Reclaiming your bedroom
They often sit charging up right next to you. Or in the living room, or by the kettle in the kitchen. In a family of four it can be four phones with spare chargers hogging plug sockets (and it’s a bit dangerous as well).
Harmless? Convenient? Let’s dig a bit deeper.
Even with the phone switched off, their presence is a subconscious reminder that we are “always connected”, even in the bedroom. If that suits you, then read no further.
Always connected can be a boon if, in our daily working that really helps us to work more effectively. It can increase our response times, keep us “in touch”, and also it can even increase personal self confidence as, for many people, owning up to date information creates a personal feeling of power and being in control.
At home, in the room for sleeping, the place where we seek to refresh ourselves, rest and restore, how really needed is “always connected”? What does it contribute? I’d suggest that “always connected” in the bedroom transforms too often into being “locked in”. We often use the excuse of using the phone as an alarm clock, but it’s a lame excuse. What it really is is a little device filled with will and intention. And get this: it isn’t OUR intention it is filled with. What Jaron Lanier calls “lock down” is a big part of that intention and will. Can you really do without your mobile phone by your bed? Could you really leave it downstairs or – perish the thought – progress from leaving it on standby to switching it off altogther?
What comes first, the morning kiss for your partner, or checking to see what texts have queued up over night, WANTING your attention, six inches from your head? Where should your first morning gestures really direct themselves to?
Again, if you don’t feel uneasy with that, then read no further.
Ironically, that very inbuilt, inherent will and intention can work very well and really show how truly innovative and wondrous these impressive gadgets are in our day to day business. That will and intention from the software and hardware designers represents an intuitive leap of genius that is a kind of designed, unspoken deal. As long as we agree to the “always connected” relationship during the day, then we can have real time, ultra-responsive, communication with colleagues, clients, customers, suppliers, associates, friends and family. We can be in touch in ways undreamed of even a couple of decades ago. We have almost psychic connection.
But at night, you might just find that closing the door to the bedroom and literally switching EVERYTHING off, is the best preparation for restorative sleep and some resolving, refreshing breathing and dreaming. Sleep takes up a third of our lives. It has a purpose. It is connected to health. It’s where we process the bad stuff and harvest the good stuff. We restore, we heal, we dream and redream stories and try to develop ourselves in subconscious ways that make the next day better.
In traditional stories, the end of the working day was about putting tools properly away in their boxes, chests and cupboards, stabling the horses with a calming pat and some fresh straw. It was about the gesture of closure for the night, closing the circle by making a very conscious gesture of placement of the tools BACK in their rightful place. We only slept with our sword by our bed when we felt in danger. We should be lying in our bed gently reflecting on the day and letting go into sleep.
Beside our bed might be a cup of hot chocolate, or some light reading, or even some lavender oil (if that helps you relax). We turn out the light and it is time for a different phase of the day – a time to let go. The night confirms it with darkness outside (unless you are a shift worker!). I’d suggest that “always connected” doesn’t let us let go properly, and, at best, only provides something akin to the reassurance of a nearby bottle of gin to a heavy drinker.
And during family time, or solitary early evening relaxation time, making the gesture of placement – of putting the phone away for a consciously chosen period of time, strengthens our will and actually makes us more able to see things through and be more wilfully effective in our daytime work and other activities. Chosen acts of will that are regularly repeated, gently but firmly done, can add surprisingly large amounts of energy to our will power. Try it.
So, off with the Ipads and the mobile phones. Get a little charging station and put it in a hallway or a spare room. At night plug them all in there and banish them from meal times, from the bedroom and from family or personal chill out time. And do this, not because there is something evil or bad about these technologies. Do it BECAUSE they are so compelling and full of built-in will force. Just remind yourself, that they are designed to lock you in, which can work very well in the working day, but serves little purpose during your time to relax, let go, and refresh. Always connected, even if you get used to it, also means always on, always alert, never quite at a place of pure calm and ease.
Reclaim your home by putting these gadgets in their place, a place chosen by you that protects the places where they are not needed and where they really don’t add much and only tend to feed a growing, creeping addiction to the need to be “always connected”. If always connected to the world out there means that, little by little, our own connection to ourselves and those we love, is eroded away, is that a fair deal? Is that a price really worth paying?