Sanctuary: A sacred place; a place of refuge or safety; a place of peaceful tranquility or introspection.
Not everyone struggles with modern life. Some people wouldn't change a thing.
But for those of us suffering under the weight of social media, dread-filled 24-hour news cycles, and never-ending information, we need to make some important changes.
The goal is to emancipate yourself, not from technology, but from the aspects of the modern world that keep you trapped. I call that making your life a sanctuary.
The Concept of Making Your Life a Sanctuary
We all have an intimate relationship with the internet. In the last ten years, it’s snaked its way into just about everything.
Elon Musk said it himself:
“We are already a cyborg. People don’t realize — we are already a cyborg because we are so well integrated with our phones and our computers. The phone is almost like an extension of yourself. If you forget your phone, it’s like a missing limb.”
For all the progress, connection, and productivity that technology has brought us, we also know that it’s contributed to plenty of problems, such as:
- Information overload.
- Widespread depression and anxiety.
- Indoctrination into extreme ideologies.
- Endless distraction.
- Murdered attention spans.
I’m not advocating for pulling a Jeremiah Johnson and choosing a life of solitude in the mountains. I plan on sticking around. But not if I’m choking on information, and losing my life to distraction.
If you feel like you’re…
- losing your precious time.
- like your intimate moments have been invaded by the rest of the world.
- like you are never truly present in anything you do.
- like there’s always this looming presence in the room with you.
Then you might find the idea of sanctuary appealing.
The point is to get you to engage with technology from a place of strength, mental health, and autonomous choice.
Here’s how I think you should go about it:
1. Digital Detox / Digital Minimalism
This is the obvious first step. You start by slowly changing your relationship with technology.
- limit smartphone usage,
- set designated times for watching Youtube videos,
- let your phone charge outside your bedroom so you don’t scroll at night,
- or choose to only engage with media that is uplifting and beneficial.
Or you could take the hardcore route and delete social media, or buy a dumbphone. Like author Cal Newport said, the goal is to be intentional with tech use.
Once you start raising your head up out of the information stream, you can start feeling more aware, and more yourself. Even if that means becoming a bit more bored.
2. Focus on Relationships and Experiences
If there was ever a time in history when it was easiest to miss out on things that make life worth living solely because you’re distracted, it’s right now.
You can always choose the easy option, and that’s staying in — staying in and looking at what everyone else is doing. This might make sense in a pandemic, but any other time, it’s a waste of life.
You know how everyone is lonely now, despite being connected? My theory is that social media and remote communication only partially satisfy your social needs. It’s like having a diet of potato chips and rice cakes.
Authentic, personal connections are what nourish the soul. Our social lives aren’t meant to be filtered through tech. We’re meant to be laughing, and making actual memories.
I know authentic relationships can be difficult to find now, but just remember that tech is always there to soothe you with something superficial. I think that’s what holds people back.
3. Self Knowledge and Self Respect
The lower your self-esteem, the more you want to escape yourself. And the more often you’re going to choose the warm embrace of endless distraction.
Knowing who you are, and what you want, is the first step to carving out your sanctuary. Social media is fueled by insecurity. The only way to get above it is to have self-respect.
Once you gain the fortitude to reject the worst aspects of the modern world, you can create a life that’s meaningful to you.
If modernity wants you to conform to its insanity, then you have to become a rebel.
4. Meditation/Art/Spiritual Practice
What I mean by spiritual practice is any activity that places you in complete control. It’s anything that allows you to let go, immerse yourself, and transcend.
This could be classic mediation, or reading philosophy, or anything that makes you more conscious and self-aware. If you’re an artist or an athlete, you often find this in flow states.
Flow states are some of the most powerful and vibrant experiences you can have as a human. You find flow states by creating, acting, or expressing at a high level. Once you get there, it feels like magic. And no distraction can touch it.
No tech can halt that expression of your humanity. Finding flow reminds you why you get up in the morning, and what you’re capable of.
5. Be Secure in Your Finances
You’re probably thinking, “what does money have to do with it?”
If building your sanctuary means fostering independence, then obviously money will be a factor. It’s not going to stop you from drowning in technology or materialism, but it will give you options.
What it boils down to is this: the more financially independent you are, the less people can tell you what to do. And the more you can create a freer life for yourself and the people you care about.
Unless you want to survive on little and live in a van (which you totally could), becoming financially independent will give you greater control over your lifestyle.
The hard part is getting there.
6. Give Character to Your Space
Surround yourself with things that lift you up. The more you adorn your life with things that matter to you, the more it feels like yours.
Take your room for example. This is your zone. This is should be the sanctuary within your sanctuary. You want to take that house and make it a home.
Give it some soul. Put up decorations. Inspirational quotes. Even a minimalist setup has character. When you get home from being in the world, you know you’ve carved out something distinct from everything else.
That’s the important part of making your life a sanctuary. It’s making your life distinct from the noise. You don’t belong to the world. You belong to yourself.
The Most Important Things to Remember
You have a right to choose how you live. It’s your most fundamental right as a person. If corporations and tech giants want to steal your attention with addictive technology, then they want to steal your time. And time is all you have.
Making your life a sanctuary is essentially the same as making your life worth living. Because if it isn’t worth living, then of course you’re going to succumb to tech, instant gratification, and distraction.
But more than that, it’s about restoring presence to your life. The presence you feel when you’re having the best time with friends, or when you’re being intensely creative, or when you’re quietly enjoying something you love.
- Assert control over your digital usage. Make it intentional.
- Life is meant to be lived. Cultivate authentic relationships. Take risks. Make memories.
- Build your self-esteem. The more you love and respect who you are, the less you can be controlled.
- Find a spiritual practice, and use it to create, express, and transcend.
- Keep your money in order so you can live how you like.
- Give character to your living space.
We’re meant to live, not just consume. Don’t be a slave to technology. Don’t be a slave to the news. Don’t be a slave to anything.