It’s very easy to cut ourselves off from the world, to not make a connection with it and often we don’t really realise that we’re doing it. I do this myself. With smartphones, iPads, laptops, etc. it’s very easy to work or have access to music and films whilst we’re on the move. I’m doing it now as I write this. I’m in a coffee shop in Richmond (major chain) and as I enjoy a coffee (cappuccino) I am plugged in and listening to music on Spotify. “It helps me to focus”, which it does. This is not a new thing of course, the BBC was reporting on it back in 2011 (although this article looks dated now given how technology has moved on).

But the reality is that I almost automatically grab my earphones when I’m walking anywhere, and automatically start listening to something. It can be work related – I often like to listen to audiobooks, or ‘blinks’ (summaries of books from Blinkist) – but often it’s music. And there’s nothing wrong with that. But I rarely do it consciously – it’s become a habit.

So what? It’s not important and there’s nothing wrong with a bit of peace and quiet. I agree. But I’m isolating myself and I don’t hear what’s going on around me, I am not connecting on some level. I’m deliberating taking myself away from the environment. And I believe that there is something important in being open to what’s happening around you and it doesn’t matter if that’s in the middle of a forest or the middle of town – it’s still about engagement. When I do it I notice other things as well – smells, light and shade, small things, seemingly unimportant things. I don’t think they are. It’s about being there, at that moment, right now.
I also find that I increasingly use music to provide a familiar and comforting background – I’m not engaging with it either. When I was a teenager I used to just sit and listen to albums (often repeatedly but that’s something else) and curiously I still remember the words (sort of) to those albums. I listened. I engaged.
Perhaps there’s something in just focusing on what we’re doing – whether that’s listening, writing, or simply being part of where we are. Who knows what may happen?
(If you find that you have a need to plug-in and isolate because of anxiety surrounding interacting with people then I would get professional help, which is where hypnotherapy can help.)