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  • Yoga Lili

You keep me hanging on the (smart)(tele)phone


Irish mobile phone usage is the highest in the western world, global statistics revealed not so long ago. That we Irish people are the biggest phone internet users in the western world can't come as much surprise to (m)any of us.

A recent survey found that now, over 90% of Irish population have access to a smartphone.

And in that group of smartphone users in Ireland, on average, we check our devices 57 times a day, a new survey has found...

A recent Telegraph article caught my attention

- the average person in the UK spends more than a day a week online, according to a landmark report on the impact of the “decade of the smartphone”. People are on average online for 24 hours a week, twice as long as 10 years ago, with one in five of all adults spending as much as 40 hours a week on the web.

We need to pause right here!

Take out (on average) 8 hours of sleep a day x 7 days = 56 hours

Take out (on average) 8 hours of work a day x 5 days = 40 hours.

There are 168 hours in a week.

So minus sleep & work time (168 hours less 56 hours less 40 hours) leaves 72 hours.

SO 24 HOURS ONLINE IS ACTUALLY A THIRD OF OUR TIME!!!

And I haven't even allowed/taken out time for eating, cooking, shopping, commuting, talking to people, playing sports, watching a movie, reading a book...

WTF!!!

- CHILDREN spend twice as long on smartphones as they do talking to their parents. How sad & depressing is that? Also makes one wonder how many partners/spouses fit into that category too? There's a LOT of smartphone "widows/widowers" out there... A small expensive toy is now commanding our collective attention spans & precious free time rather than our nearest & dearest, our friends, our colleagues, our neighbours & most importantly, ourselves.

Meanwhile, at the same time, we learnt just this month that young women in Ireland have the highest levels of depression in Europe. Anxiety levels are literally off the charts. Yes, here in IRELAND.

Tragically, there have been no less than 5 young female deaths by suicide only down the road from where I live in just the last two months, according to local Ballyfermot community workers. Three of these were mothers of young children & all were in their 20's. Such a horrific tragic waste of young life & devastating to families, friends, communities.

The ever-increasing lack of real true & meaningful connections in our lives now is beyond scary. At the same time, the pressure to conform & perform for social media affects so many people of all ages & backgrounds now but particularly young vulnerable women. They are so susceptible to the lies pedalled online by influencers & marketers about

'living your best life'... 'going for your dream'... 'try harder & you will achieve everything you desire'... 'manifest your destiny'... "if you believe, you can succeed"...

And if you don't, if you "fail", well, then you didn't try hard enough did you? If you're anxious, it's because you didn't 'believe' enough; if you didn't 'reach your potential' it's all because YOU didn't 'channel the magic' hard enough (someone please pass the sick-bucket stat).

It's absolutely nothing to do with coming from a place of scarcity, neglect, abuse, economic deprivation, non-inclusion, political disenfranchisement, or lack of access to education, good nutrition, support & encouragement. Nope, it's just YOU didn't believe enough, try hard enough, do enough, be enough - it's all on your own little fragile & vulnerable head, shoulders & heart isn't it?

The message is that you're simply not 'thriving' due to your own failure to 'step up' - it couldn't be anything to do with, as above, basically scrambling to survive in a world of colossal rents, zero-contract hours work, exorbitant prices for real, nutritious food, lack of access to mental health services, insane waiting times for healthcare in nearly every speciality & on & on & on. Could it?

Have you noticed how the vast majority of these online & IRL 'human potential' hucksters are ALL middle-to-upper class, highly-educated, white, able-bodied young-to-youngish men and women?

People who have generally come from, live in & glide through a realm of privilege & access? So much so, they can't even see that THEY are in a gilded-go-to-the-VIP part of life & just take it for granted that they are where they are because they are 'worth it', that they 'deserve' it. That they are the 'chosen' ones & aren't where they are in life due to the very simple fact of what they were born into & what they inherited & how they were raised (very much like He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named in the USA - think Oompah Lumpah in a suit). This attitude is what is tearing us apart right now, all around the world, economically, politically, & racially.

Working hard & doing well is not a crime. Neither is enjoying what you do & benefitting from your talents & efforts. I believe in that. Of course I do. We don't have to be hair-shirt wearing self-abnegating miserabilists to be 'worthy' or to be seen as living on a 'true path'. But denying the actuality of what it takes to 'get ahead', to 'prosper' when there are so many who have come from nothing (or worse than nothing) is a great unkindness we could all do without. Some of us would just like to get to a place where simply living a life where every bill isn't a potential stress-fest would be 'making it'.

What's all this got to do with smartphones & mental health (& Yoga?!) you ask?

Well if we are going to spend so much time online, we have HAVE to be far more discerning. UNFOLLOW the accounts that make you feel like sh*t basically - you know the ones. UNFOLLOW anyone peddling you 'human potential' expensive 'aspirational' courses, retreats, products - THESE ARE JUST A SHELL GAME - please do not listen to these misleading arseholes.

Why do you think they know any better how YOU should live your life? They're basically making money out of misery & getting to be fat-cats off selling you something that literally doesn't exist.

FOLLOW accounts that spark joy, lift you up, that are truly real-life encouraging & real-world supporting (one caveat here - some people have 'copped' that sharing supposed "times of hardship" gets them to seem 'more real ' - you'll know the real from the fake, trust me - it's a bit like those X-Factor "tell us the trauma" moments 😬!) .

And FUN! Follow fun people. Follow actually 'inspiring' people who are doing their bit to make their community & world a better, happier, more inclusive & kinder place - whether it's through politics, music, comedy, film, fashion, food, keeping nature clean & pristine, you name it! Not the ones who want to fill THEIR bank accounts with YOUR hard-earned cash.

I can highly recommend one particular account if you haven't discovered it already. It's called 'i-weigh' (it is NOT by any means all about weight!) - please do check it out. Jameela Jamil (of The Good Place tv show fame - she plays the hilarious Tahani) has done amazing work calling out the ummm 'horse-manure' pedalled by the likes of oh the Kardashians et al (think detox teas, weight-loss lollipops etc 🙄). She is a fun genuine & committed thorn in the side of all those fake-ass online folks we could all do without.

As for the link to Yoga? Well so much of the above applies to our Yoga. Does the teacher, class, 'style' of Yoga, studio you go to welcome & include YOU? Or is it all set-up for the 'beautiful people'? All geared towards accommodating the genetically preternaturally flexible folks (you know - the ones who could be in Cirque De Soleil!)? Do people there know your name? Do they even say HELLO???

And who we do follow/listen to online in the insta-Yoga world? Are we consistently viewing so-called 'advanced' poses (& people) that then make us feel flat/down about our own personal practice?

We need to realise that advanced 'Yoga' is just 'asana' - just 1/8 of all of what encompasses Yoga if you want to think of it that way (the 8 Limbs of Yoga). But even if where we are at right now is the physical 'asana' part of practice - even then, 'advanced' is a loaded & pretty unhelpful term. One person's advanced is another's injury (or even that very same person's...). Do you want to leave your Yoga mat feeling restored, relaxed, calm & centred? Or leave it feeling depleted, not good enough, exhausted & lacking?

It's just like our Social Media habits. All these 'inputs', these attitudes & influences, on & off the mat, affect us all - much much more than we think.

Finally, on a lighter but practical note, just think how much more TIME we'd have for Yoga class, Yoga practice, rest & fun & music, football & comedy gigs, picnics, baking, making art, reading & gardening, tinkering with an engine, all the varied many things we really love, if we just got off our goddamned phones! 😉

Mind yourself

Yoga Lili x

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