Technology has integrated itself in our lives in 2017 far more than anything else. India is becoming digital at a whole new level and even the government is encouraging it. However, constantly checking emails, losing ourselves down the rabbit holes of social media, sleeping with our phones next to us or tucked in bed with us, immediately taking out our phones when there’s a moment of pause in our day, answering texts or calls while we are having dinner with friends or family, being available and “on” 24/7 and having our attention controlled by something other than ourselves — all these come at a great cost.
These are the signs that our relationship with technology is undermining our humanity. It’s not sustainable, it’s not healthy, and it’s driving the pace of our lives beyond our capacity to cope, and robbing us of the time we need to recharge and reconnect with ourselves. This has far-reaching consequences, especially for India’s youth. The number of people being treated for mobile phone addiction has spiked between 75 and 100% in the last year alone, mostly among young people in the age group of 13-24. A recent study showed that 65% of Indians between 22 and 25 years old show signs of depression, while 25% of teens (13-15 years old) suffer from depression.
The President has called the spread of mental health problems in India an epidemic and the Prime Minister dedicated his radio address in March 2017 to highlight this crisis and end the stigma around mental health. At the heart of this dramatic increase in stress and mental health problems is our relationship with technology, which is feeding our obsession with being always on — an obsession which has led to exhaustion and fatigue becoming the top health concern among adults in India.
India’s ancient wisdom and spiritual traditions are now at the center of a global conversation about what it means to live a good life. And the truth and power of India’s centuries old philosophy on life is increasingly and conclusively validated by modern science. Scientific discoveries about the connection between wellbeing and performance are enough to convince even the most skeptical, secular societies to embrace the knowledge embedded in Indian culture for centuries: the power of meditation, yoga, contemplation and compassion to change our lives and our world.