Up until a few years ago, I was quite disinterested in technology, to put it mildly. When smartphones first came out, I still very much hung onto my ideal of wanting this world to connect in a way that technology is rapidly leading us away from, so I kept using old school mobile phones, which could only make calls (not even with a camera function!), only to find that they kept breaking down soon after I bought them. But in my stubbornness, I kept buying the same model until it just got ridiculous.
I continued to resist the trend of smartphones, but eventually I did buy myself a second hand phone with a camera function.
When a family member introduced a smartphone into our home, it got my attention. Within my family, during meals, the phone would be the primary point of focus.
This felt very raw as it reflected the lack of connection that had always been in my home, which was now being magnified with the use of the smartphone.
When commuting on public transport, the phone would enjoy more physical contact with my loved ones than I did; and when vacationing, the phone would be the obvious buddy the family wanted to hang out with. I started to feel the isolation that I was actually already living with, but still did not want to take responsibility for my own creation. So I decided to blame it on the phone and I became jealous of it!
As I was the only woman in my then immediate family structure, this felt embarrassing and brought up strong feelings of unworthiness for me as a woman. The men in my family seemed to be more interested in an object than in connecting with me. I didn’t express any of this back then, but was uncomfortable about where technology was taking us.
Around this time I became interested in social media. Being able to connect with the whole world now felt natural, although it remained something very much lacking in real life. And because the feelings of not being able to connect with my family felt hurtful, I threw myself into gaining connection through this newly discovered media. I had built friendships all over the world and social media made maintaining these friendships possible with relative ease.
Four years ago, I broke through my own self-imposed limitation and finally bought myself a smartphone.
I quickly became addicted to apps like free video chat calls that seemed to bring closer connection with people and the world. However, the way in which I used these apps often reinforced the disconnection I had with myself, and therefore there was no true connection with anyone. I was using such tools to escape from committing to the life that was before me.
As I did not choose to be aware that connection had to be first built within myself, I needed social media to confirm if connection existed in my life or not. Most of the connections made through social media remained virtual, as in real life I was still very much living in solitude. I did end up meeting some people from social media, but most of these connections had no true foundation (that is, no bringing of a connection I had with myself first). They were laced with attachment, expectations and a superficial understanding between people, and ultimately proved to be a very distressing experience. It was very disempowering and exhausting because these experiences of relating were needy and abusive. I ended up traveling many miles from home to a foreign country to meet someone from social media because of my neediness to connect, which was not true connection, and I opened myself up to situations of emotional abuse.
By this time, I had had enough of the devastation of looking outside of myself for connection. From a place of deep fragility, I made the choice to connect back to myself.
I had already built a foundation of social media skills by this time, so why not use my smartphone to document what it means to connect with myself? I had no idea what that meant, but I was willing to find out.
I started taking ‘selfies’.
It began with selfies of only my shadow and slowly moved onto my face. I wanted to feel myself, to go beyond my skin, because a picture shows so much beyond what the eyes can see. I saw all my choices, the wise choices, as well as the not so wise choices. I saw the part of myself that never changes, still and unwavering. I was then inspired to go deeper.
So I took more selfies.
I saw the honest, as well as the not so honest, expressions of myself.
With every selfie I took, I wanted to look deeper. I saw how I posted the images — with or without filters, what kind of filters. I felt into the reasons to post, or not post, a selfie.
One thing was absolute: I did not want to hide any longer. I was choosing to step out from my own shadows.
From selfies of feeling and expressing myself, they transformed into selfies through which I am now expressing so much more than just me.
When a selfie expresses the universal and equal qualities of our Soul, such as joy and stillness, this is felt by all, as we all hold these qualities in our essence equally. The power of a true selfie is not about me, but it is about you, me and everyone else.
Soon these photos branched into selfies with other women, other men, with groups and even strangers.
When a smartphone is used in connection with oneself, it becomes a tool to capture the connection first felt within – something that naturally expresses the relationship we have with our Soul. Technology on its own cannot bring about this connection, nor can it inhibit this connection, because it is always our choice to connect with ourselves or not. Technology alone cannot inspire; what is inspiring is us being in connection with ourselves when we use it.
Inspired in my every breath by the connection with Soul lived in Life and by the teachings of Serge Benhayon.
By Adele Leung, Creative director/fashion stylist