The concept of mindful technology is edging its way into the mainstream as more and more people want to break free of unhealthy digital habits.
Pete Dunlap, Founder of Digital Detangler, is poised to help with this uniquely modern problem. He empowers individuals, schools, and businesses to transform their digital environments for greater well-being.
When you read the latest headlines, you’d think technology is the worst thing to happen to couples since… well, ever. After all, it takes our attention away from our partners, right?
Not so fast. It’s not all bad news. Marla Mattenson has a different perspective, and it’s quite empowering.
Technology and Relationships: Better Together?
Marla is an accomplished relationship & intimacy expert who specializes in coaching entrepreneurs.
With her background in neuroscience, she uses pattern recognition to reveal the negative habitual responses couples experience and how to change them.
In her work with busy, tech-dependent professionals (and through personal experience), she began to see how technology, when used intentionally, can be a powerful tool to resolve conflict, build intimacy, and add a playful element to relationships.
Marla’s exciting insights about technology and relationships were the focus of her conversation with Robert Plotkin on the Technology for Mindfulness podcast.
Here are four practical tips from Marla on how to transform both your relationship and your business by using technology mindfully.
Four Ways to Improve Your Relationship Using Technology
1. Send supportive messages throughout the day (but at the right time)
The hustle of building a business often means long days at the office and frequent travel.
Technology is the perfect way to stay in touch. But for most of us, our daily messages are more practical than loving.
“What time are you getting home?” and “Did you thaw the chicken?” aren’t what Marla has in mind.
Instead, she recommends adding some playfulness and support to let your partner know you’re thinking of them.
Tell them they’re gonna rock that big meeting with investors
Send a funny meme if they’re low on energy and need a laugh
Record a ten-second video message to tell your partner how awesome they are and that you miss them
Or simply send a sweet emoji
Marla adds one crucial caveat: send your messages at the right time. Share your calendars so you can see when your partner has downtime. After all, sending a high-five emoji for their big investor meeting isn’t as helpful when their phone pings right in the middle of it!
Knowing each other’s calendars helps you stay in sync with their daily challenges and offer thoughtful support at just the right time.
2. Keep track of meaningful conversations – and act on them!
Another way to stay in tune with your partner is to take note of important things they say.
Whether it takes place within an everyday chat or a deep, soul-searching conversation, they’re sharing their interests, hopes, and dreams. It might be:
People they miss and want to see
Places they want to go
Items they would love
Experiences they want to have
Marla suggests keeping track of these on your smartphone as they happen.
Your partner may already be on to their next project, wishing they could make time, but you can set things in motion… and surprise them!
For example, perhaps you’re driving by a restaurant, and they mention how much they’d like to expand their horizons when it comes to food.
You could hop on Yelp right then and make a reservation for somewhere you’ve never gone.
Feeling heard is tremendously powerful in a relationship. Technology can help you remember these little details, so you can show them you’re always listening.
3. Use technology to diffuse emotionally charged moments
Despite your best efforts, you won’t always be in sync with your partner.
When conflicts happen, typical relationship advice is to stay away from technology. After all, your partner might misunderstand.
A famous study by UCLA researcher Albert Mehrabian showed that we overwhelmingly react to others not by the actual words spoken, but by their body language and tone of voice.
This might seem like a valid reason not to use technology when you have a conflict. But Marla takes a different approach.
She and her partner Julian decided in advance that during an argument, they can only send connecting, positive messages. Nothing mean or insulting that they’ll regret later – or that will add fuel to the fire.
There are two benefits to this:
Staying connected – You’re not completely blocking communication. For many couples, closing off contact altogether triggers feelings of abandonment, making them feel worse.
Committing to kindness and love – Even though you may not like the person at that moment, you’re remembering that you do love them, and you’ll get through this difficulty.
Marla also added an insightful tip: When you’re angry and not ready to talk, just send an emoji. Something as simple as a heart will show your partner that you love them, but you need space.
By intentionally choosing how you’ll use technology during a conflict, you can avoid saying (or texting) hurtful words in the heat of the moment.
