Digital Mindfulness With Dina Fenili
Miraval’s mission of creating life in balance through mindfulness has been guiding individuals to elevate their wellbeing for over 25 years. From our innovative spa treatments to our enriching wellbeing classes and healthful cuisine, we strive to offer our guests tools for living a mindful and balanced life long after they leave our properties. This includes a vision for relating to our digital devices with balanced boundaries.
In today’s remote environment, we are more dependent than ever to our devices. As leaders, we face nonstop Zoom meetings and endless emails, phone calls, or texts, making it increasingly difficult to disconnect completely. Our practice of “Digital Mindfulness” at Miraval encourages guests to unplug and live in the present, freeing up space to become conscious of the mind-body-spirit intersection. Devices are allowed only in designated areas as a gentle reminder to guests that they can moderate and control their use of them. By intentionally disconnecting from digital life, our guests are free to engage in other fulfilling activities.
As leaders of Miraval, we urge our colleagues to practice digital mindfulness in their own lives. Anyone can set a similar tone for their teams with support and encouragement. Director of Brand and Marketing for Miraval Dina Fenili shares her thoughts and insight with us about digital mindfulness, finding balance, and making moments meaningful.
Miraval: What does digital mindfulness mean to you?
Dina: It means being mindful of how digital devices affect your-day-to-day and your psyche. Being mindful of anything means being aware of it. The first thing you can do when it comes to social media or cell phones is to have an honest account of how they make you feel and how they fit into your life.
Miraval: When are you able to focus most clearly?
Dina: I start each morning with a full cup, and it empties throughout the day. Mornings bring me the most clarity – specifically when I’m in the shower, when I’m on a walk, or when I’m driving. My mind is set free to explore and remember my tasks. I go through my to-do list and generate new fresh ideas. I have always told my teams that most of my creative ideas come in the shower because I’m fresh and it’s the morning. It allows my brain to roam freely or come up with new ideas.
Miraval: What does your relationship with your digital devices look like?
Dina: As I matured over the years, I developed a much healthier relationship with my devices. My husband and I try our best to keep our phones off our bodies and even out of our bedroom. I think, over time, I have been able to set boundaries for work and life. There are certain times of night and day I separate from my phone.
I try to step away from technology. Some days are easier than others. I have a great work team that respects nights and weekends. We do not over-communicate, and we allow each other to disconnect and recharge. We have mutual respect. There’s the occasional email or one-off request that you just have to get done, but nights and weekends are a safe zone.
Miraval: How do you balance your time on and off screens?
Dina: It is difficult. You can go down a rabbit hole, especially during a pandemic. I have watched everything on TV. I have read every book that I own and done puzzles. It is negative five degrees out, so it’s not like I can go for a walk. It’s hard not to get sucked back in. The phone is “calling you” to start browsing through your newsfeed, but you’re trying to be mindful and enjoy calming time together. You just have to find a way to replace it until it becomes common practice and you don’t even need it anymore.
It’s a constant battle, especially right now when it just seems like everything is moving so slowly. I’m not great at it, but I try to control the habit. We like to sit down for dinner at the table – no phones allowed. We put the devices down and enjoy quality time to reconnect.
Miraval: What apps or techniques help you use technology more mindfully, and how?
Dina: I challenged myself to reflect on how each app made me feel. I have gone through many life-changing events and had to pay attention to how social media makes me feel about myself or others.
Posts have the power to tug at your emotional heartstrings or cause jealousy or depression. As we come out of this pandemic, I am seeing what’s real in life and how social media can drag us down. It can make people feel defeated, deflated, and jealous. I wonder if people knew the real story behind each post, that they might perceive it differently.
I let go of all of my social handles except for LinkedIn. I keep a business Instagram account to support the Miraval team handles and make sure we are part of the conversation. I no longer have a personal account because I realized, with life experience, that true friends will stay in touch, even without social media.
I stick with LinkedIn because, for 16 years, my business network has always been one of the strongest ways for me to connect professionally. I find its platform tends to be business-forward and such a positive place for me. I can use it to browse or discuss trending industry topics. Stepping away from everything else has made me feel so much better.
Miraval: What’s one way you wish to be more mindful in your life?
Dina: I had to remove myself from devices and stop myself from using social media. It was difficult at first. The engineers and experts behind the screens of today explain the science behind social media technology and how it’s designed to release dopamine in the brain. It takes a couple of weeks of looking at your empty hand and missing it or constantly wondering what’s on your feed. Then you realize quickly that you will find real news through other channels.
You have to set boundaries and stick to them. If I have children someday, I will be that mom that sets a no cell phone and social media rule. They can choose to invite phones into their lives when they are adults. Privacy is a concern. Once you share something online, you can never take it back.
We all have to keep our guard up and be conscious about how we choose to use technology. We live in the digital world, and continuing to stay aware of my public profile is something I am careful about from a business perspective. You never know who is watching or listening to your tone of voice or how the public may perceive it.
At Miraval, part of our mission is to make space for people to use devices for the common good: sharing tips, education, or personal insights. We hope we can help people adopt digital mindfulness and that it becomes a philosophy that can take us into the future.
Miraval: What tip can you share with those who want to cultivate a digital life in balance?
First: acknowledge that it is not easy to disconnect. There are actual chemicals in your body reacting to the engagement on social media; the engineers who invented social media made sure of it. If you feel yourself becoming obsessed with how many followers or likes you have, then maybe it’s time to recognize that and step back.
Second: Think about why you need those likes and followers. Be honest with yourself and evaluate why you need these handles. Step back from digital media and ask yourself the question, “did it bring me joy?” If the answer is no, then stop doing it.
Third: You have to commit to doing it, which is not easy. Disconnecting takes time, and you have to challenge yourself. It’s easier when you have support. My husband and I keep each other in check. But if you’re on your own, then you have to be honest with yourself, consider how to break away, then do it. Part of that process asks you to replace your device with real conversations that generate good feelings, reading a book, or going for a walk (hopefully, you have better weather than we do in Chicago).
Fourth: Make time to reflect. Until I came to Miraval, I didn’t realize that you could celebrate this process and be proud of yourself for succeeding in whatever format works for you. You can talk about it with friends and family and find new ways to connect and reflect.
Join the growing movement of digital mindfulness retreats designed to let people unplug and reconnect technology-free with themselves and others. Disconnecting takes time – we encourage you to set boundaries and celebrate your progress with small steps. Discover how distance from digital distractions can help you become more aware, present, and connected to your mind, body, and spirit.
Are you curious to learn more about mindfulness and how to create it? Stay connected with us on social @miravalresorts, subscribe to our YouTube channel, and be the first to experience our new tools, videos, and meditations to improve your mental wellbeing and experience a Miraval state of mind wherever you are.