From Screens to Stillness: Challenge of the Screens

January 27, 2020

Today we begin a new series called, From Screens to Stillness.  In it, we will look at the challenges we face today that keep us from silence and contemplative prayer, we will explore the gift of technology in our spiritual lives, and also ways for us to embrace stillness and silence in this age of screens. Today we start with the challenge of screens. 

Our world drastically changed on January 9, 2007.  What happened on this date?  Steve Jobs, the CEO of Apple, stood at a press conference and announced that Apple had reinvented the phone.  He said it had software for everything, the world’s best media player, the world’s best telephone, and the world’s best way to get on the web, and in addition to that, it had a camera.    

Just a few months prior to this announcement in January 2007, Facebook opened its doors to all above the age of thirteen in September 2006.  Later in 2007, Twitter began.  Google launched the Android phone in 2007 as well.  Amazon came out with the Kindle.  Mobile traffic drastically increased 100,000% from 2007 to 2014.  

So much changed in a short amount of time about how we communicate, how we interact, and how we go about building relationships.  An article I read once in Forbes magazine stated that on average we get 121 emails a day, and we check our phones every twelve minutes.  That’s over 80 times a day! The article said that for every interruption it takes us fifteen minutes to refocus.  Our brains are exhausted from continually pulling in and out of focus all day.   

For the last two years I’ve asked people at retreats, “How many of you have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep?”  I am always shocked to see that almost 75% of the hands in the room go up.  Maybe this resonates with you?  

I know as a mom of three this resonates with me.  There are nights when I have not paused during the day, that I struggle to shut my brain off in order to rest.  Other nights, I wake up in the middle of the night with my mind racing.  It is challenging to keep up with the constant interruptions that come from apps, emails, and texts that come from my children’s school, activities, and fellow parents.   

While there is a gift to technology, the advent of the handheld screen is impacting our bodies, our health, our creativity, our mental health, and so much more.  As I follow business literature I am seeing more and more being written about the value of pausing, of silence, and of being still.  Every time I read a new book or article about this, I chuckle.  The “medicine” they are offering people is the tried and true contemplative prayer practices our Christian faith has lauded for hundreds of years.  It’s the medicine people taught me these past two decades, and I passionately want to share with others. I believe people are longing to live a different way and to have tools to help them combat the busyness and embrace the gift of stillness and silence.   

So how do we move from screens to stillness?  How can we embrace the gift of contemplative prayer in today’s world? How can the screens also help us embrace silence and stillness?  That’s what this series is about!   


This week, I invite you to simply notice the impact of screens in your day-to-day life.  Do a pulse check.    

  • Are you having trouble falling asleep at night?  Staying asleep?  
  • Do you find your brain tired?  
  • Do you struggle with creativity or focus?  
  • How are you seeing screens impact your life positively?  What about negatively?  
  • When was the last time you were truly still and silent?  
Go Deeper?  

Inviting you Deeper as We Walk with Christ: 

Becky is an Ignatian-trained spiritual director, retreat facilitator, and writer. She is the author of the Busy Lives and Restless Souls (March 2017, Loyola Press) and The Inner Chapel (April 2020, Loyola Press). She helps others create space to connect faith and everyday life through facilitating retreats and days of reflection, through writing, and through spiritual direction. With nearly twenty years of ministry experience within the Catholic Church, Becky seeks to help others discover God at work in the every day moments of people’s lives by utilizing St. Ignatius’ Spiritual Exercises and the many gifts that our Catholic faith and Ignatian Spirituality provide.

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