4. Bonus for brave couples – reflect negative statements back to your partner
Speaking of hurtful words, Marla also shared a practice couples may want to use if something negative slips out, whether or not you’re in the midst of an argument.
She cautioned that it requires a lot of trust and vulnerability, but the rewards can be significant.
If you say something that impacts your partner in a negative way, give them permission to text it back to you. This is a form of reflection.
However, by using technology, it’s especially powerful because the words are devoid of all body language and tone of voice.
When you read it, you can perceive how harsh or unpleasant it was for your partner to hear.
Naturally, this requires a bit of bravery. Your partner must avoid “taking the bait” and responding negatively. You need to be open to seeing an ugly part of yourself. And vice versa.
To see if you’re ready, have a loving conversation about how you can both dedicate yourselves to the truth, no matter how difficult, rather than feeling comfortable. For many entrepreneur couples, personal growth is a common goal. Practices like these bring you closer to your partner and help you both grow into your best selves.
Use technology to improve your relationship
When you’re intentional about both, technology and relationships don’t have to be competing priorities.
Ready to put these tips into practice? Marla welcomes questions and comments!
You sit down at your computer, ready to tackle your day. And then it happens.
A notification pops up – you’ve got three new emails. Before you can open them, there’s an instant message on the bottom of your screen.
Then you hear your phone ping and think, “Is that the sound of a calendar reminder or just a reply on my social media post? I’d better check before I start working…” And so it goes.
In today’s notification-obsessed world, it’s harder than ever to focus. Distractions like these can really add up.
Not only do you lose time reacting, but it also takes time to refocus. In fact, according to a study from the University of California Irvine, it takes an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds to get back to a task after being interrupted.
Fortunately, technology doesn’t always have to be a distraction– it can also be a tool to help you focus.
10 Mindfulness-based tools to reduce distractions and improve your focus
We’ve gathered 10 of the best mindfulness-based tools that put the power back in your hands. Tools to reduce distractions and help you get your best work done.
These technologies will help you focus by blocking interruptions, removing distractions, getting you in the zone, and reminding you to take short breaks for better productivity. Ready to have a more mindful work day?
Let’s take a look!
Tools to reduce distractions
Our culture often feels the need to respond to everything the moment it arrives, but it’s really not necessary.
Tools like these allow you to pause the continuous stream of information for a period of time, so you can concentrate without interruption. You decide when to check emails, texts, and instant messages– not the person sending them to you.
Regardless of whether you use Windows or a Mac, you can pause notifications on your computer. Microsoft calls it Focus Assist in Windows 10 (known as Quiet Hours in earlier versions).
On your mac, it’s called Do Not Disturb. These tools work for desktop computers, laptops, and tablets. Take time to get familiar with the options, rather than letting the default setting disrupt your day.
Just like the tools above, you can pause notifications on your phone, both Android and iPhone. Many of us are juggling multiple devices – you may have a laptop open, the phone next to you, and tablet across the room.
Make sure you check out all the do not disturb settings available. Otherwise, you might find yourself reacting to whatever technology is making a noise!
Tools to avoid procrastination
We’ve all fallen into that black hole of social media. Whether you love reading about the latest Game of Thrones episode, watching cat videos, or commenting on politics, we’ve all been there.
Two of these tools let you limit access to certain websites or apps for periods of time. The third tool is geared toward writers who want a distraction-free interface to avoid any temptation to stray from their work.
Freedom is a website and app blocker. This tool has some great customization features to make it work for you. You can block only certain sites, the entire internet, or everything except the sites you need.
Freedom also allows you to schedule your blocks in advance – you can even save frequently used blocks so you don’t have to set it up every time. Think you can be sneaky and check your phone to access a blocked site? Freedom can sync blocks across all of your devices.
They offer a seven-day free trial. After that, you can pay $6.99 per month, $29 per year or $129 for lifetime access.
FocusMe offers a similar service to Freedom. Like Freedom, you can block specified websites and apps using a scheduler or as needed.
