5 minute vacuum

Technology may be pulling us forward, but our habits have all gone wrong. We wake up to the cacophonies of an iPhone. We engage in 13 actions and respond to 17 emails before even brushing our teeth. We get distracted constantly by constant text messages, useless Linked anniversaries, and invites to play Candy Crush Saga. And now we rely on technology to tell us how sound our sleep was. The goal of every vacation has shrunk to competitively capture the beauty on Instagram. The phrase ‘good morning, so good to see you!’ has been replaced with a lazy-ass soft chin-up movement. How many friends do we have on Facebook that we’ve never even said ‘hello’ to? Those five minutes of ‘nothing-to-do’ vacuum puts a scare and we quickly grab onto any piece of electronic item available in sight.

I wish to go backwards when the times were simpler – the days when your mom woke you up, the days when you ran to the mailbox in hopes of finding a hand-written letter, the days when you didn’t know who’s knocking on your door – lesser bills, blank calendars, and the days of calmer thoughts.

It won’t happen in a day, week, or a month – but slowly and gently, we could insert some old times. A few ideas that I’ve personally implemented:

Deactivate vibration, light-sensor, sounds, and notifications on cell phone. I’ll see that you called, texted, tagged when I see it. I started with constantly looking at my phone every 2 mins, but it has since decreased significantly. At least this way, I can give my full attention to the slice of hazelnut cake, a conversation, or even a thought. Writing this in a stretch also comes easy.

Leave cell phone home when going for crossfit and yoga. After 90 minutes of hard core effort in deep breathing and pushing away the stubborn thoughts, I see a few jumping on their phones eager and desperate to know what changed in those 90 minutes.

Forget your cell phone in the car when going for groceries. I can’t say for all, but grocery shopping brings a natural smile on my face – it’s a Disneyland for the cooking-enthusiasts. Picking just the right bunch of cilantro, comparing fiber content on 8 kinds of multi-grain breads, and choosing the top 2 from the 200 avocados that all look the same is a delight.

Interact once a day, choose to walk up to a person instead of calling or emailing. Say hi, share a joke, exchange a firm handshake, and collect points on human interaction.

Block it all and create a no-screen day – no TV, no iPad, no smart phone, and no laptop. Instead, spend a few hours at Barnes & Nobles, pick up a book to research on your next travel, the Anatomy of your spirit, the Economist, or get updated on the latest Hollywood gossip. If not a fan, walk to the farmer’s market and pick the top 2 avocados. Start a sketch book. Create a puzzle. Write a letter.

Relinquish and let others win – At a meeting, happy hour, or dinner, stack up your S4’s, iPhones, and the rest who think they’re even in the competition! The first one to pull their phone has to pay the bill. I recently forced my ex-boss and colleagues on this and guess who paid the bill?

Create a vacuum for 5-minutes. Think of nothing. Think nothing. Do nothing.

Smile. Create a 5-minute smile window. Smile for the good things in and around you. Smile while remembering a loving moment. Smile for that time when you farted and no one noticed. Smile for falling down in the water while learning how to paddleboard. Smile while thinking of me. Smile for it’s free with no disclaimers in tiny text. Smile just because this exercise feels ridiculous. If nothing, go ahead and click play!


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