The sun has barely appeared in the sky and I’m already on my knees. I set the timer to ten minutes, hit start and close my eyes.
After I’ve meditated I head downstairs to make myself a peppermint tea. I might eat something. I might not.
Then I’m back upstairs, reading.
Today it was Judd Apatow’s Sick in the Head, Atul Gawande’s The Checklist Manifesto and Seth Godin’s Whatcha Gonna Do With That Duck?
After an hour and a half, I’m feeling good. My mind is spinning. I can feel ideas reverberating around my mind. I can feel the energy beginning to build.
Time to write.
I turn on my laptop. I open up Chrome.
Click. Emails. Scroll. Click. Facebook. Scroll. Click. Twitter. Scroll. Click. Quora. Scroll.
One of the biggest things I took from Antony de Mello’s The Way to Love was this: The only prerequisite for change is awareness. Meaning, once you see the impact a particular behaviour is having, it becomes easy to either do more or less of it.
You need to do nothing more. Just see.
Examples: You don’t stop smoking because someone tells you too. You stop because you understand that you’re killing yourself. You don’t end a relationship because your friends don’t like your partner. You end it because you see how toxic it’s becoming. You don’t exercise because everyone says you have to. You do it because you realise it gives you more energy and helps to relieve stress.
My approach and attitude towards social media is changing. But only because I’m becoming more attuned to the impact social media has on my own mind.
For me, social media is disruptive at best, and poisonous at worst.
The clarity and the energy that builds up when I meditate and read in the morning is great. When it’s there I feel at ease. Anxiety melts away. But as soon as I begin to click and scroll, I can see it eroding.
I can feel it’s insidious impact.
In Wherever You Go, There You Are, Jon Kabat-Zinn says that practising mindfulness is like letting dirt settle in water. When the water is still, the dirt settles to the bottom, and the water becomes clear.
But as I jump onto social media, I can feel my water becoming clouded. I watch that beautiful clarity fade away.
It’s also a coincidence that I finished Cal Newport’s Deep Work last week. One of his rules for doing deep work is this:
Quit social media.
He talks about the effects of constant connectivity and the cost of frequently switching your attention. These are the antithesis of what remarkable, deep work requires:
Disconnection. Detachment. Solitude. Uninterrupted stretches of time and focus.
De Mello is right. To change, all you need to do is see.
Social media, for me, harms more than it helps.
I recognise that, I accept that and I’m acting on it.