However, it doesn’t sync across devices (yet). It works with Mac, Windows, and Android – iOS is coming soon.
FocusMe has some additional features like break reminders and a built-in Pomodoro timer.
This is a popular productivity technique that uses a timer to break down work into intervals, traditionally 25 minutes in length, separated by short breaks. FocusMe is a nice all-in-one tool if you’re trying to be more mindful and productive.
At the moment, their Android version is free. For Mac and Windows, it’s $6.99 per month, $30 per year, or $119.99 for lifetime access.
Focus@Will is a unique music streaming service. They offer specially curated and produced music tracks designed to improve your focus.
They claim, “Scientists have discovered that depending on your personality type, there is a specific type of music that when engineered just right, puts your brain into a flow state making you hyperfocused and exponentially more productive.”
Based on their research, they assign types of music based on a questionnaire you answer when signing up. However, you can listen to any of the music in their collections. Focus@Will offers a two-week trial, then it’s $89.95 per year.
For some people, music can be distracting in and of itself. You might prefer a little background noise instead.
Noisli is a site that allows you to create your own set of background sounds by combining clips from rain, water, wind, and more.
As one user says, “Perfect for working to — enough background noise to help me concentrate but not distracting enough to prevent me from being able to read or write. I love being able to layer the sounds and change the volume simultaneously as well!”
Do Nothing for 2 Minutes is brilliantly simple. It displays a countdown timer for two minutes on top of a peaceful nature scene. If you move your mouse or touch the keyboard, it will start again. Available for free on any browser.
Time Out promotes a similar idea – that you need to pause throughout the day. However, it has more features.
The default settings offer a “Normal” break (typically for 10 minutes every hour) and a “Micro” break (a brief pause of typically 15 seconds every 15 minutes). This helps you remember not to tense up too much for long periods. You can change or remove either kind of break, or add new ones.
Available on the App Store for free or you can make a donation.
Use these tools to reduce distractions and get your best work done
You don’t have to be a victim of constant interruptions.
Use these tools to reduce distractions as well as maximize your focus, so you can get your best work done.
Are there any others you’ve found that help you reduce distractions and improve your focus? Let us know in the comments!
For many of us, the holidays are a time when we spend precious connected moments with our loved ones. We may also engage in sacred rituals associated with these holidays. Regardless of how you celebrate the holidays — or even if you don’t celebrate them specifically — this may well be one of the few times during the year when you can enjoy the presence of your family and friends in person and celebrate your relationships together. Continue reading Social Media: Taking a Break
The so-called “desktop metaphor” has been around on personal computers for about 40 years and is still the dominant way of visually organizing information. It was originally designed to emulate a physical desktop on which you put folders, files, and other types of documents and devices.
Regardless of how you feel about computer desktops, they can become cluttered just like a physical desktop, which can be distracting, stress-inducing, and hinder your productivity.
If your desktop is filled from top to bottom with icons, are you aware of whether just glancing at that desktop hundreds of times throughout the day causes any feelings of stress? Perhaps you catch an icon for a document you’re working on out of the corner of your eye. It may cause a thought or worry about how you’re going to complete that document. The thought may be fleeting and you may only be semi-aware of it. However, consider the cumulative impact of having so many experiences like this throughout your day just because of how many times you are looking at that desktop.
Here are a few tips you can follow to remove the clutter from your desktop.
Relocate the Clutter
If you like having all of those icons on your desktop because you feel that they are easy to find, I have one simple suggestion that will let you access everything just as easily without cluttering your visual space and creating any anxiety. Just create a single folder on your desktop called “Desktop” and move all of the icons from your desktop into that folder. Now your desktop is clear, but you can still access everything that was in it by opening that folder.
You lose virtually no productivity by taking this step while potentially making a very significant gain in how relaxed, calm, and de-stressed you feel when looking at your desktop.
To make sure you keep enjoying the benefits of this practice over time, you must close the folder after opening it so that its contents are no longer visible. Otherwise, you will be seeing the clutter just as regularly as you would if it were scattered around the desktop.
