Ayurveda to Balance Tech Overload

Kripalu School of Ayurveda

On any given day, Americans spend up to 10 hours looking at screens. Computers, smartphones, TV, and the Internet dominate the environment. Yes, there are benefits to these devices: they provide convenience and connection. But they can also negatively impact the brain, cause eye strain, create sleep deprivation, and increase stress.

Many of us have serious cases of FOMO (fear of missing out); one study showed that people click or swipe on their phones more than two thousand times a day. That dependence can lead to depletion.

“Continuous access to smartphones, tablets, laptops, and television strains our eyes and brains,” says Erin Casperson, Dean of the Kripalu School of Ayurveda. “The sages of Ayurveda understood the deleterious effects of overusing the senses and the imbalance it creates in the nervous system.” Ayurveda, yoga’s sister science, teaches us to live in harmony with the seasons and the natural flow of each day—the innate rhythms that technology disrupts.

Here are Erin's tips for returning to balance and staying in control of your relationship with technology.

  • Know thy Ayurvedic self. The three doshas, or Ayurvedic constitutions, are vata, pitta, and kapha; in each person, one of the three is typically dominant. Health is achieved through creating a balance among the doshas. Take our Ayurvedic quiz to ascertain your doshic temperament, so you can choose habits that get you back in sync. Technology naturally stimulates vata—the air/ether dosha—characterized by dry, airy, cold, light, and flighty energy. When vata is out of balance, we can feel ungrounded, and too much technology tends to make that worse. Overuse of technology can also stimulate pitta, the fiery dosha. We may get overheated (physically and mentally) and make comments online that we regret later. Knowing your unique traits empowers you to find harmony.
  • Start the day with stillness. A moment of quiet self-awareness can set the tone for the day. Erin recommends meditating in the morning instead of checking your phone, even if it’s just for five minutes. “Sit. Watch your breath. Don’t be discouraged by the chatter of the mind. That is just what it does. This time is an investment in your health.”
  • Find good substitutes. “Our brains become addicted to the Internet,” says Erin. “The constant buzz, ding, or alert that we have received a like, text, message, or email stimulates the endorphin- and dopamine-producing parts of the brain.” In Ayurvedic terms, this is a vata imbalance; vata is responsible for enthusiasm, action, seeing, receiving information, and seeking, Erin says. Find other ways to stimulate those parts of the brain: music, movement, time outdoors, time with friends. You might want to do a little soul-searching: What hole are you filling with clicking and swiping that could be satisfied with a more wholesome activity or mode of connection?
  • Care for your eyes. Your vision is the sense most directly affected by constant tech use. A few sprays of rosewater will refresh tired eyes and give you a blast of aromatherapy. Keep a bottle at your desk and spritz in the morning and anytime throughout the day. If you don’t have rosewater, splash your eyes with plain water.
  • Be playful. There are fun ways to practice and model healthy tech etiquette. Here’s one from Erin: “Loser pays all: When going out to dinner, have everyone put their phones in the middle of the table. Whoever checks their phone first pays for everyone!”

Find out about programs with Erin Casperson at Kripalu.

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