Unplug to connect

Switch off your mobile phone at home and spend quality time with family members, writes Arvind Mehan

Recently I went to see my ENT specialist to get my hearing checked. It was quite normal except for a slight loss in the high frequency range. I immediately asked him if the high frequency bandwidth includes the female voice because my wife had been complaining that she had to repeat her words many times to get me to listen properly. He most certainly disagreed and said it was due to nothing else but lack of attentiveness. There went my excuse and I was disappointed.

But one thing my doctor did mention was that extensive use of mobile phones can cause loss of hearing on a long-term basis and on the short-term, they can cause loss of ‘connectivity’ with the family at home. As a friend, he recommended to me to switch off or unplug my mobile when I am at home and spend quality time with family members and try to ‘connect" with them.

As an electrical engineer, I found it hard to understand how unplugging would enable me to connect, but after introspection I finally did.

How many times do we experience that either a mobile ring or a work-related stress can come in the way of truly being present in the moment? Apart from the phone, if we can unplug ourselves from work-related issues once we step inside our homes in the evening, we can start connecting with our spouses and children. By the same token, if we learn to unplug ourselves from domestic issues once we step into our offices in the morning, we can immediately start connecting with our team, or if one is let’s say, a teacher, one would connect with the students immediately and put one’s mind and heart into the class. Consequently, there will be lesser stresses or issues to take home, thus improving the quality of life both at work
and home.

Talking about experiences, I was once standing and talking to a friend at a party when suddenly his mobile rang and he turned away and started talking endlessly to the extent that I felt deserted and had to turn away to find another friend. No apologies or coming back later. So much for the friendship!

Another time recently, I stepped into a store asking for something, when I noticed that the owner standing at the counter was so preoccupied with messaging on the mobile that he failed to listen to me for what I wanted and I decided to go away to another store. One would think that if he would be doing that with everyone, he would be losing all his customers. So much for his livelihood! Similarly in a meeting once, I was addressing an important issue to someone when I noticed that he actually didn’t register a word of mine and went on messaging on his mobile and saying, "hun, hun, hun!" So much for the meeting!

A foundation called Mindful Life recently launched the ‘Hang up and Hang out’ challenge designed to help facilitate more meaningful parent/child engagement. Parents were supposed to hang up their phones and unplug the televisions and laptops for a one-week trial to hang out with their children to see if communication and empathy improved. Face-to-face interactions in the evenings and mindful moments spent while hanging out together went a long way in making up for family issues that may have been hanging in the balance. I think all these experiments prove that if we learn to unplug from the world and connect with who we are at the moment, we would have a more meaningful life. What if we were all by ourselves? Again, do the same thing — try to unplug yourself from the world and connect to your soul within. Isn’t that what they call meditation?