As an additional step, you can create a small number of subfolders within your new desktop folder. Keep it very simple — you might just have a folder for apps and separate folders for different types of documents (word processing, spreadsheets, photos, etc.). If you make too many folders, you will start making it hard to find documents and reduce the benefits that this simple method provides.
Maintain the Habit
Now, you merely need to keep your desktop from becoming cluttered again over time. The most common ways in which this happens occur when installing new apps or creating new folders on your computer. Move those icons and documents into your desktop folder.
Even if you’re someone who loves having a full desktop, try out this approach and see how different you feel when booting up your computer in the morning and seeing a completely tidy space. You could even use a desktop background image that you love in order to stay motivated to keep it from being blocked by countless icons.
Once you make the small investment of time and energy required to start using this method, it takes very little effort to maintain it over time. You can get a huge payback in feeling calm while maintaining very high productivity.
On this blog, we often provide tips for how to make more mindful, productive, and efficient use of technology. It’s easier to describe what to do than to actually create and engage in the habit of doing it. Suggesting that you don’t use your smartphone immediately upon waking up in the morning or within an hour of going to bed doesn’t make creating and following that habit easy to do. Today, I’ll offer three pointers that will improve your chances of forming a new and enduring technology habit.
Ease into It
Many of us try to create a new habit by just engaging in it directly. For example, if you want to practice not using your smartphone for an hour after you wake up, you might try going cold turkey right away. I’ve found that this approach often results in failure, as it doesn’t help change my behavior or reinforce the intended behavior.
Try easing into a habit like this: On the first night, start out by not using your phone for the last five minutes before you go to bed. That should be much easier than an hour. Practice that for a few days, a week, or until you feel like that habit is ingrained and does not need additional practice. Then increase the amount of time and keep expanding the habit in that way until you reach your original goal.
By easing into it, you may find that you’re more likely to create the habit than if you try to bite off the entire task from the beginning. Start with a smaller, more manageable version of it and increase it over time.
Make It Easy on Yourself
When I try to create a new habit for myself, I often do it in a very austere kind of way. This can work if I pose some structure around it, but it can be quite boring. Other than the reward of feeling like I’ve accomplished my goal, it doesn’t really create any other positive associations in my mind. As a result, I’ve found that trying to create a new habit in this way sometimes either fails or leads to habits that don’t stick.
With that said, there’s a wide variety of ways to make it easier to create the habit. For example, these are all things I’ve done and you can try:
Enlist the help of your friends, family, and coworkers to support you. For example, they can provide reminders for you or even just give moral support.
Use technology to set a reminder to do or not do something.
Associate a positive feeling with this new habit. Focus and draw your attention to that positive feeling.
You may worry that these tricks are crutches. If you ask friends to remind you of something, you may feel like you’ll rely on them and may stop engaging in the habit altogether if they stop reminding you. On the flip side, sometimes we can do things to help us create a habit and supports for the habit, and once the habit is ingrained in our minds and bodies, we no longer need those initial supports to keep the habit going.
Be creative when thinking about what you might be able to do to help you form a new habit. In addition, make the trigger for engaging in it fun if that helps you.
Pay Attention to How You Feel Each Time After Engaging in the Habit
Say you’re practicing not using your phone before bed. Maybe you set an alarm 15 minutes before bed to remind yourself not to use your phone. When that 15 minutes is over, pay attention to how you feel now that you have not used your phone. Bringing my attention to how I feel after I’ve practiced something I want to form as a habit actually helps that habit to form better. It’s a way to bring mindfulness to the formation of a new habit to help enforce the behavior you’re trying to habituate in yourself. Bear in mind that you can apply these tips to any kind of habits. I hope you find them helpful for any change that you are seeking.
Do you find that it’s hard to turn your work mind off even after you stop working? Is the “end of the work day” concept foreign to you because you keep your nose so close the grindstone? Many of us find ourselves in this situation — particularly with smartphones, laptops, and mobile internet enabling us to stay connected at all times.
