Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Lessons from a Computer Cleanse

spring bubbles 2

Wow!  It's been 27 days since taking a break from the Internet and I'm sitting at my keyboard feeling a little unsure.  I have thoughts and feelings swirling around in my head and heart because I'm telling you...this computer cleanse was an eye opener for me.  I'll do my best to try articulating some of the key lessons that unplugging has helped me learn.

Connection is Key
It's funny that disconnecting has reminded me just how important staying connected really is!  For the first week or so of my April Unplugged challenge I fought it tooth and nail.  I wanted out.  I was so close to writing a "just kidding" post and I kept reaching for my phone as if it were a drug.  I just gotta have it.  My thumb was working in autopilot - reaching for the Facebook or Twitter app when I wasn't paying attention.

But I refrained.  I stayed away.  And soon, my resistance dissipated.

Over the last month my heart has filled with such gratitude for the connections I've made around the world - all from this little art room in Kansas.  I thought I had been appreciating my newfound friendships, but it really is true that sometimes you don't know or recognize what you have until it's gone.

For almost two years now I've made a living teaching e-courses, writing, coaching and connecting to other life explorers.  I made this job up because I followed my passion and commitment and the Internet has opened a world of possibilities for my creative work to flourish.  And in following my heart I have connected and built life-long relationships that go way beyond the surface.  What a gift!

Staying connected is invaluable.  It helps me grow.  It reminds me I'm not alone.  And it brings me great joy.

bubbles wit -kestan

Present Moment Brings Balance
When in balance, reading and writing blog posts gives inspiration and offers me a creative outlet.  But when I get sucked into cyber-ville out of habit then I feel drained and scattered.  A habit after all is doing something with a lack of self-awareness.  And not being aware of my actions or intentions keeps me from living in the moment.

So this computer cleanse reminded me to put away my phone more often, to check my email less throughout the day and to be more efficient with my computer time.  I now have a babysitter who comes two part-time mornings each week so I save my main computer time for these moments.  I've scheduled two days a week for adventures with the kids outside the house.  When it's work time, I work.  When it's play time, I play. When it's laundry time, I fold the clothes (and Kestan jumps in them).  When it's bubble time, we blow bubbles.  I used to be anti-schedule, but now I find it so refreshing!   Being mindful of how I use my time helps me feel less cluttered and more alive and in the moment.  My kids seem to really appreciate this, too.

heart close up

Clarity of Purpose
Reframing how and when I use the computer has helped me shift my consciousness this past month.  I read more books, like Momma Zen by Karen Maezen Miller, The Backyard Homestead by Carleen Madigan and Feeding the Whole Family by Cynthia Lair.  I listened to inspiration from my yoga teacher's guru.  I enjoyed more quiet time for self-reflection and discovery instead of filling up my brain with a bazillion tweets.  (Which to me feels a lot like stepping into the monkey mind of the entire world.  I've got enough restless thoughts of my own thank you very much! Don't get me wrong - I still love me some Twitter in moderation.)  And, I enjoyed returning to my journal to process these new shifts.

Cleansing from the computer gave me some much needed time to paint.  I find painting, and many creative activities to be a spiritual practice, one that helps align my heart center with my mind.  With the inspiration of Shona Cole in her Wish Big e-camp course, I created what she calls an "artist vision statement."  This painting is my daily visual reminder of what my purpose is in life, and having this clarity guides my intentions on how I use the computer to feed that purpose, rather than deplete it.

artist vision statement 2011

I am a vibrant being - full of life.  Joy, compassion, peace and happiness surround my days as I embrace the present moment.  I create art and experiences that reflect my inner journey and beauty...and I inspire other life explorers to let their fullest light shine bright.  I create with my children and guide them to celebrate and express their unique gifts with the world.  I am free...

So, I'm still learning.  That's what life is all about, isn't it?  But today I throw out my arms and give you the biggest hug!  SO happy to be back bloggin' with ya.  My intention after this computer cleanse is to continue practicing self-awareness so I don't reach for the Internet out of habit, but use it as a tool to connect to this wonderful world...and YOU!

Your Personal Reflection:  What habits, thoughts or behaviors do you do without self-awareness?  Are you ready for a cleanse?  


  1. Scheduling does indeed offer a degree of freedom, and ensures we allow time to dream, to love and to be. My favorite "planned being" is solitude. I allow room for this in the early morning and just before sleep at night.

    {P.S. Fabulous collage reflecting what is in your heart. ♥}

  2. Yay - you're back! :-)) Missed you - even though we did connect a little bit in between.

    Lots of wisdom has come from your computer cleanse experience - thank you for sharing it. You've given me something to think about. Sometimes I feel like I've been swallowed up by the computer and feel very bad from the experience. Other times my time on the computer is inspirational & fulfilling. I've struggled with working out how this happens. Your perspective of it being about self-awareness has given me something to think about. Hopefully it'll lead to self-understanding and a plan of action of my own.

    Thanks Shannon.
    And sending you a BIG welcome back hug.
    Kat Xx

  3. taking time to connect with the self is essential! i'm impressed you managed an entire month of it, and i am thrilled to have you back! xo

  4. oh i could use a cleanse of habitude! i am so happy you did and are sharing it with us. i think i may work on the scheduling bit and try turning off otherwise. and welcome back!!!

  5. Love your insights and so glad your computer cleanse was so refreshing, empowering, spacious and inspiring for you. Connection, Presence and clarity of purpose...such pertinent keys. Thanks so much for your sharing yet again Shannon. Love, Katie

  6. Hi Shannon:

    Welcome back. I so need a schedule and a routine. I will be working on one today. Things feel a little wonky for me lately especially if I don't have a plan. Love the idea of mindful connection on the interwebs!

  7. Welcome back! Thank you for sharing all that you have learned. It has inspired me to take a step back and really look at where my time is spent.

  8. welcome back! good for you for intentionally taking a break. my life has been turned upside down with our move and i only find myself on the computer to make a quick post. i saw you're back and had to say your words resound with me. i am going to schedule my computer time in when we have our own home again and our own routine. for now i'm enjoying this break from the computer that is being imposed on me as my husband is studying in our little guest house while we entertain ourselves outside. it's been wonderful! i definitely feel more present as a parent and that is the kind of parent i want to be.

  9. Heyyyyyy, welcome back! Sounds like a great cleansing with lots of time to reflect. LOVE your new painting. It makes a powerful and bold statement and is so full of energy and vibrancy! It feels refreshed! Reading about your month off was inspirational. Isn't it funny how schedules sometimes give us more freedom. :)


  10. Nice to have you back, Shannon! I always look forward to your posts and found myself missing them. Reflecting with you on your experience makes me want to focus on a schedule. I always struggle with this, but find that it does make me feel more balanced and more self aware. A little less computer = A healthier mind and spirit :) <3

  11. BIG hugs to each of you for sharing your comments on this post. I think "scheduling" is a big deal for a lot of us and this really ties into the need that so many of us have to reduce clutter in our lives. I'm excited to be back and thank each of you for stopping by for a visit from time-to-time! xo


Thanks for sharing!