April 17, 2012

By Jo Cooper

Both my home & office laptops developed crippling problems within one week. Well, hello, Universe!

My office computer recovered. But I found myself in an Apple store, after a discouraging meeting with the tech at the Genius Bar, having a serious discussion with a young saleswoman about purchasing a new mac. I happened to mention that I had started experimenting with unplugging for long stretches of time– leaving my cell phone behind, limiting my computer time… She stopped what she was doing and stared at me, stunned. “I could never do that!” she said earnestly– her eyes repeatedly returning to mine, questioning, fascinated.

Is it so unusual, so unthinkable, to use technology mindfully rather than perpetually?

Technology is a big part of my work, since I manage the Center’s website, social media, communications and marketing. It’s also a part of my home life, since I organize my family with an online program, communicate with teachers, stay in touch with friends, keep up with the news– and just plain have fun with online learning through a myriad of platforms.
But I am also a Buddhist practitioner, and a serious student of mindfulness. And I’ve found that deliberately unplugging has added discernibly to a deeper feeling of satisfaction in life. More front porch sitting with a good book, pausing to watch the clouds scudding across the sky, and that long, golden afternoon spring light. More long conversations with my sweet sons. More chores getting done, and more nature walks, meandering through the blossoms, serenaded by birdsong. Less feeling tethered to anything, and a resulting feeling of freedom! Quite suddenly, life is richer, and more memorable. Like so many bumps in the road, my computer problems have provided a gift. And this time, the gift wasn’t wrapped in so many layers that I couldn’t find it.