Overworked, Overwired, Overtired? Then Disconnect by Kate Brunner


Kate close up at Llyn MorwynionI have this belief that there used to be boundaries between work and home; between boss/employee and family. That there used to be space to take a deep breath and let go for a minute. That most jobs did not require one to be on-call nonstop. Perhaps this perception is erroneous. Perhaps it’s a notion I picked up from thirty to fifty year old sitcoms. Perhaps childhood memories aren’t as sharp as they use to be and I was just too young to be aware of any work-related activities intruding on my parents’ family time. But it is still there- this notion in my head that “back in the day” the work day actually ended; that we could put down our tools and go home to rest for a bit before returning to the assorted tasks at hand.

As a young Army lieutenant, my peers and I joked that mobile phones and email were the worst things to ever happen to our work place. I’m not joking anymore. Don’t mistake me for a completely puritanical technophobe. I own a smartphone & a Chromebook, have social media accounts, live in a wifi-enabled house, etc.– heck, here I am blogging, editing, & project weaving in a digital collective that publishes content every single day. I multi-task shamelessly, answer emails at all hours, and work my work in and among social & familial activities. I am absolutely guilty of what I am writing to protest against today.

And yet….

Should I be doing these things? Are doing these things in the best interest of body & soul?

No. I’m just going to go ahead and put that right out there. In my opinion, no. The never-ending work/school day, the implied requirement that one be electronically accessible at all hours, the expectation that you do all this AND spend time with family/friends AND actively participate in your community (faith-based, or otherwise) means that we live in a constant physical & spiritual fight-or-flight state, burning out our adrenals & our chakras in record time.

In the spiritual arena we talk a lot about connecting– to the Divine in various forms, to the Self, to the Earth, etc. But what about DIS-connecting? This concept seems to consistently be painted in a negative light. Feeling disconnected seems to primarily be a bad thing, a sign of some sort of pathology. And even when it’s portrayed more positively, it’s usually implied that you’ll be connecting with something else instead. For example, going camping to disconnect from work seems to come with the expectation that one will connect with nature, instead.

But could disconnect possibly become a potentially important spiritual practice for our lifetimes? I’m not talking about squeezing even more mindfulness meditations, yoga sessions, novenas, or full moon rituals into an already overloaded schedule. I’m talking about the radical notion of pulling back and DISconnecting everywhere completely all at once, if only for a finite period of time.

Oooh…. Hear that? Hear the voices in your & my heads that just immediately started listing all the reasons why this is a completely impossible, impractical, unnecessary, absurd, ridiculous notion? Sense the gigantic mountain of resistance to this idea that just sprung up in front of us? See the mental to-do lists unfurling as Exhibit A for why this is not only impossible, but a downright dangerous notion? We have responsibilities. We have people counting on us. We have to get paid. We have to care-give. We have to keep going. Disconnection is just not an option. Right?

But maybe, just maybe, we could begin to make it a slightly more viable option with small acts of disconnection here and there.

For me, this looks like lying on my floor for five minutes. I can’t take credit for this genius notion– my chiropractor actually recommended it to me. But in the era of constant work, constant self-improvement, constant commitment, constant care-giving, constant communicating, constant demand for connection, (and on, and on), lying on my floor for five minutes right now seems like an act of total rebellion.

What might a small, personal rebellion of disconnection look like for you?

 

Kate Brunner is a writer, healer, ritualist, & member of The Sisterhood of Avalon, studying at the Avalonian Thealogical Seminary. She is a somewhat nomadic American, homeschooling her children with the world as their classroom. She holds a BA from Tulane University, where she studied Economics, International Relations, & Religious Traditions. Kate is a presenter for Red Tents & women’s retreats. She also hosts seasonal women’s gatherings, facilitates labyrinth rituals, and leads workshops on an assortment of women’s spirituality topics.

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Categories: General, Spirituality, Women and Work

Tags: , , ,

17 replies

  1. This is so true. I have not connected my cell phone to internet or email because I don’t want to be distracted being present to my physical life at every moment.

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  2. “Oooh…. Hear that? Hear the voices in your & my heads that just immediately started listing all the reasons why this is a completely impossible, impractical, unnecessary, absurd, ridiculous notion? Sense the gigantic mountain of resistance to this idea that just sprung up in front of us? See the mental to-do lists unfurling as Exhibit A for why this is not only impossible, but a downright dangerous notion? We have responsibilities. We have people counting on us. We have to get paid. We have to care-give. We have to keep going. Disconnection is just not an option. Right?”

