Mindful phone scrolling

I’ve learned how to take a potential distraction and turn it into a meditation

Unrecognizable girl using smartphone - first person view

Written by Salimah P., a buddhify user since 2013

My phone is like an extension of my hand at this point. I reach for it without even thinking. I feel a low level of panic when I can’t readily access it. It is my habit to check in with Twitter first thing in the morning — even before meditating. Recently, I’ve started experimenting with interweaving these two morning routines.

Most meditations encourage putting away your phone, which makes sense. But it feels revolutionary to learn how mindfulness can be applied to any task. Everything you do mindfully is meditation. I enjoy more traditional forms of meditation as well, but I’m the most inspired by sessions that let us leverage our relationship with the physical world.

This new take on mindfulness practice appeals to me for two reasons: efficiency and the radical approach of incorporating one’s relationship with one’s phone into the process of meditation. Instead of watching characters, GIFs, and headlines simply wash over me, I am more present with my morning ritual of browsing my timeline. And honestly, accomplishing two tasks at once (efficiency) is too good to pass up.

How I peruse with truer depth

Rather than resisting our collective preoccupation or demonizing our phone addictions, I think we can see it as an opportunity to explore our relationship with the things that entrance us and “snap out of it” with a few simple questions.

Here are some helpful things I’ve started to ask and observe:

  • Beginning with the physical properties of the phone, can you take a moment to consider it simply as an object? This immediately grounds your experience.
  • What is my own state as compared to the weight, texture, of the phone, etc.? This orients you as a thing apart from the phone.
  • What apps “call to me”? This helps you to identify where your energy goes.
  • How does each post/tweet make me feel? So often, after engaging with social media, I’ve felt a sense of unrest or irritation but couldn’t always pinpoint why. Asking yourself this actually makes you stop scrolling long enough to interrogate the experience more deeply.

Using my phone mindfully reminds me that my phone is not me. It’s a tool, a helpful conduit, and a source of entertainment, but it is not my identity. I forget that so easily. What is more–my Twitter presence is not my identity. More often than not, I experience social media fatigue after prolonged exposure, but I don’t feel like I can stop scrolling for fear of missing out.

Applying mindfulness instead of resistance brings me back to the pause, the gentle breath, and I remind myself that I can choose to engage (or not) on my terms.

Salimah P. is based in Baltimore, Maryland. This piece is about her personal experience with the ‘Scroll’ meditation from the On Your Phone category. She loves this particular meditation because it illustrates just how accessible meditation is.

If you feel you have learnt something important through your meditation practice and you’d like your share your insight or experience, we’d love to hear from you. Let Dana know via and she’ll get in touch.