Where are you? Physically? What is the space you are in? Can you describe it? Are you really there? Do you know the people around you? Do you care to?
With today’s face paced technology and connectivity to, people we know, social media and live feeds, we are very often not present in mind even if we are in body. We might be sitting in a classroom, or at work, or even out to lunch or dinner with someone and yet we aren’t really there. We have been allowed over the past 10 years to become less and less present where we are.
I realized the other day, as I was sitting in my classroom getting ready for today, that I was spending as much time looking at my phone as I was working. My phone was open on my desk next to me as I was lesson planning and creating Google Slides for the first day. I wouldn’t say I was multi-tasking, although I am really good at that, as I was not being present. I didn’t really want to be there, and I was feeling pretty ready, so I allowed myself to be there. I was not the only one by far, but it made me recognize how often we are not mentally or socially engaged with where we are physically.
Dinners have become pictures of everyone looking down, engaged only with their phones. We went to dinner the other night with some family friends. There were 5 young men ages 14-23. They were all playing the same game, but it was on their individual phones. While they were all in the same physical space, mentally they were in the game. Even playing together they were engaged by their phones, not by the people surrounding them. They were by no means present, and yet they weren’t as absent as they could have been.
When we celebrate Ritual at Sacred Mists we do so online. We are an online school and we bring together such a diverse and amazing group of people and to be able to practice that way the technology is needed. As we have progressed in technology and new students come to the Mists there has been a change in energy. I know from talking to some and from my own distractions when not leading, that we are not always present, even at ritual. It has become too easy to be distracted or to find ourselves looking for something else to do. Constant stimulation has become a necessity. This makes it difficult to be present where you are when it is moving slow or is designed to help you slow down.
My goal for the next few weeks is to be present where-ever I am. To put down the phone, to listen fully to those speaking. To make eye contact, to hold conversations and to acknowledge those around me. To give my attention to the things that are before me. This isn’t easy. Even as I type this I know today was a rough day for this. I was better than I have been, but I definitely had moments…we had a staff meeting. No excuses.
What do you say? Put the phone down? Have a conversation with no phone in hand, no messaging or Google or Instagram? Would you find this difficult?