    Interesting assumption that my voices and yours sing the same songs. Let me share what was really heard within as your article unfurled word by word by line by paragraph.

    Hooray! At last! one of these younger dear hearts is getting it. There is actual truth to the oft-tossed-about aphorism, “you create your own life.”

    All these devices have off switches. Unless one is actually on-call, one is at home, not at the workplace. It is up to each person to create, craft, and ultimately live their own life and not the life of the neighbor, the employer, the yoga class buddies, the self-crafted image of the hectoring and usually completely fictional peer/drill instructor endless driving one onward and upward to greater and better positions/jobs/peacefulness/breathing …

    Perhaps it’s generational. One grew up spending much time outside, seeking activities, games, people, or solitude. Yes, there is a very smart phone in my purse, and a conveniently-sized pad, and a laptop, and they’re just tools. The musical instruments one plays take time to gain mastery and so regular practicing remains part of one’s life. Two decades of a single, very helpful, very engaging and life-changing spiritual path has helped one pay attention to the breath. So simple, yet also the work of a lifetime to start to realize just how important it is to stop, breathe properly, return with new attention and focus and even clarity to whatever task was helping distract one from life within, without, and all around.

    There is no requirement to take up the mantle of the endlessly active, over-booked, over-worked. It is always an individual choice. You will not die if you turn off the phone.

    We are here to live, to serve one another, to increase love, harmony, and beauty in this world. It is always our own choice to participate in this life, or to keep running about being distracted by everything this world offers to keep us tired, separate (perpetual electronic connection is not truly connecting), frazzled, and unable to truly live.

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  3. You might be interested in this blog article, and also the comment-discussion that follows:

    http://www.3quarksdaily.com/3quarksdaily/2016/01/we-have-become-exhausted-slaves-in-a-culture-of-positivity.html

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  4. I used to think the workday ended at 5 p.m., too. Back in the 90s when I was doing temp work in offices, I was glad to get away from work. But you know how it is when you’re self-employed. We can work any 25-30 hours of the day, any 10-12 days of the week, any 45-50 days of the month. Technology is only partly to blame for that, but it certainly contributes to the overload. It’s good and useful to be connected. But maybe some of us don’t want to be too connected, at least not all the time.

    I’ve been a rebel all my life–and I was a teenager in the 1950, when the only rebels on the planet (as I knew it) were James Dean and Marlon Brando. I have a PC, an iPad, and a cellphone. My phone is only a telephone, and I almost never sit down at this PC after about 4 in the afternoon. I use the iPad in the evenings to look stuff up while I’m watching DVDs, like, to see who’s playing which character or the background of the composer of the music. Very occasional email.

    I guess that’s my personal rebellion.

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  5. Wonderful post, Kate! Inspiring question. Will be contemplating how best to rebel! I have found focusing on writing much more difficult since the advent of email and now social media. Speaking of difficulties, I have been working on my FAR post all week. About to send it. Am so grateful for your technical support. It is good to know that you will lie down on the floor when necessary.

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  6. “What might a small, personal rebellion of disconnection look like for you?”

    Good question. For me, it’s about exercise. Happily I love taking long walks, and so that lures me away, hooray. Still my website gives me a focus I enjoy and I can do research online which can then be very helpful.

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  7. I find it interesting to look on taking care of all aspects of ourselves as rebellion. This ,for me ,gives power to that way of seeing the world. It works better for me to let those demanding beliefs of the rightness of conforming and that any other choice is a rebellion go unheeded.
    I try to let them gently but firmly float by and say my thank you by closing my eyes,breathing deep full breathes and listening. It is awesome and nothing else communicates quite like it.Thanks for bringing awareness and helping me to define what it is I do to myself!

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  8. Great post. I appreciate that you don’t indulge in judgement or rampant negativity about information technology in our lives, but you do invite us to rebel. For me that means exercise every day — without my phone, and mostly outside. It means no electronics at the family dinner table (crazy that this should even be a thing!) as well as home-cooked meals most nights. And recently I deleted by iPad Scrabble app. There was an addiction happening. But I think I need a bigger rebellion, such as tech-free Sundays. Thanks for the inspiration.

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  9. So good, Kate, such a great reflection. I’m with you – right there joining you on the floor – I love that small idea. And your reflection as a whole. Thanks for this!

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  10. Reblogged this on Fakhra's Musings and commented:
    I would go for a walk on a quiet early morning or shut down the computer pretending it doesn’t exist, and cover my eyes with mud mask [for five minutes].

