SUR had the privilege of catching up with Nathan Cunningham who was recently featured in VogageLA Magazine. Nathan is a long time friend of the SUR Founders and we wanted to share his amazing tips and story. We think his advice will allow us to take a step back during this crazy pandemic time and also help us prepare for the holidays.
Take it away Nate!
We live in a fast-paced world these days. Technology has amplified greatly over the last few decades. This has come with amazing advances that have improved our lives as human beings in many ways, but there is a cost to this growth. We have become a society of human “doings” more than human “beings”. It is uncomfortable and awkward for us to even stand in line without being glued to our phones.
We now have unlimited knowledge and entertainment at the tips of our fingers at any given moment. The ability to get in contact with pretty much anyone in the world at any time. This level of instant gratification has diminished our ability to truly connect on a deeper level with interpersonal communication. Yes, we have more communication options, but we have less communication skills. We have literally been trained like Pavlov's dogs to react to a stimulus and trigger a response. Unlike the dogs who hear a bell and begin to salivate, we hear our phone ring and dopamine is released in the brain. We get a hit of fleeting happiness. This all happens within a matter of seconds and we are largely unaware of it.
MAKE A CHANGE
So what can we do? We can create space. Space to breathe. Space to be. Space to take a step back and observe. Space to be present. S p a c e.
How do we create this? Through mindfulness. Just as our brains have been conditioned and trained to react to our phones, social media, and technology, we can train our brains to be more mindful. This does take time, and these days people want a quick fix without the work. You can go your whole life living in this race to the nowhere we call living - or you can prioritize yourself and live a more holistic life.
There are many ways that we can improve mindfulness in our lives and encourage relaxation. This first and most simple step is to take time to breathe. Turn the phone off or put it away in another room 30 minutes prior to bedtime! I know that this sounds like a hard one in this day and age, but the backlight of the phone stimulates our minds and prevents the proper secretion of melatonin. Every day, list three things that you are grateful for. This helps condition the mind to allow for more space.
ABOUT NATHAN CUNNINGHAM
I have a background in MBSR, Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction, which has been proven to greatly help not only mental pain and struggles, but also physical pain. There is no right or wrong way to go about the first steps of mindfulness. Simply breath and watch. Just 5 minutes of meditation daily lowers the cortisol levels in the brain suppresses the constant fight or flight of our sympathetic nervous system. As an undergraduate student, I hosted a mindfulness podcast called “A Mindful Moment” (https://www.mixcloud.com/MindfulMoment/) in which I explored deeper topics of consciousness and stress. Since the pandemic began, I have been hosting Zoom courses and mindfulness training.
Bottom line: Next time you are in line and feel the conditioned response to reach for your phone and disengage, try taking a few deep breaths and just be.