Summertime — Healthy & Unplugged


by Connie Hernandez, ND

I’m surprised that researchers haven’t yet studied the similarities between heroin addiction and the way modern humans connect with tech.

No one has yet studied, to my knowledge, the ferocity with which people are irresistibly drawn to glue themselves incessantly to their smartphones.

Dr. Connie Hernandez, ND
Dr. Connie Hernandez, ND

Yes, the high-tech tendrils we’ve grown through a mysterious process of Darwinian adaptation can be very useful, but they’re also powerful enablers of disruption (cell phones in restaurants), rudeness (the person who strikes up a conversation, then tunes you out while he heeds the call of his Lord and Master iPhone), and as stuporously addictive as a powerful opiate.

Sure, we can use our phones to map our genes, unravel our biochemistry, and monitor our hormonal cycles.

There are apps that can help us reach our dietary goals, enhance our sleep, and encourage us to meditate.

But what technology will never be able to do is foster the rest, relaxation, and restoration that our bodies, minds, hearts and souls need every day, and that we crave most naturally in summertime.

Summer is the best season for calling a break and getting completely disconnected and untethered. Summer is the time to temper the panicky reaction when we misplace our iPhone, or when the wi-fi goes down and we can’t check email.

I remember wistfully how Connie and I traveled in the 1970s. Connections to the outside world were limited to telegrams (believe it), and mail delivered to the local American Express office in actual paper envelopes with stamps attached.

No wires, no chargers, no gadgets, no obsession with 24/7 connectivity.

We traveled with well-worn paperbacks that we traded with our fellow travelers. We entertained ourselves by spending quality time with the people and places we encountered along the way. It was a lovely, restorative, Be-Here-Now way to get around.

In today’s world, where the pull of the iPhone is much stronger than crack, going untethered is bound to cause anxiety. Depending on our obligations, it may actually be unacceptable to strip away the wires and go tech-nekkid.

I’m not suggesting a campaign to Smash All Smartphones Now! But a brief respite can be both nourishing to the soul, and thoroughly possible. All it takes is appreciating the green grass just beyond the headphones.

How much delicious silence have you sipped today? When was the last time you kept your body perfectly still, and let yourself sink into the deep, refreshing silence within?

A few hours in a beach chair with the smartphone left barking for attention in the car will suffice. Bold spirits can venture upon a backpacking trip sans sat-phone.

Dig your toes in the sand. Lie on your back and watch the clouds go by. Chat with friends by the cook fire. Stand out under the starry night. Welcome back, friend.

Modern medicine has accomplished wonders, but it’s good to remember that technology may be able to assist in the cure, but that people don’t generally heal through tech.

We ultimately heal by opening an inner connection to Spirit, by applying the highly effective healing modalities that Spirit has given us.

This is why Naturopathy talks about those gifts and the methods of their application – by dew-walking, hydrotherapy, heliotropic healing, breathwork, energy medicine, and the like. It’s all thoroughly proven natural stuff whose effectiveness has been proven time after time.

The Japanese have a tradition of purifying themselves by standing in waterfalls.

Beautiful forest in Japan.
Beautiful forest in Japan.

In typical Japanese fashion, they’ve also institutionalized the practice of “forest bathing” – which simply means spending time out under the trees, but in a deep, conscious, undistracted, untethered way.

Natural forests on Japanese public lands are designated sites for “forest therapy.” And it’s not just a response to a sentimental yearning among the denizens imprisoned in overcrowded and overworked Japanese cities.

Strolling through the forest has been documented to decrease blood pressure, reduce anxiety and stress, and increase immunity – what to speak of the restorative powers of enjoyment and delight,

Find time this summer to walk barefoot in the grass, to wade in a stream, float in the ocean, and luxuriate with friends in beautiful outdoor spaces.

You’ll benefit in ways that might surprise you.

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