How to do a Digital Cleanse

by Delight Yoga

We practice yoga to find a connection to the present moment and bring our attention inwards. But how can we stay in the here and now when we are constantly distracted by what’s happening on Instagram? The technology that connects us to our loved ones is designed to pull us in, stealing our attention and keeping it away from the here and now.

So how can we use technology intentionally, instead of constantly living outside of the present moment? The answer might lie in digital minimalism.

What is digital minimalism?
Minimalism is a lifestyle that focuses on living with less. Digital minimalism applies the minimalist philosophy into our digital lives. Cal Newport, an Associate Professor of Computer Science at Georgetown University, defines digital minimalism as “a philosophy that helps you question what digital communication tools (and behaviours surrounding these tools) add the most value to your life. It is motivated by the belief that intentionally and aggressively clearing away low-value digital noise, and optimizing your use of the tools that really matter, can significantly improve your life.”

But how does this relate to yoga?
Digital minimalism plays into many different aspects of yogic philosophy, but most specifically, the Yamas and Niyamas - yoga’s “10 Commandments”. The Yamas and Niyamas are ethical guidelines for our everyday lives, and being conscious about what digital content you consume is supported by many of the Yamas and Niyamas. Brahmacharya (right use of energy), Aparigraha (non-greed or non-attachment), Saucha (cleanliness), and Santosha (contentment) all correspond to minimalism, making it a natural part of a yogic lifestyle.

So, how can we practice Digital Minimalism, particularly in a year where our lives take place over Zoom calls?

This blog post will walk you through a cleanse to simplify your digital life and inner landscape in five simple steps. 

1. Declutter your device
Ask yourself which apps and devices you actually use and are helpful to your mental health, and which ones are not beneficial to you. Take the time to delete any that you use as a distraction, organize your apps, photos and files, and clean your desktop (do this at least once a week to find things faster). You’ll find your mind is more peaceful when the devices you use every day are clean and easy to navigate.

2. Make your device less addictive
Be proactive and minimize any functions of your devices that easily distract you from the present moment. An excellent tip: disable all app notifications, turn on do not disturb, and unsubscribe from useless mailing lists.

3. Take control over your screen time 
Most phones have the option to install measures that protect you from wasting too much time on different apps. Create time limits for apps you know take your attention, and take a look at your screen time summaries. Are they where you want them to be? Think of easy steps you can take to reduce your time on your phone (such as a “phone curfew”).

4. Distance yourself from your phone as much as possible 
Studies have shown that simply having your phone in your peripheral vision can distract your attention. So social distance from your devices! Put the phone out of sight, buy an alarm clock instead of keeping your phone by your bed, and keep devices away from mealtimes. A fun challenge: spend as much time on a walk outside as you do on Instagram, and then see how you feel. 

5. Fully disconnect from the digital world at least one day a week.
Take a day off to reset and recharge. Try to spend most of your day offline, unless absolutely necessary. It not only clears your head, leading to increased creativity and peace of mind, but any difficulty you have staying away from my phone will remind you of how attached you are to the device.

If you’re interested in starting a minimalist lifestyle, remember that just like yoga, it’s a practice. All you can do is your best, each day.