This past weekend I experienced a profound twenty four hours while participating in a Technology Shabbat.
In the Jewish culture Shabbat is a holy day “of rest and spiritual enrichment” beginning at sundown on Friday until sundown Saturday. Although I am not religious, I grew up unplugged. My mother restricted my technology use to several hours per week. This led to a childhood spent reading the works of great authors, playing with my siblings, acting out adventure stories and writing stories of my own. For hours on end I daydreamed at the top of my favorite Poplar tree, connecting with the earth, the wind and my inner self. My family began a running joke that if they couldn’t find me all they had to do was “go outside and look up”. This engagement with the present was my normal.
Since those days swaying in the upper branches of that Poplar tree, I have only experienced snippets of that intimate connection to the present. With my ‘To Do’ list as cursed as the heads of Hydra, my mind is constantly engaged in how I can be productive. Tweeting, emailing and blogging consume my moments. So when I heard of Tiffany Shlain’s weekly technology shabbat, I was keen to give it a go. And so Friday, at the grey of twilight, I turned off my gadgets and put them out of sight. In that moment, the cacophony had been silenced and the vastness of space rose to my awareness. I had room to dream, think and create.
The next twenty four hours were a delicious treat. I was present in the moment. I was renewed body, mind and soul. Sun down on Saturday rolled around and I was eager to reengage with technology, but for a different reason than before. I wanted to enjoy rather than be productive. How enriching it is to simply enjoy! And for these benefits, I plan to continue the Technology Shabbat each week. I want space to think, I want to sit in silence; I want to once again daydream in that Poplar tree.
Are you ready for a weekly unplug?