Even though I lived almost half a century without the Internet, it is hard to imagine life without it now. How did I spend my time in those ancient, unconnected days?
Instead of watching YouTube videos of singers, I played my guitar and wrote songs. Instead of checking emails, I eagerly checked my mailbox for handwritten letters, or I would write letters. Rather than playing hours of backgammon against the computer, I would play with my family. Ah, those were the good old days.
Internet Addicts Anonymous
Recently some friends and I were joking about starting Internet Addicts Anonymous, but several organizations like that already exist. Is technology addictive and bad for you? The Internet certainly has many time-saving and useful advantages that I personally love, but it is also easy to waste time on it. Although I know I am not close to being an addict, I do find that when wandering aimlessly on the Internet, I can get lost in the overload of information out there, just moving horizontally from link to link. My attention span becomes so short, that when I click on a link I find myself just skimming the first part of an article before looking for the next click. I often find that 30 to 40 minutes have gone by, without accomplishing anything useful.
My New Year’s resolution was to start 2014 with a week-long “Internet fast.” Before January 1 came, I was already experiencing symptoms of withdrawal. It is hard to believe, but once offline, I did not miss it at all. After the first day I forgot about it. I realized if it is not there I fill my time with better things.
A Different Internet
In addition to unplugging from my computer and cell phone for a week, I attended a meditation retreat, where I was able to enjoy extended practice of Transcendental Meditation. During this time I enjoyed connecting with a different Internet — the silent, transcendental, unified level of life, which connects everyone and everything in the universe.
The Cosmic Computer
Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, who brought Transcendental Meditation to the west, often equated the transcendental level of our own Being with the unified field of natural law discovered by quantum physics. He often called this level a “cosmic computer” as it computes the entire functioning of the universe from within an unmanifest field — now that is powerful computing.
I found it extremely enjoyable and easy to plug into this silent level. I experienced it as a sumptuous, luxurious field of bliss. Sometimes during deeper experiences of transcendence, I felt like I was sitting at the source and central switchboard of all creation. I also noticed that my activity between morning and afternoon meditations was much more effortless, as though tasks were getting done by themselves.
After the week on the retreat I noticed I was more discriminating in how I used my time on the computer. Meditating daily and plugging into the cosmic computer—the unified, orderly value of inner silence—helps me to then navigate with more focused purpose through the sometimes overwhelming information realm of cyberspace. If we regularly alternate being on our computers with cosmic computing, we will be interconnected on both levels of life—inner and outer, which potentially could lead to a more unified world consciousness.
Although I do enjoy the Internet, and am also dependent on it for work, I plan to make “unplugging” for the first week of every year an annual tradition because of the many benefits I noticed during my week offline. Happy computing in 2014!
This content was originally featured on the Huffington Post.