Every time we look at a screen, may it be a reminder to be mindful, take a deep breath, and adjust our screen posture. Be it a cell phone, tv, laptop, billboard, wall menu; whenever you find yourself noticing that you are looking at a screen, check in with your thoughts, feelings, and posture; breathe in fully; improve your physical alignment.
Screens are only becoming more and more ubiquitous in our everyday lives. As a result of this new and omnipresent sensory inundation it sometimes can feel like it is more difficult to find presence within ourselves. The less mindful we are the more we find ourselves hunched over and shallow breathing. Fear not! There are simple steps we can take to live harmoniously with the ever advancing digital age! These steps are the same steps we take any time we want to maximize our efforts towards being more mindful and present within the moment.
What’s in a screen?
Screens can be used to advance knowledge, relationships, compassion for the suffering of others, social justice, entertainment, and many other powerfully positive things. Screens can also be used for advancing radicalization, bullying, spreading ignorance and gossip, hiding from our “real world” problems, and many other things detrimental to ourselves and society. When we begin our screen time with a mindful breath and a proper adjustment to our posture, I propose that we are more likely to be our higher-selves and go the path of the former, positive possibility.
How it works
Does this not hold true for anything? About to confront someone about something you care about but disagree on? Take a deep breath, be aware of your posture, and begin with mindfulness. Going on a job interview? Take a few deep breaths and adjust your posture as you head into the meeting. Job interviews and emotionally charged conversations are very different activities; however, how we set ourselves up to most likely be successful is very much the same! This is just how human beings work.
Quiet the mind
The breath is the key to the door of consciousness and our emotions. Deep, slow breathing techniques like three sided breathing or four sided breathing are highly effective tools to soften the ego, cut through extreme emotional clouds when we need to, and ultimately quiet the mind.
With a quiet mind we are more likely to express our true beliefs and feelings in a way that other people are more likely to receive. When we are immersed in the present moment, rather than lost in our thoughts, we are more likely to hear someone else or acquire new information. From a mindful place we can recognize when we are or are not paying attention and bring our focus where we want it.
The breath is our greatest asset in achieving our best focus. With focus we are more likely to enjoy entertainment, have a peaceful exchange of ideas, perform a physical act how we want to, or absorb information in an article. This is just how human beings work!
Position our body
The positioning of our body, especially our spines, effects the energy of our bodies. If you believe in chakras or chi then this concept of allowing for the optimum physical flow through proper alignment and positioning probably fits intuitively with your understanding of energy. If you don’t subscribe to those notions of unseen energy running through our bodies, consider that when our spine is curved it is more difficult to breathe deeply. Try it yourself. And when we cannot breathe as well, we are sending less oxygen to our brain. In turn, our ability to maintain focus is impaired compared to when we are fully breathing freely and fully oxygenated. This is just how human beings work!
Optimizing ourselves for focus
So how would this be true for looking at a phone or laptop? Well, is there not a best posture for acquiring information or paying attention? Sitting upright with a comfortable spine, shoulders back, crown of head sitting over our hips; this is how you maintain focus for extended periods of time.
My point is that setting ourselves up for success starts before the activity. For example, meditation may be about letting go of our thoughts and therefore about ignoring physical distractions like itches and twitches; however, we still plan ahead before the meditation to sit as comfortably as possible. We start meditating with our hips above our knees so that our legs don’t fall asleep. Things like that will make our time meditating that much easier because there will be less distractions and future ailments. The same goes for screen postures. Before we read an article or respond to something on social media, we can optimize our chances of success by checking in with ourselves, breathing deep, and adjusting as needed.
Check in now with yourself
The more we do any activity, the more critical it is to focus on proper posture. The start of proper posture is awareness. So how do you feel right now? Notice any thoughts or emotions. Notice where your feet, legs, spine and head are. And now let’s breathe in deep through our nose. With that inhale, let us roll our shoulders up by our ears and gently straighten out our spine to a slight J curve. Exhale out all the air while we bring our shoulder blades straight down our back away from our ears. Slightly engage your core to protect your spine and help lift you out of your hips. And now begin your screen activity… or perhaps reading, talking, or driving… or anything! Mindfulness and posture will serve you!
Nothing is permanent
Despite how good this proper posture and heightened awareness feels, it is inevitable that we will find ourselves lost in our thoughts and hunched over again. Do not despair! Life moves in cycles. You will be back to awareness soon. The more you practice becoming aware of your changing states, the earlier and earlier you will notice you are out of alignment. Once we become aware of shallow breathing or poor posture, begin this Screen Posture Awareness Technique again!
Make the most of the situation
You can use anything as a reminder to fix your posture and breathe deep; however, there are sooooo many screens!!! So let’s turn them to our mindfulness advantage. Every screen is like a tiny gong in our head. When we notice we are looking at a screen we hear the gong ring clear saying “check in with my breath and posture”.
How many times a day will we be given the gift of a reminder to do these simple, healthy things? In our modern world, a plethora. May we renew our commitment to our breath and posture more and more throughout each day!
What is your screen posture?
What will be the lifelong effects of doing this awareness technique so regularly throughout every day each time we see a screen? Leave a comment below and let me know what you think!