I think at first when people hear someone encouraging them to quit social media they feel some resistance, okay in some cases a lot of resistance. But most people I talk to about this issue recognize that social media and smartphone use is not something that enhances their quality of life, yet they resist stopping completely. I’ve come across the work of a few technology professionals who are encouraging people to quit social media. This book is one of the best ones I found. Jared Lanier is another author I recommend.
Although, Newport’s book is geared towards professional development, I feel the practices discussed in the book are critical to successful spiritual and divination practices. I was drawn to Cal Newport’s work because for the last few years I noticed my ability to focus deteriorating. Years ago, I had a strong meditation practice (I used eastern style or Buddhist meditation techniques). At that time, I felt that my ability to focus was reasonably good. But as the use of smart phones and social media crept into my life my ability to focus dropped. My meditate practice suffered and eventually completely stopped. This has become even worse in the last 3 to 4 years.
I’m a mom and my time is a precious commodity. But really isn’t it for us all? Most people these days say it feels like there is never enough time in a day. But after reading this book I realize that there is enough time in the day, it’s what we do with it that makes the difference. If I spend my day constantly distracted and in a state of fragmented focus, there isn’t enough time to get everything done. I’m “busy” all the time. But if I can focus deeply on what I’m doing in the moment, things get done and I don’t feel so “busy.”
This became obvious when I decided to really commit myself to tarot study, so I could become a professional reader. If I wasted my limited personal time distracted with social media or other forms of online entertainment, I lost precious study time. Also, I noticed that my inability to focus was affecting my spiritual practice. A few years ago, I made the decision to back off social media and eventually cancelled all my accounts (except for YouTube). I still struggle with YouTube and email a sources of distraction. I recognize some addictive behavior in my relationships to these platforms which I find greatly unsettling.
One day when watching YouTube (believe me I get the irony!) I saw an interview with Cal Newport. He was encouraging people to quit social media if they wanted to advance professionally. That caught my attention as I’d already done that for the most part. I watched a few more interviews and decided to buy his book. Although, he doesn’t mention meditation directly he does talk about mindfulness and many of his techniques for improving focus really resonated for me. I highly recommend this book. If you feel at all that you are distracted by social media or other online tools, this book can be a game changer. For those of us psycho-spiritual tarot nerds Newport talks extensively about Carl Jung.
As I said this book is all about improving professional performance and overall quality of life by learning to focus more and commitment to the task at hand. However, the techniques in this book have huge implications for spiritual practice and divination. The more the world calls our attention outwards the less time we spend connected to the inner realms. Divination and spirituality are all about connecting with our inner worlds and beyond. When we don’t find a way to balance the time we spend internally with the time we spend externally, in my opinion, we become spiritually sick.
Cal Newport’s call to focus is a call to turn within. Turning away from external distractions creates not just an opportunity for improved cognitive functioning or increase creative in your career and mundane life. But it also enhances all aspects of our relationship with our internal reality and our connection to the Divine. How that relationship manifests will be different for each individual. But I would argue that a rich internal life greatly enhances our external existence. A strong spiritual foundation is critical to a meaningful and happy life. I feel that you can’t build that strong spiritual connection if you are constantly being pulled away by external distractions.
For someone focused on building a skill like divination this shift in attention and focus is critical. As well as for those who are seeking to experience spiritual evolution and a connection to Divinity this skill is essential. It is the jumping off point to more advanced spiritual practices and deeper mystical work.
I have always been an advocate for meditation as a critical part of any spiritual practice. Whether that is eastern or western style meditation or a more unconventional approach to meditation, it is crucial for psycho-spiritual well-being. A spiritual practice without at least one form of meditation will not get you far at all.
I hear many people say that they “can’t meditate.” First of all, I think that they are referring to not being able to “turn off their thoughts.” This is a misunderstanding of the goals of eastern style meditation. But after reading this book I now wonder if people who “can’t meditate” have actually damaged their ability to focus through the use of social media, smart phones, email, and Netflix binging, etc.
As someone who used to have a robust meditation practice and noticed a correlation between increased social media use and decreased ability to focus and meditate. I really feel that this is the case for me. After a few years of regular social media and smart phone use I could no longer meditate at all. The addictive pull of online platforms has made it hard to fight my way back to a focused life. But I have made this a major priority in my life and work hard at it every day. Bit by bit I am reclaiming my ability to focus, my life and spiritual practices are better for it. But I still can’t meditate like I used to but hopefully I will regain that ability fully in time. It also makes me a better Tarot reader the more I shut out external distractions from my life. Cal Newport’s book really helped me in my journey away from distraction towards a spiritually connected, meaningful life. I hope it will help you too.
If you aren’t sure if distraction is a deterrent, let’s do a reading and see what the cards say.