Offline is the new luxury (14)

Time spent on your smartphone: how could you pass it more wisely? And what exactly does it do for you? Each Friday, Irene, who together with Astrid is the founder of Flow, writes about this particular issue.

Recently, I forced an offline morning on myself. I was so tired of keeping all the plates spinning that I was desperate for a moment of peace in my head. So on Tuesday, I shoved my smartphone all the way to the bottom of my bag, and took the train to Amsterdam. My (good) intention: not to take the phone out of my bag before 3 p.m. I found it a difficult thing to do, because I was going to spend the day doing a course in the city but still had to work out how my daughter would get to her hockey training that afternoon and there were a few work e-mails that really had to be answered. But hey. I cycled to the station, I sat on a bench waiting for the train to arrive, I walked along the canals, I got a takeaway coffee and all the while, my senses seemed to have been switched to ‘on’. I heard all kinds of songs from the past that brought with them so many memories; I saw a blue angel with golden wings on top of an Amsterdam building; I spotted ceilings with beautiful ornaments as I peered inside the houses I passed by; I smelled the water in the canals and the autumn air; I felt the wind stroking my face; I watched the ducks swimming along; and I studied the faces of the people on the train. I also noticed—all of a sudden—just how many colors there were in the leaves and how many lay on the ground after Sunday’s storm. And by now, you may be thinking, ‘Okay, what exactly is your point here?’. Well, that’s exactly it: My point is—quite literally—about nothing. And that is what made it so nice. No apps that demanded my attention, no e-mails that demanded a reply, no chats, no planning, no ideas. Nothing. When I arrived at the Center for Mindfulness, where I’ve been taking a course about mindfulness for teens, my mind was deliciously quiet. And I can’t recommend it highly enough: Focus on the now, pay attention to the moment. It’s much easier if your smartphone is hidden in the depths of your bag.

Illustration: Isabelle Schippers