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  11. I guess I’m pretty disconnected, and that’s fine with me. I have a cell phone that I use only while traveling. And my laptop, which connects me only to things I want to read or view, like the conversations here on FAR. How we connect is definitely generational. My daughter doesn’t answer the telephone and doesn’t return emails very promptly, so I had to learn how to text on my clunky flip-phone to get her attention. But then she calls me on my land line.

    I need a little more rebellion in my life. Something I do for no reason whatsoever. Last night it was sitting in the dark and just admiring our solstice tree (which is still up). It made me smile for no reason.

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  12. Very true article, a paradox in itself where we are always trying to be connected to the world, we sometimes have a disconnect from our reality. I always thought and believed that at the end of the day the levels of technology will end up more negative than positive. It leaves a nervous pressure on most people to feel like they always need to be there to respond, answer, work, at all hours of the day. Sure, it can make life more convenient and easy, but at what cost? It is unfortunately too late to change any of this, people are all now too used to having their phones glued to their hands, because not only is it constant entertainment, it is constant accessibility and direct contact to whomever they want to reach in a matter of moments. While too much of this might take us away from living in the present, it is just where the modern times have moved to. The key is to have the right balance, and know when to disconnect. Just like the issues of balance women face with feminism, and their respective religions as we have learned throughout this semester!

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  13. Reading your post made me realize how valid your statements are. Nowadays people are so into technology that it is all they surround themselves with.And of course, times are changing and technology is only advancing, but there are other things we should take account for in life that we should appreciate. Whether it is at home or at work, we never take a break and appreciate other things in life that are more important. If there is a great moment, we have the tendency to capture it in a picture and post it or tweet about it. Sometimes is it just best to embrace the moment within yourself because at the end of the day the only person who is gonna feel the great feeling is you, not the person who saw it online. Personally I try to “DISconnect” myself from life just by sitting where ever I am and just embracing my life, appreciating what I have in my life, and connecting with nature that I am here and not on the internet.

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  14. Separating different spheres of our lives is an idea we all have taken for granted and have strengthened this assumption for years. Following the virtualization of the little things in life known as the Internet of Things, this immersion of virtualization will only increase. A wise, proactive and responsible person will allow to temporarily disconnect from one’s surroundings, including important ones like faith, mindfulness and other forms of personal maintenances. Rather than thinking of this as ‘disconnecting’ it’d be nice to think of this as a ‘realignment’.

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  15. What might a small, personal rebellion of disconnection look like for you?

    Sitting by the window at a coffee shop and just watching time pass by as I take sips from my iced latte and a few bites from a blueberry muffin.

    Personal disconnect and reflection is so crucial because if you lose sight of yourself, you won’t really perform to the best of your ability. This is such a relevant read. I’m a college student and that already means that I’m glued to my electronics by nature. I literally use my phone, computer, tablet, headphones, etc. for the sole purpose of getting through the hustle and bustle of school everyday. At times, It would feel nice to just sit and not worry about any deadlines or meetings but life is just so busy, especially if you work part-time, or are involved in other things like clubs. I just wonder how this context would change if I fast-forward ten years from now, when I’m a mother, or a career-woman, or even both. The struggle to balance a busy life while still trying to find time for myself seems a bit daunting because If your roles increase, your time decreases.

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  16. I love this post, I think it’s so easy to constantly keep going and get caught up in the next thing. I am definitely guilty of this myself and experienced results of when things just got to be too much. Something that really got my attention was this:

    “The never-ending work/school day, the implied requirement that one be electronically accessible at all hours, the expectation that you do all this AND spend time with family/friends AND actively participate in your community (faith-based, or otherwise) means that we live in a constant physical & spiritual fight-or-flight state, burning out our adrenals & our chakras in record time.”

    I believe that I, myself, am such a people pleaser and perfectionist, so for me it was never, not implied that I would be on my phone so I could always be helping or always be there. I just assumed. This insight gave me a perspective I’ve never seen before. I haven’t been thinking about the bigger picture. Being glued to you phone, tablet, computer, etc.. 24/7 does put physical and spiritual fight-or-flight stress on our body and soul. And we all know that stress can do crazy things.

    What might a small, personal rebellion of disconnection look like for you?

    A small, personal rebellion for me is going on a run or hike near my house, getting rid of the bad vibes, and taking in all the good vibrations around me that I was forgetting about.

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