For anyone out there (yogis in particular) who might not yet have a new year’s resolution, and who might be interesting in taking one on, I have a suggestion. Actually, one of my yoga teachers has a suggestion. In class, one my of favorite teachers joked that his resolution for the new year is to cut himself off, as much as possible, from technology. In other words, less T.V., less Internet, less Blackberry, less cell phone.
In general, I’m not a fan of new year’s resolutions. They tend to be rigid and banal, and, almost always, we fail to live up to them. But this resolution to “get off the technology” is a really good one, I think.
As yogis, and as part of our yoga practice, it’s not a bad idea to identify attachments or addictions that pop up in our lives. And, going further, it’s not such a bad idea to try to break ourselves free from these attachments when we discover them. Of course, one can become attached to breaking attachments, thus leading into a vicious cycle. But, assuming it’s done in a healthy and productive way, it’s probably a good idea to break free of emotional, psychological, and physical attachments/addictions whenever possible.
The main reason for doing this is not that we want to blindly follow some mantra about “being unattached.” Rather, breaking free from attachments releases us from a source of suffering. Whether you are hooked on yoga, reality T.V., or alcohol, all of these attachments/addictions cause us suffering when we don’t have in hand the object of our attachment/addiction. And even when we do have the object of our attachment/addiction near us, it causes us harm because our happiness is entirely contingent, i.e., our happiness depends upon the presence of the object of our desire.
Technological gadgets, in particular, are really easy to become attached to. Just talk to anyone who carries a “Crack-Berry”, and you’ll know what I mean. Personally, I’ve had a problem with email and the internet. Over the past few years, I’ve found myself spending way too much time checking/writing email, and just surfing aimlessly around on the web. (This very blog is a perfect example of my Internet addiction!) A few months ago, I decided to cut myself off from the Internet at home. I got rid of my internet service, forcing myself to walk or drive all the way to the public library or a coffee shop if/when I want to check my email or go on the Internet. Not surprisingly, I no longer check my email incessantly, nor do I have the time to look up random, useless things on Wikipedia every two minutes. Instead, I’ve been spending, on average, less than an hour on the internet each day, whereas I used to spend more like 3 or 4 hours on the internet per day.
Breaking myself free of my personal technology addiction was difficult, no doubt. But now that I have an extra few hours a day, I’m finding much more time to do things that I know are much more beneficial for me. I have more time to write, to read, to cook, etc. (Unfortunately for this blog, it also means that I haven’t been posting as much in the last several months.) Similarly, getting rid of the T.V. several years ago was one of the greatest decisions of my life. I’ve probably watched less than 10 hours of T.V. in the past two years, and I can’t really say that I’m worse off for it. People look at me like I’m some crazy hippie from the backwaters when I tell them that I don’t have T.V. or Internet in my apartment, but breaking my attachments from these things has been life changing. Such is the case with most attachments/addictions, I think. It’s not until the attachment/addiction is broken that you really start to realize how much of a hold it had on you.
So, to pass on the message that my yoga teacher delivered in class, if you’re looking for a good new year’s resolution to adopt, why not resolve to kick the T.V. and/or the Internet and/or the Blackberry to the curb? You’ll be glad you did.