As poet Mary Oliver said when I heard her speak last week: “Silence is the door into the temple.” That door inward, where is it? As you surely know, profound silence — let alone ordinary, everyday peace and quiet — can be missed when we feel like we always must be “on,” reachable and plugged in.
In our household, we’re trying out a weekly practice of “technology Shabbat.” For two weeks now, which is almost a streak, we’ve welcomed sundown on Friday evening by turning off and away from technology for 24 hours. From Friday evening to Saturday evening.
With the exception of using our phones to make calls (amazing how we mostly use them for other things, now!), we switch off other communications for texting, emailing, blogging, surfing, and searching, as well as viewing TED talks, Glee, Friday Night Lights, and… gulp! …movies.
Honestly, it’s been much easier than I would have expected. It’s been great. We’ve been out and about, and have seen more of our friends and family in the last two weekends than usual, as well as more of each other. What’s not surprising, but still noticeable, is how often I automatically turn towards technology. For example, via the impulse to check email just because I’m in the same room as the computer.
I’ve started practicing what I call “technology Shabbats” with my family. Every Friday at sundown, our whole family disconnects until Saturday night. No cell phones, no Internet, no television, no iPads, no multitasking. We disconnect completely—or should I say we connect completely with ourselves and one another. I am learning that turning off technology is just as powerful as turning it on, and that our society needs both. Technology can be so enticing and overwhelming, but we also need to remember how important it is both to be fully present with the people we love and to be alone and present to ourselves. The potential of technology, globally and personally, is exponential, but we also need to know where the off switch is.
So this weekend, or maybe just for an hour, what’s it like to find the off switch, and perhaps even the door into the temple?