If I were to tell you that you are an addict, would you agree? Probably not, but the fact is that most Americans (in fact, most Western people) are either addicted or in the process of becoming addicted to data overload.  Find out more about this developing issue in the western world and how Feng Shui can help, by Alex Stark.

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Whether from your cell phone, or through social media, or even when innocently surfing for information on the web, our brain’s synapses are becoming more and more reliant on a steady stream of information delivered through the internet. Data, the actual packets of digital information, has become like a virus, capable of interfering with our productivity, our sleep, our health, and even our sex lives. This addiction is becoming so pervasive that psychologists have given it a clinical name: electronic screen syndrome.

Video screens are now everywhere, including restaurants, bathrooms, and cars, not to mention our back pockets! Blue light from these devices has been proven to diminish sleep and concentration by interfering with our circadian rhythms. Businesses are now reporting losses in productivity equal to a whole day per week due to compulsive cellphone use. As if this was not enough, one in every four car accidents in the USA is caused by texting or phone use while driving–for a total of 1.6 million crashes a year!

In addition to all of this, there is still the concern generated by ANY electronic device, as all electrical tools emit electromagnetic radiation (EMF) that has been scientifically proven to be damaging to human tissues at certain frequencies and exposures. Although most research has failed to show conclusive evidence of causal relationships (except under very specific circumstances), cell phone use and body proximity to any electronic device continues to be studied for further clarification.

Data addition has powerful causes: from the feng shui perspective, data is a new but very powerful form of chi, one that is inherently unstable (it takes the equivalent of 8 nuclear power plants to run the internet in the US alone) and which has no built-in compassionate side. It is closely aligned with FIRE energy, but unlike traditional forms of FIRE (heat, lights) which provide service to all of nature, data is only interested in your attention and will demand it at all costs. Light and heat, natural forms of FIRE, exist independently of humans but data is entirely dependent on us using it. That is why I compare it to viruses and parasites, which require a host to exist. Most importantly, data creates addictive patterns that are very, very difficult to break. Despite the many advantages it has created, the internet has the power to create real danger and damage.

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This problem is important for feng shui practitioners to consider because it is a new form of energetic interference that could undermine all other feng shui interventions. I have repeatedly seen clients whose condition refuses to improve or which stalls after a short while not because their feng shui is flawed, but because of behavioral patterns caused by their incessant connectivity through social media and use of screen devices at all hours of the day. Hence, I have come up with a set of guidelines that I recommend to most clients:

  1. Do not sleep with a cell phone next to the bed!
  2. In fact, do not sleep with a cell phone anywhere in the bedroom.
  3. If possible, turn off your cell phone entirely while you sleep or at least put it in airplane mode.
  4. Avoid using your phone as an alarm clock, and if you do, place it in the next room, not on the night stand.
  5. Limit use of all blue light screen devices (phone, TV, tablet) as much as possible, and avoid use for at least one hour before bedtime.
  6. Avoid a TV monitor in the bedroom, but if you have one, make sure it is completely turned off at night. Some monitors stay in silent but active mode all the time.
  7. Charge your cell phone or other devices far from the bedroom. In multi-floor buildings, make sure that is not below or above the bed. A bathroom is usually a good alternative.
  8. Avoid locating your wi-fi router in the bedroom, particularly near the bed. In multi-floor buildings, make sure it is not above or below your bed.
  9. Avoid locating your wi-fi router close to your desk in your home office.
  10. To avoid wi-fi radiation during sleep, I often recommend putting your wi-fi router on a timer to be turned off automatically during sleep and turned on in the morning when you need it. Electrical timers plug directly into a socket and will control when your wi-fi router turns on and off.
  11. To increase your productivity, place your cell phone or tablet in sleep or airplane mode when you have tasks to perform. Turn it back on when you are ready to dedicate a chunk of time to answering calls or email. This will help you avoid the temptation to keep checking for updates and will increase your productivity and success.
  12. Try socializing WITHOUT your cell phone. If you have to carry your phone to a social event, place it in silent mode and DO NOT place it on a table or anywhere visible. Keep it in a bag or in your jacket, as far from your body as possible.
  13. I even recommend doing the same during work meetings. Not having a phone visible enhances communication and improves performance. It also gives a good impression, as your clients or customers will sense your undivided attention.
  14. When writing an important document such as a speech or an article, write a rough outline first with paper and pen. Connecting your thoughts to your hand through writing has been shown to increase creativity and insight. When you have a good outline or a draft, it’s OK to complete it on a computer or tablet.
  15. If you are a team leader at work, consider instilling these same principles to your workforce: demand cell phones be silenced in order to increase communication and creative problem solving, particularly during meetings.
  16. If you have children, create simple but clear rules for cell phone use. This is particularly important at bed time. Needless to say, the younger the child, the more susceptible she or he will be to data addiction!

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Alex Stark is an internationally recognized consultant, advisor, and teacher on issues of creativity, efficiency, and design. A graduate of the Yale University School of Architecture, he is a practitioner of Feng Shui and European Geomancy. 

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