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Author: Robert Plotkin

Podcast Episode #4: Interview with Dr. Susan Maushart, Author of The Winter of Our Disconnect

We’ve just posted the latest episode of the Technology for Mindfulness Podcast, where Dr. Susan Maushart, author of The Winter of Our Disconnect: How Three Totally Wired Teenagers (and a Mother Who Slept with Her iPhone) Pulled the Plug on Their Technology and Lived to Tell the Tale, joins host Robert Plotkin for a discussion about how she and her three teenage children went technology-free in their home for six months.

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Podcast Episode #03: Interview with Dr. Judson Brewer, Author of The Craving Mind

We’ve just posted the latest episode of the Technology for Mindfulness Podcast, where Dr. Judson Brewer, Director of Research at the Center for Mindfulness, joins host Robert Plotkin for a discussion about Dr. Brewer’s recent book, The Craving Mind: From Cigarettes to Smartphones to Love – Why We Get Hooked and How We Can Break Bad Habits, which describes how our technology habits share many of the same neurological origins and traits as drug and food addictions, and how we can use mindfulness to break these harmful habit loops.

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Podcast Episode #02: Interview with Maggie Jackson, Author of Distracted

maggie-jackson-smallWe’ve just posted the latest episode of the Technology for Mindfulness Podcast, where author Maggie Jackson joins host Robert Plotkin for a discussion about how technology can distract us and what we can do about it. Jackson is an award-winning author and former Boston Globe columnist known for her penetrating coverage of social issues, especially technology’s impact on humanity. Her essays and articles have appeared in publications worldwide, including the The New York Times, Business Week, Utne, and on National Public Radio. Her acclaimed book, Distracted: The Erosion of Attention and the Coming Dark Age, jumpstarted our global conversation on the steep costs of fragmenting our attention. Jackson’s first book, What’s Happening to Home? Balancing Work, Life and Refuge in the Information Age, examined the loss of home as a refuge. Find more info on Maggie Jackson at maggie-jackson.com.

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Smartphone Liberation — MIT, February 10

Tomorrow I’ll be leading an interactive session at MIT called “Smartphone Liberation.” In the session I’ll guide attendees through a series of guided meditation exercises using their smartphones, with the intention of helping us to become more mindful of how we interact with our smartphones. Although most mindfulness training requires you to begin by turning off and putting away your smartphone, in this session I ask that you bring your smartphone with you so that you can engage with it directly and, we hope, a bit more mindfully by the end of the hour. The event is on Friday, February 10 from 12pm-1pm at MIT, Building 66, Room 144. Hope to see you there!

Five Ways to Practice Mindfulness Without Meditating

Zen stonesThe term “mindfulness” is often used hand in hand, or even synonymously, with “meditating,” and for good reason–mindfulness meditation is one of the most longstanding and widely-used techniques for practicing mindfulness.  It isn’t, however, the only way.  In Buddhist teaching it is said that there are 84,000 doors to enlightenment.  Here I’ll mention just five:

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Taking Control of Notifications to Take Back Your Attention

notificationsReceiving a reminder of an upcoming meeting or task from our smartphones can be a great way to remember to be somewhere to get something done on time.  All too often, however, our smartphones beep, flash, and vibrate at us every few minutes to provide us with information we don’t really need.  And we know that regaining our attention after such a distraction can take ten minutes or more, particularly if we were engaged in deep thought when interrupted.

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A Preemptive Strike in the Battle Against Messaging Fatigue

Do you feel like you spend more of your day responding to messages than living?  Do you need to turn off your smartphone at work and A Preemptive Strike in the Battle Against Messaging Fatiguehide in a closet just to get “real” work done?  If so, you may be suffering from messaging fatigue.

One source of this ailment is the need–whether perceived or real–to respond immediately to messages we receive. We feel that if someone sends us a message and we don’t respond immediately, something horrible will happen–we’ll lose a customer, damage a friendship, miss out on an opportunity.

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Making Email Slow Again

When I first began to use email in earnest, while a student at MIT in the early 1990s, writing and reading emails had much the same email-iconfeeling as writing and reading handwritten letters.  By far the easiest way to write an email was to go to one of a small number of computer clusters on campus and log in to a computer terminal.  The people I sent email messages to were few and far between, and they also had relatively infrequent access to an email-enabled computer.  So if you sent an email to someone, you expected that they might not read it and respond for at least a few days, if not much longer.  All of this encouraged the writing of messages that were relatively long and that provided information that could be quite out of date, much like a handwritten letter.

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Set Your Intention, See Your Intention

Set Your Intention, See Your IntentionSetting a clear intention is one of the most important parts of mindfulness practice.  At the beginning of the day you might set an intention to act respectfully towards everyone you interact with, to be grateful for what you have, or to exhibit generosity.

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