Screen Fast as a Spiritual Practice

My kids were on school vacation last week, and we had no plans to go anywhere. The stage was set for a week-long binge of video games, Netflix, endless social media scrolling, and general tech-saturation. Until...

I declared the entire time a Screen Fast (with the full support of my husband, of course - I'm not wild enough to try a stunt like that without backup!).

The rules were simple: no screens of any kind could be used in the house. No pods, pads, phones, computers, TV...nada, zip, zilch. I wasn't going to enforce it outside the house, and I was allowed a couple of hours per day to work online (the commitment of a daily blog doesn't have provision for half the blogging team to disappear on a whim). I did nearly all of my work after the kids were in bed so I wasn't rubbing their noses in it.

The wailing and gnashing of teeth commenced on Day 1 and was truly an impressive combined effort. Rarely have our 3 children shown such unity of purpose. By Day 3, the protests were cursory. By Day 9, they were grudgingly proud of their accomplishment. We did make one exception for a Harry Potter movie on Day 8, after they'd listened to the 20+ hours of audio book - I'm not a total monster.

Magic happened that week. With the siren song of the screens silenced, we were all freed to indulge in a rich assortment of books, jigsaw puzzles, creativity, imaginative play, and good old-fashioned togetherness. There was suddenly time to meditate, daydream, and sleep without FOMO. It was a return to a simpler time (and not the manufactured simpler time of politicians immemorial).

I know that a week without screens is no big deal, and yet for our time and place, it seems like it is. The reactions we got when we disclosed our little tech vaca ran the gamut from disbelief to admiration to outright jealousy. "We could never do that!" and "Wow, are you guys ready to kill each other yet?" were heard more often than, "Good for you!" - though we did here that an encouraging number of times.

It really was good for us. Even the kids noticed that there was a palpable peace in our home without the background buzz. It was a peace that created space for Spirit and for genuine connection. It was exactly the balm that we needed, and we're all healthier and happier for it. I'm planning to make screen fasting a regular part of our routine - and I bet that the resistance will be half-hearted if there is any at all.

If you're feeling depleted, drained, disconnected - try a screen fast. Turn them off. Put them away. Even if it's only for a day or two. You'll survive it, I promise. 

And notice what happens.



Barbara HolbrookComment