Listen as she shares with us her FOMO to JOMO journey and the wisdom gained along the way.
For me it is a story of moving from being in a maze to being in a labyrinth. From being overwhelmed, lost, fearful, confronted by obstacles and dead ends, no escape …
… to being free to journey to centre, to being aware, unstressed, being present, calm, relating with meaning and becoming more fully human again.
There is silence now….
I can finally listen to my own voice…
Over five months have lapsed since I deleted my instant messaging account (the App name is immaterial because this is not about the App – it is about who we become because of it).
My deep reflection on this mode of communication, that we have come to know as ‘instant messaging’ started a few years ago when my mindfulness practices led me to start observing the interactions that took place amongst people. I started to notice how some people chose to stay silent, how some let their emotions loose and how some were indifferent; perhaps using that as a strategy to block themselves from the overload of words and emotions, many times convoluted with bad grammar and confusing emoticons.
It was not easy. I knew letting go of this one App would mean my going off the grid, disconnecting, in a sense, from all those who were spoilt with easy access to my attention – and it did. It meant a lot more – it was almost like a renunciation – letting go of control, to not be able to direct conversations in the groups I had started and was managing. Letting go of threads that kept me connected to various parts of my fragmented world: my residential community, the school community, alumni groups and many more groups. It also meant distancing myself from individuals who had been liberally finding their way into my day, with my ‘unsaid consent’, assumed by virtue of my being present on an App, irrespective of the time of day, or my availability, or my willingness or state of mind to engage with them. It is to be noted that this distancing was mostly technological for me, but I was surprised to see how it also became about a distancing from my energetic field.
I had become numb to the intrusions, letting it all continue…for years…till I finally came to realize that it had resulted in my developing this insatiable need to know, kind of like a sticky addiction that I could not let go of. I wanted to know everything (because I had the tool that allowed me to). I wanted to know who had said what, what the other person had said in response, how my response was perceived – which words invoked a positive response and which ones did not…and so on. All this was contributing to heaps of information and data points about my perceived behavior of people but more than that, it was invoking this monstrous cloud of ‘word noise’, without really resulting in a rain shower of wisdom.
I could not point to anything that could be construed as substance.
Sure, I had become very knowledgeable in so many aspects, thinking I had a psychological insight into people – who thinks what, who likes to be silent, what is the general view of people on certain things (owing to the response of a few individuals, which in retrospect, seemed to have been a lopsided as a representation of the group at best); what triggers people, what brands or teachers do people support. But at the end of it all, I had started to experience a deep sense of void, which I only recently understood as lack of quality personal connections.
Communication, you see, is like a dance. We need to be in it.
Each person needs to be present with themselves and with the other to allow for magic to unfold in the space that holds them.
Instant messaging, however, seems to provide somewhat of a rocky dance floor in a dark room, where we can barely see the other. The only way to construe the movements of the other is to imagine as we struggle to steady our own movements. And in the end, this form of dancing does not remain the beautiful experience that it was intended to be. If anything, it becomes cumbersome and snatches the joy out of this divine dialogue of rhythmic human motions, which we call dance.
I have, on the other hand, often, experienced deep connection in moments of silence, with myself and with those who have been in my field of awareness. Words do help, sometimes, to fill in the gaps where the connection seems to break or becomes contiguous.
Over the years, I longed to find that connection with myself all over again. No matter what I tried, it was not be possible to continue to hold that connection if I continued to dive into a sea of updates and information, most of which were not relevant to me. I started to wonder what it might be like to experience a withdrawal from the news, from what is going on in the world, the ‘vox populi’, just so that for some time, I could be present to my own inner voice for a longer period of time.
My scientific bent of mind prodded me to do a test run, which led me to delete the App from my phone for a few days. With my account still operational, I knew I could login anytime and ‘catch up’ with whatever I had missed. As time passed, I learnt to not pay attention to that in me which wanted to know, and instead I started to relish the ‘not knowing’. I had unknowingly missed this so much! It felt like an ecstatic reclamation of my spirit.
