For one long moment, I debated the issue: Should I take my phone with me, or leave it here? I was only going to be gone an hour or so. I made the mental calculations—who might need me, what I might need it for. There was an emotional tug (I want it with me). This was a test. Could I be apart from it? Yes, I decided, I could.
After all, it was not even 8:00am on a Saturday. And I was on my way out.
To a massage.
See, this is a problem. Because there was not one person who had any interest in reaching me at that moment, nor did I have a need for anyone else. But it’s enough to sound the alarm bell, even for me—because this isn’t the practical weighing of a situation (Will I need the umbrella?). This is the cry of a dependent person.
Oh, and it gets better. I wasn’t even home. I was away for the weekend, at a retreat center called Old Stone Farm, a charming 200-acre estate nestled away in teeny tiny Staatsburg in upstate New York. I was staying in a restored 18th century barn and about to get worked over by a professional energy healer/massage therapist, who would attempt to undo the very stress-induced knots I spend my life getting into. Yeah, I could probably do without Twitter, at least until breakfast.
The pathological Pavlovian response dictated by our devices is undeniable. In a survey conducted at meQuilibrium, 50 percent of respondents reported checking their work email outside of work, including on weekends and vacations. Sixty-one percent admitted that they can’t ignore their devices, and check them within the hour of receiving an alert, text, or email. And what’s worse, 61 percent said they feel jealous, depressed, or even sad after checking status updates. They feel worse! But they keep checking! (Read more about the survey findings.)
We don’t just have devices—we have a collective, digital rash. And we keep scratching. We’re not just connected; we’re inflamed by our hyper-reachability. This goes back to the issue of stress addiction, which I wrote about recently, in which we crave that excitement, thrill, the “what’s next”-ness that our tiny handheld oracles deliver hour after hour. Sure, some of our fuss is about putting out fires, but it’s also incredibly optimistic—because you never know when that great piece of news, that amazing opportunity, will be delivered by the universe in a single ping. And who wants to miss that?
But I knew it was worth the risk to really enjoy the massage (a blend of Thai stretching and chakra work—super groovy stuff that felt amazing). Rather than scanning the digital horizon for what would come next, I had the profound experience of deep-diving into the moment, of becoming aware of my body and mind, yet comfortably detached from all its trappings (the judgments, the thoughts, the reactions). The only way to describe it is that I was being slowly unraveled like a tangled, kinked electrical wire—and who better than an energy healer to do it.
I’m happy to report I didn’t miss anything during those 90 minutes. Not a damn thing. I think about what would have been different if I had brought my phone. Nothing. It would have sat there in my bag, dumb as a stone. And when I walked (floated) out, my energy, usually firing in jagged sparks, flowed in a single, glowing wave. I felt connected and whole—without being connected to anything at all.
Read more on how to control your device instead of the other way around.
(P.S. That amazing therapist is Kaline Kelly, and if you’re in the New York area, and even if you’re not, trust me, she’s worth the visit.)