Spirituality and Addiction
Week Forty-Six Summary and Practice
Sunday, November 14—Friday, November 19, 2021
Until and unless there is a person, situation, event, idea, conflict, or relationship that we cannot “manage,” we will never find the True Manager. —Richard Rohr
We are all addicted to our own habitual way of doing anything, our own defenses, and, most especially, our patterned way of thinking, or how we process reality. —Richard Rohr
Twice a year we pause the Daily Meditations to ask for your support. If you’ve been impacted by these meditations, please consider donating. Any amount is appreciated, as we are committed to keeping these messages at no cost and accessible to all.
The spiritual significance of addiction is not just that we lose freedom through attachment to things, nor even that things so easily become our ultimate concerns. Of much more importance is that we try to fulfill our longing for God through objects of attachment. —Gerald May
What if the brokenness has no authority at all over us? What if only love has the authority over us? That’s the essence of the gospel. —James Finley
Surrender is the strongest, most subversive thing you can do in this world. It takes strength to admit you are weak, bravery to show you are vulnerable, courage to ask for help. —Holly Whitaker
Enjoy a Tech Sabbath
Author Tiffany Shlain offers a practice she calls a “Technology Sabbath” as a way of reducing our addiction to technology and our personal devices. She writes:
How often have you looked up from your screen, eyes dazed, and realized you’ve just wasted thirty minutes or an hour or more? You look around and see everyone else with their heads down staring at their screens, too. You worry about how this is affecting you as an individual and society at large. You think you should do something about it, then your phone buzzes, you respond to the text, and you’re pulled back to the screen again. We’ve become ostriches, burying our heads in silicon sand.
Researchers have compared the sense of technological dependency—the feeling that we must be accessible and responsive at any time—to that of drugs and alcohol. It’s all because of the hormone dopamine, which is related to mood, attention, and desire. When you find something that feels good, dopamine makes you want more of it.
Shlain has creatively adapted the Jewish practice of Sabbath to reduce our dependence on technology. She makes several suggestions for individuals and families to prepare for a day with no devices:
What brings you joy?
Think about all the (screen-free) activities you enjoy doing that you just don’t do enough. . . .
Consider your own tradition or history
What foods or practices from your childhood, family, faith, or culture would make the day more meaningful for you?
Consider your intentions
What qualities do you want to develop? . . .
What habits do you want to break?
How do you want to feel when the day is over?
Shlain offers a list of practical suggestions to get ready for what she calls “24/6,” based on her own decade of practice:
How to prepare for 24/6
A little thinking ahead will help you get more out of the day.
Plan your first Tech Shabbat
- Look at your calendar and determine what weekend day (or weekday) you’re going to start. Mark down several weeks in a row. The power and beauty of this practice come with its regularity. In time you will look forward to it each week.
- Look at the list of things you want to do more of. Plan to fill your screen-free day with activities from that list. You can even print the list, post it on your fridge, and reference it throughout the day. Or fill the day with doing nothing, if that’s what you need and want.
- Invite anyone you want to join you for a meal, an activity, or the whole day. . . .
- Get a landline. You can get one for as little as $20 a month.
- Tell people in your life (family, friends, coworkers, boss) you’re planning to do this. Don’t come from a place of apology, but a place of strength and excitement. If they express concern or curiosity, invite them to a Tech Shabbat dinner so they can experience it with you.
Experience a version of this practice through video and sound.
Tiffany Shlain, 24/6: The Power of Unplugging One Day a Week (Gallery Books: 2019), xiii–xiv, 6, 179, 180, 182–183.
Learn more about the Daily Meditations Editorial Team.