Those of us who work from home can find it especially difficult to create boundaries between work and personal life. Here are some suggestions for doing just that.
1. Try to develop a regular work schedule.
This allows you to get into the habit of starting and stopping work at certain times of the day. It doesn’t have to be a traditional schedule. Just find what works for you. It can even include several different periods of work on different days. The key is doing your best to schedule certain regular times for starting and stopping work, creating a habit in your mind through repetition.
2. Develop starting and ending work habits/rituals.
These are certain actions that you perform and thoughts that you have to transition your mind into and out of work mode. They could be as simple as stopping and pausing for 5 or 10 seconds and thinking about what you’re going to transition into. You might say it out loud or in your mind to engage your focus. It could be something as simple as arranging things on your desk or simply starting work. No matter the tasks, these should help you make the mental transition to and from work.
Rituals are found in
several other traditions. For instance, when you walk into a Japanese martial arts school, you pause and bow at the threshold before entering. At the beginning of each class, there is also a bowing ceremony. I was always taught that one of this ritual’s purposes is to help us reach a more focused mental state.
These tips have something in common: They help to create and enforce mental boundaries between work time and non-work time. I think these boundaries have always existed, but it’s particularly important these days to intentionally create them because they’re missing in the way that many of us work. Technology makes information and communication available to us at all times and in all places.
Many of us can work without going into an office, with different people, and on different projects. Obviously, this situation suffers from a lack of boundaries.
If we want to have them in our lives, we have to create them ourselves through force of habit.
Our culture strongly promotes the idea that the newest technology is always the best. That belief is spread by its makers with their own incentives for encouraging us to always buy the latest version of every product. However, sometimes using older technology can be better in terms of reaching our mindfulness goals. Today’s tip is to not automatically reach for the shiny new toy. Instead, be aware of your options so you can make wise and mindful choices about which technology to use in any particular situation. I’ve given a few specific examples, but I encourage you to apply the same principle to all aspects of your life. Focus your attention on becoming aware of any opportunities to use older technology or no technology at all when you want to get something done.
Writing the Old-Fashioned Way
Most of us do nearly all of our writing on devices. When was the last time you wrote an actual letter to someone? Using pen and paper is just one of the writing options you should explore:
I often write first drafts of longer things such as essays or work memos by hand. I find it easier for me to dump out my ideas without distraction or editing that way.
You may also want to try some of the distraction-free word processors that we’ve mentioned before if you want to stay more focused while writing. They show you little more than a blank screen so that you can stay focused on the words you are writing and not the toolbar, menu, or any other visual elements.
Some authors have even switched back to using old-fashioned typewriters for their novels and other books — or at least their first drafts.
Try out different options and see what works best for you. Although I use an app on my phone to keep track of my tasks, sometimes I find it more effective to quickly jot them down on a small piece of paper so that they’re easier and faster for me to find and look at as I move from task to task. Efficiency and focus are not the only reasons you might want to try using older forms of technology for writing. If you want to convey a personal and heartfelt message to someone (such as a thank-you or condolences for a loss), many people find it more meaningful to receive that kind of message in hand-written form than by email or even a pre-printed card. You may find that writing out the message longhand helps you focus not only on the content of what you’re writing but the feeling behind it. You might experience that feeling more deeply than you would on a device.
One Size Doesn’t Fit All
Now I’ll use the flip side of writing: reading. While I do an incredible amount of reading on devices, scientific research confirms that attempting to read anything longer than a paragraph on a modern device’s screen can be extremely frustrating and counterproductive. This is in large part due to the number of distractions that our devices present to us while we are reading. The good news is that many other options are available to us, and they don’t all involve giving up on technology completely.
For reading books, I have an older black-and-white Kindle that only shows me the text of the book. This is a much more pleasant and calming way to read, and it helps me absorb more of what I’m reading than on a smartphone or computer. Think about the size of the screen that you use to read different types of messages too. I don’t know anyone who’d want to read a long piece on an Apple Watch. On the other hand, a smartphone can be a great way to read text messages. As a general rule, most people find it easier to read longer works on bigger screens, but try out different options to determine what works best for you. I don’t want to suggest wasting paper at the expense of the environment, but in some cases, I print out documents to read them on paper — particularly if I need to provide the author with feedback on what has been written because I find it both easier to stay focused on what I’m reading and to jot down notes on paper than on a word processor. Despite all of the advances with screens and document software, I still find it easier to quickly glance back at previous parts of a document on paper than on a screen.
When I’m done, I either scan the document with my hand-written edits or type the edits into the document on a word processor.
Consider Your Options
Writing and reading are just two examples of how many different technological options are available to help you avoid the common trap of automatically turning to the latest technology or whatever technology you happen to be using at the moment. We all tend to engage in that kind of technological inertia or let it dictate which technologies we use and how we use them. But if we apply some mindfulness to pause, step back, and reflect on what our intention is for the task at hand while considering our options, we can then make a conscious choice based on our intention and understanding of our current situation. As a result, we will be less likely to rush ahead automatically and more likely to engage in that task in a way that is not only more productive but also more satisfying.
I have no natural sense of direction. As a result, I think the GPS is one of the greatest inventions in human history. I rely on the GPS on my phone to get me almost everywhere and appreciate it not only because of its obvious purpose but also because it reduces the stress of driving, walking, and traveling to new places. It gives me the confidence to go places on my own that I normally wouldn’t try to travel to without a GPS. At the same time, I’ve become aware of how overly reliant I’ve become on my GPS and how I tend to use it in a way that does not necessarily help me become engaged with, aware of, and attuned to my surroundings.
Each of the companies has a different name for the department responsible for the initiatives. Apple calls it “Digital Health” whereas Google calls it “Digital Well Being.” Right at the top of Google’s Digital Well Being webpage, it says, “Great Technology should improve life, not distract from it.”
A Great Message
The initiatives are going to include a variety of features for their products, like an enhanced version of Do Not Disturb and other ways of giving users more control over how and when they’re interrupted or distracted by their devices. Some features will provide you with in-depth, quantitative information about how frequently you’re using your phone and what you use it for. I think the details of these initiatives aren’t as important as the magnitude of the message Apple and Google are sending. Like most companies on the internet, they have based a significant part of their business model on distracting people and encouraging them to maximize how much time they spend on their products and devices. The launch of these company-wide initiatives is a pretty groundbreaking and historic event for two of the big five tech companies. The fact that they’ve decided to create and make major announcements about these initiatives shows that they are taking the problems seriously enough to invest in shifting their direction to enable people to live more balanced technological lives.
A Shift in Direction
It’s clear that some of the features of these initiatives will help people to spend less time using the devices and apps that Google and Apple make and sell. They must have decided that this would be more helpful to them overall from a business perspective.
I’m sure part of it was in response to increasing demand from individuals and businesses to address the problems of constant distraction and overuse of technology. Some of it may have been the result of a desire for people to use their devices in limited ways rather than not at all to avoid distraction. I don’t know what all of the reasons were behind these decisions. To a certain extent, they don’t matter to me.
In the end, it’s certainly a positive that these two huge tech companies have taken the initiative to display that they care about the well being of their users. I applaud Google and Apple for taking these steps and moving their future technology development plans in a direction that will give people more transparent information about how they’re using their products and more power over how they use them.
With all that said, both companies have previously taken other steps to address digital addiction and all of the issues we discuss on this blog. Let’s stay mindful of how they implement these major initiatives in response to our needs.
For those of you who are old enough to remember what it was like to attend a meeting before the internet, the only opportunity to speak to that person was at the scheduled appointment. I remember when I started working as a lawyer and I was going to meet with a client. What would I do? I would prepare! Continue reading Let’s Start Planning for Meetings as if There’s No Internet
We all know that the image people portray of themselves on social media is highly selective and curated. People often post only the information that paints them in a positive light and makes them seem as interesting as possible. As a result, their social media lives don’t always reflect their full reality.
As mindfulness in the West is picking up and taking off as a popular movement, I’m getting the feeling that many people are being introduced to it as a purely intellectual and mental practice. After all, the word “mind” is in mindfulness.
