We’ve all done it. Whether waiting in line, walking into the lift, or waiting for a friend, we’ve pulled out our smartphone and started randomly tapping on whatever — without even thinking about it.
But what if you don’t want to live your life on autopilot and enthralled to your smartphone? What can you do?
Introducing the Smart 10 Challenge
I’ve been using a little mindfulness trick to help me break my smartphone obsession. I call it the Smart 10 Challenge: When I feel the urge to pull out my phone, I first breathe in and out for 10 counts.
(Meditators will recognize that counting your breath is one of the ways to focus your mind during meditation.)
After I breathe in and out for 10 counts, if I really feel like using my smartphone, then I’ll do it. But now I’m doing it deliberately instead of unconsciously.
If I find that I don’t want my phone that much anymore, I’ll continue breathing for another 10 counts, and repeat for as long as I want.
I’ve found that doing this has helped me break my smartphone obsession, and helped me become present in the moment.
3 rules for the Smart 10
There are three rules for the Smart 10 Challenge.
- It helps to focus on one specific spot when breathing — specifically, the tip of the nostrils where breath enters the body
- You can count one breath on the in-breath or out, whichever is easier for you — I do it on the out-breath
- It has to be a full and clear count, if you find that you’ve lost count or gone beyond 10, it means that you’ve lost your focus and have to start again
Break Your Smartphone Obsession by Coming Back to the Present
I’ve used the Smart 10 lots of times while waiting for someone or something, or when being with someone, to interrupt that nagging feeling that makes me reach for my smartphone.
Sometimes I don’t even need to reach the full 10 breaths before I realize that the urge to check my smartphone has dissipated.
To be honest, I don’t always have the presence of mind to remember the Smart 10 before I whip out my phone, but if I remember I’ll put my phone back in my pocket, then do the challenge.
If this pre-step is already difficult for you, I suggest starting a short but regular meditation practice to help give you the awareness you need.
Give it a go!