Amara and I just returned from a most nourishing retreat in the rainforests of the Washington Coast, where we spent 10 days detached from our technology, contemplating life, and giving thanks for all our blessings (Wildheart families being a huge part of our many gratitudes!!!). We returned to a hot and dry Central Oregon reflecting on what it means to be in relationship with nature in so many different environments. What stood out to us was how deeply we had fallen into the trance of Mother Earth after only 10 days in a new environment. Both of us agreed that such a shift would not have happened were we to have had contact with our cell phones, computers, and all that comes along with those tools of society. Thus, we felt inspired to reach out and share some words of invitation.
Let’s be clear, as I’m sitting in front of my computer typing this message to you, I have no judgment or condemnation of our most beloved technology. It is a tool, and like any tool it can be used and it can be abused. In part, our intention, actions and mindset determine whether the outcome will have a positive or negative effect on our lives. If you are on a computer all day, or carry and use your cell phone everywhere, I honor and respect your choice to do so. For many of us, it is not possible to make a living without this constant companion. For the purpose of this blog, however, I would just like to invite you to examine your family’s habits and see if it is something you like, or something you may want to revise.
The best way to teach children about responsible use of technology is to be good role models ourselves. The warm weather makes it nearly irresistible to venture out into nature with our loved ones. These are prime opportunities to separate from our technology. While it is wise to have a phone in case of an emergency, a phone on airplane mode inside of a backpack is a great way to hang a ‘Do Not Disturb’ note on your consciousness. It can be wonderful to have phone conversations with friends and family in nature, to look up plants or animals on the internet, snap a photo or two for social media, or get some work done in a natural setting. It is equally wonderful to simply say ’no’ to technology and ‘yes’ to nature. Disconnecting from tech in such a way has profound implications on your natural connection, and I promise you will feel better afterward.
If it feels right, I invite you to intentionally create an outing like this for you and/or your family, where phones are not allowed to be a part of the experience for the day (save an emergency, of course). Pick a beautiful place to go, bring the essentials to have an adventure with your family or alone, and turn the tech off until you return to your home. As a parent, your children are conscious of your behaviors and will emulate them in the long and short term. If you draw the line with yourself on technology limitations and show them you are not willing to use it, you will be leading by example. How many of us have ever actually turned our phones off when we go outside to visit? How often do we refrain from capturing that perfect Instagram/Facebook moment on our phones instead of being fully present with it in the moment?
This is an extremely simple and small invitation, but not all simple things are easy to do. Our hope is that you try it and see how it feels. If you like it, then you can incorporate this small behavior into your practice of being outside. If you do it once in a while, but not all the time, GREAT! Small steps are easier to accomplish than giant leaps. This can be a small step in releasing you and your family’s energetic dependence on cyber reality. Should you feel the call to try this small gesture of commitment to your time outside this summer, I trust that it will ultimately lead to a greater depth of connection and experience to the world around you.
This same principle also serves to remind us about our dependence upon computers in the home. It is not the scope of our blog to get too much into the intricacies of technology usage in the house and life of families, but it is something we would like to bring awareness to, as it directly affects our willingness to disconnect when we are able (like hiking a trail). We recently listened to a wonderful podcast on the SoundsTrue Network with guest, Christopher Willard, called “Growing up Mindful.” It is a very insightful discussion on our technology behaviors as families and how we can shift those behaviors to be more connected with each other and the real world around us. If you are called to listen, we highly recommend it.
Some of Christopher’s suggestions to raise kids with healthy attitudes towards technology include:
- Designating times of day when technology is being used and when it is not. For example, not turning on phones or computers until an hour after everyone wakes up in the morning and turning them off an hour before bedtime.
- Not bringing technology into one’s bed at all as this can disrupt sleep, especially for teens.
- Keeping phones concealed when they are not being used instead of laying them out on the table.
- Choosing to leave the phone at home or on airplane mode for things like short walks, park outings, play dates, etc…
- Doing a mindfulness practice with social media where you look at your feed and notice how you feel with each post you read. Studies show that we are happier when we look at our own posts because people tend to present the best of themselves on social media. When you look at other peoples’ feeds you may notice feelings of envy, jealousy, or judgement surfacing.
We hope this has found you feeling joy as the summer is just getting started, but we hope even more that you haven’t read your email for days because you are too busy being swept up by nature and disconnecting from the cyber sphere. Either way, no matter how it looks for you, get outside and have some journeys in this beautiful land we all share together.
Also, if you haven’t noticed, a few of our summer camps still have a few precious spaces open. Now is the time to jump in as we often fill by the time the camp arrives. If your desired camp is full, please sign up for the wait-list as cancellations and changes in family plans often happen. We are so excited for the biggest summer season in Wildheart history and can hardly wait to play in the summer sun with your kiddos!!!
We’ll see you soon,