Much to the dismay of many people in my network, I had finally disengaged myself from all that was going on and found my peace. It seemed that my time, my attention, my voice and my feelings, had all been wrapped and delivered to me in the precious packaging of silence.
There was no fear and the accompanying list of ‘What Ifs’ that usually came with missing events or chats That seemed to fly away like the ashes from the fireplace which has spent its wood and has no warmth left to offer. I felt an unmistakable sense of joy. I was experiencing JOMO: the Joy of Missing Out.
I was so grateful to not know so many things in the world and still am. I started to trust the universe more, knowing that it would bring to me the messages that were meant for my highest good and find a way of enabling those who truly value my connection, to reach out to me. I am happy not knowing the latest products that fellow residents are buying, I am happy not having to catch up on what I missed on an important topic of discussion, I am happy not knowing what the school moms think about the homework or about the situation of the coronavirus in our city. I am grateful to have the contacts and resources to be able to access this information should I need to.
I have had reactions from people ranging from shock (on how I was able to survive without an Instant Messaging App), to suspicion (with people beginning to doubt my intention to keep in touch with them), to complaints (about how I have become so inaccessible, to even being labeled as selfish and unconcerned). To each, their own. I have offered no explanation nor apology. I am being me.
Life has been so generous with the dollops of time that I have gained as a result of this one choice. As a result of the extra time on my hands, I have been able to make the time and space to write again (this write up is one result of that), to learn a musical instrument (Ukulele, if you must know!), to sit back and wonder whom do I really want to spend my time with now? I am very present with my daughter and I have seen how she has flourished as a result of that.
Yes, time and space are constructs of the mind but the one undisputed way of measuring our human life on this Earth is to count the number of breaths we were allocated. If we take a look at the time that we had and what we have chosen to do with till now, it is a good indicator of how we value our life.
Wealth, health, social relations, all aside, the currency we have been endowed with for this life, is this finite number of breaths. What would we like to spend our waking moments on today?
If we were to bring this awareness to our daily lives, to be able to spend our moments purposefully, from a space of joy, we would living in ‘abundance’ in its purest sense. Scarcity of time comes from the unconscious splurging of moments through our day.
Every time we say ‘Yes’ to something that our heart does not want but we believe we must have – because that is what most people do or because we think saying ‘No’ will make us seem this or that – we are operating from a space of FOMO (Fear of Missing Out). We believe we will miss out on something and be left behind and will forever be unable to catch up with the rest. Catch up with what? Catch up for what? To go where? As Ram Dass said, “We are all walking each other home”.
I invite us all to reclaim the remaining breaths we have on this planet, remembering that death is the only thing that is certain. The next time you realize you missed an important meeting or a wedding or reading that popular book – make a conscious effort to move into a space of JOMO. Open up to the wonders of life that open up for you as a result of this missing out.
Being able to apply JOMO makes for a blissful life. You’ll see!
(This article is dedicated to my spiritual teacher Nithya Shanti, who introduced me to this concept of JOMO. I first experienced JOMO when I had to drop out of his spiritual retreat for the second time in a row. I learnt what I had to learn by not being a part of the retreat. How wonderful!).
Nnaumrata Arora Singh is a Writer, Changemaker, Social Artist, Conscious Living Coach, Workshop Facilitator, Circle Convenor, Systems Thinking Researcher.
Nnaumrata holds the vision of awakening and galvanizing the feminine spirit for a planetary transformation of consciousness.
She has leaned from over 21 years of work experience, including a 14 – year corporate tenure with leading MNCs, is the Founder of Life Beyond Motherhood, Zemyna Foundation, and co-leads the RISE (Religion, Interfaith and Spirituality for our Earth) sector for the Charter for Compassion.
Nnaumrata lives in India with her husband and 12 – year – old daughter.
If you feel called to be in touch with Nnaumrata, her email address is: