we will eventually awaken to the reality of our true selves and our true lives.

The first step on this path is to let go of the need to be ‘right’;  the compulsion to assert our ego into everything.  To develop the ability to quell our desire to comment and opine on every issue.  That’s hard for me.  Facebook is one big, fat stew of comments, opinions, rants, fights, disagreements and screaming egos demanding to be heard and affirmed.  Blech.

And don’t think this is an indictment of everyone but me; it’s not.  I find myself reading or listening to something that moves me and the first thought that pops into my mind is that I need to post it on Facebook.  Really?  I can’t just own it for myself and enjoy the moment and the emotions that I’m feeling?  I have to show everyone that I found something they need to consume.  And yes, I will post this blog on Facebook.  I’m not fully enlightened after all.

After my first “No Facebook Tuesday”, I noticed the amount of emails dropped considerably, meaning that the number of times I pounced on my smart phone was greatly lessened.  I was able to live my real life.   I was more focused and present for my morning radio show. I read a great book, with no dinging interruptions, cooked a couple of meals, talked to my husband, meditated, went about my daily business with my eyes forward, rather than looking down at the glowing screen.

Quite a lesson learned in a 24 hour period. The bottom line is that Facebook isn’t the problem. I am the problem.  I allow my monkey brain to take over my life.  I must comment, I must opine, I must win this argument, I must plan and analyze and prepare for every eventuality.  And then, if anyone disagrees or challenges me, I MUST respond.

Buddhism is a way for me to dampen these compulsions; to quiet the monkey brain.  To allow life to unfold; to come to me as it will, minus my white knuckle grip on control.  This is truth for me.  The only thing I can control is me and my reactions to whatever plops in front of me.  I am choosing contemplation and meditation over confrontation these days.  It’s hard, but I am gaining a sense of clarity and lightness that has been missing for years.

February 9, 2013 - Posted by | Musings | , , , , , , , , ,

12 Comments »

  1. This hits home and probably for a lot of us! Great post Jane! Thank you again

    Comment by marge beem | February 9, 2013 | Reply

  2. Hey, Jane, another easy trick is to turn off the smartphone email alert. Most freeing thing I’ve done in a long while since most of my alerts were for nothing important or urgent. I, too, had used the “work” excuse. Totally bogus on my part!

    Comment by Cori Jackamore | February 9, 2013 | Reply

  3. Atta girl. Thanks for inspiring.

    Comment by Teresa gatton | February 9, 2013 | Reply

  4. Love this. I don’t have a smart phone; frequently don’t have my phone on and often have the gall NOT to answer it when it rings. Dan thinks I’m crazy, but I refused to let my phone dictate my life. I’m trying to be on FB less too, and do feel like I’m not “wasting” as much of my time. Good for you! Love the book recommendations.

    Comment by Francesca Amari, Cabaret singer | February 9, 2013 | Reply

  5. My laptop charger broke this week, and I can’t even begin to describe my panic! I’m enrolled in online classes, and of course getting behind in my posts and discussions was my first thought, but then I became really worried that I would fall behind on all my face book news feeds, and what is going on with my daughters. Hello?? I have a phone, one of them even lives in town next to me, why did that even cross my mind? And I think it’s because my sister is always the first to pounce on their postings before I am, and that made me feel like she was more involved with them than I was. How utterly stupid that was. So, having no computer for over 4 days gave me time to read, actually call my daughters, exercise, contemplate.. it was wonderful!! I like your idea about not connecting on Tuesdays, and I’m going to try and do this on more than one day of the week as well. I’m enrolled in holistic health classes, and I am going to order the book you suggested. Sounds wonderful! Thanks Jane! As always, a terrific piece of writing!

    Comment by pmystery3 | February 9, 2013 | Reply

    • I have to say that my initial No Facebook Tuesday kind of kick started me into spending a lot less time on the computer. Every journey starts with that first step, regardless of whether it’s self-imposed or as a result of other circumstances.
      It’s up to us to recognize the effect.
      Thanks for the note
      Janr

      Comment by janelondon | February 9, 2013 | Reply

  6. Great post Jane. I used to have a burning need to be right until I ran across someone who was even worse than me. She’s a supervisor where I work and she has very large control issues and has to have the last word on everything. I realized after working with her for a year that I’m not even close to being that bad. In fact I think being around her made me have less of a need to be in control and right all the time.

    Comment by Tania | February 9, 2013 | Reply

    • Tania:
      I think we often learn the most when dealing with people who share our more annoying qualities:).
      Jane

      Comment by janelondon | February 9, 2013 | Reply

  7. I actually read a book today. Yes, it was for class but it kept me off this box. And to fulfill my need to pass things on it was “The Glass Castle” by Jeannette Walls. Gave a new perspective on things. 288 pages. I do not have a phone connected to e-mail. I see where that would really be a blessing. Also why I just love beint outdoors. Great insight once again Jane,

    Comment by Tim | February 9, 2013 | Reply

    • Tim
      I love that book. Bravo!
      Jane

      Comment by janelondon | February 9, 2013 | Reply

  8. I am pretty much doing kind of the opposite of you, instead of taking one day off from FB, I do one day on! Because like you, if I go to FB, I am compelled to read/check out every post. Thank goodness I only have one FB account and no smartphone that I use for internet. I find it…odd? sad? that alot of people will use FB as their main form of communication about things like births/deaths & other life events. I also find it annoying when I am out with friends and instead of enjoying each other’s company, there are many “alert” interruptions. It is ridiculous.

    Comment by Jessi H. | February 10, 2013 | Reply

  9. you are reading my monkey mind! I’ve been in court all week – no phones/computers allowed. By the time I get home, around 8-9 pm, I do a few work things and pass out. Up again the next day. I have gone a little over a week without hopping onto facebook. I got on today and looked at all that has transpired over the last week. I didn’t really miss that much. But I gained sooooo much time to focus on other things. What a great lesson I learned this week – and your timely post reinforces it. 🙂

    Comment by Mary | February 10, 2013 | Reply


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