Written by Chelle Lehman, Trauma Supports Team Member + Yoga Teacher
"How do you get 5,200 people in a sold-out concert present and in the moment? Take away everyone's cell phone!!"
Now, I know this may seem like a jarring concept.
In fact, I bet some of you may have had a physical reaction upon reading that, but hear me out.
On New Year’s Eve, my husband and I attended a Bruno Mars concert in Las Vegas with some friends and never imagined the surprise we were in for.
Upon arrival, every single attendee was required to place their phone in an electronically locked bag at the entrance to the venue.
We were told we could carry our phones with us, but could not use them until the staff unlocked the bags when we left the show.
At first, and understandably, there was a little panic.
Our friends had children staying with family back home and realized they would not be able to reach them for the next few hours, if needed.
We also heard a lot of grumbling around us from people saying they had spent good money on this show and if they wanted to take pictures or videos, they should be able to do so.
The Gift of Presence
The lights went up and we heard the first chords to one of Bruno’s hit songs.
The crowd went wild!
The fact that our cell phones were in a little locked bag didn’t matter.
Then Bruno sang I Took Your Cell Phone Away, and explained he wanted all 5,200 people attending that night to be fully in the moment, partying without the thought of capturing the best photo or video.
He wanted us to BE IN THE MOMENT.
Everyone rolled with it, and I can say in all honesty, this was the most entertaining concert I have ever attended.
We were all singing along, dancing in the aisles without a care in the world about posting our shared experience with anyone outside the venue.
These same 5,200 people would never be in the same place all together ever again and what a unique unforgettable experience it was!
By “taking away” our cell phones for a couple hours, Bruno offered the gift of PRESENCE.
On that night, I became fully aware of how much time I have spent glued to my phone each day.
The unconscious routine of picking up my phone and scrolling through my e-mail, the news, Facebook, and Instagram numerous times each day.
Setting My Intention
Annually, Challenge to Change encourages the practice of choosing one intentional word for the coming year.
By choosing the word, I continually come back to that anchor and check in to see if I am living that word.
Later that night, as we watched fireworks explode from the hotels all around us from the middle of the Las Vegas strip, I knew that my word for the year was PRESENCE.
Life was passing me by. I was spending too much time not fully engaged with my loved ones and friends.
Instead, I was scrolling through my phone- living life for someone else through every “like” I got on social media, rather than living fully present in the moment for myself.
The memory of this concert serves as an anchor for me throughout 2023.
It reminds me to live mindfully- to find moments to let Bruno “take my phone away” so I can more fully experience the joy of living in the present moment and all it has to offer.
What is your word for 2023? Maybe you share the realization I had or maybe it’s something different. Take time this week to be PRESENT with yourself, noticing what you need, what your soul craves, and create your anchor word for the year.
Wishing you all moments of being fully present in 2023!