Have you ever watched a tennis sequence in which a player serves and the receiver runs in reaction to the serve and then hits the ball back off balance? Throughout the exchange, the server stands firm and is seemingly dictating where and when the receiver moves.
Since I write and teach about using technology mindfully, many people assume that I’m somehow naturally gifted at that practice. They believe I’m always focused at work and never struggle with distractions when I should be doing something more productive. In fact, when I tell people about my work in this field, they get embarrassed and think I will look down on them because of how poorly or distractedly they use technology. Continue reading You Use Technology More Mindfully Than I Do
Do you ever feel like your smartphone is calling to you even when it’s just sitting in your pocket not doing anything? When your phone beeps, vibrates, or buzzes, do you ask yourself, “Why is my phone doing this to me?!?”
Whether you’re a writer, an artist, or simply trying to figure out a creative solution to a difficult problem, there’s one thing standing in your way. One thing that would have never been a problem 15 years ago! Just one little thing that’s blocking your way to thinking more creatively. What is it? Technology, of course.
We all struggle with anxiety once in awhile, but for some it can feel worse and more difficult to control. At times, it can feel nearly debilitating. Some turn to meditation, others visit psychiatrists despite their fears of the stigma it holds. But there’s another way to help you control your anxiety… no medication, no stigma, and you can do it from your phone! What is it?
Winter Feast is a 40 day Worldwide Spiritual Practice Period everyone is invited to join.
It’s for people of all faiths who take part in committing 40 minutes of spiritual practice each day for forty days. The intention behind Winter feast is to create peace in each individual’s life and to extend to others as well. Participants are also invited to practice daily acts of kindness. Although it may seem like only a small group of people setting out to do this, the impact of such an act can be much greater.
“Never doubt that a small group of committed people can change the world. Indeed it is the only thing that ever has.” — Margaret Mead
Winter Feast is from the morning of January 15th until February 23rd. As most of the Northern Hemisphere is deep in winter during this time, it’s a perfect way to begin the New Year to reconnect with spirit and bring our awareness to a new level.
“What nine months does for the embryo, forty early mornings will do for your growing awareness.” — Rumi
Typically, when we think about mindfulness, we think about avoiding technology—putting away our smartphones, taking a break from TV or computers. But really, technology and mindfulness aren’t so different. How? They’re both tools to help us solve problems and achieve certain objectives… one is just focused on external problems while the other focuses on the internal.
Today, people use their phones for a variety of different tasks and we’re using them all throughout the day! In fact, many people spend 5+ hours per day using their smartphones. And while technology can help us in countless ways, it’s not always the best thing for us. I mean, take a look at Generation Z, the generation that has grown up with technology, and you’ll see the changes it brings about in us as individuals!
We’ve seen hilarious videos and stories of the problems smartphone distraction can cause—I mean, hilarious for us, rather embarrassing for them. Things like running into (and falling into) a water fountain in the middle of a city, or walking straight into a construction zone, both while staring at the phone screen. How are we so enthralled by our phones? How do we allow them to distract us so much? And what else are we missing out on if we’re missing these blatantly obvious obstacles in front of us?
As technology keeps evolving, each generation of parents has had to deal with problems that their parents or grandparents could have never dreamt! First, it was TV, then it was video games “rotting the brain,” and now smartphones. What will come next? Who knows?! And it seems like with each new technology the effect is different… and often worse.
Take Generation Z for example, the generation after Millennials. The generation that grew up with iPads and smartphones—they’ve never known life without being constantly connected! And that’s created a HUGE leap in characteristic changes from their parents and grandparents. They’ve become the generation that’s not interested in independence; they already have so much independence online, and that’s become good enough for them. But there’s one other change today’s teens are suffering from: depression.
Most people regularly (or at least semi-regularly) go through their stuff and declutter. We donate old clothes, we throw away broken items around the house, we host yard sales to sell off those things that we no longer want or need. It can feel cleansed and refreshing! So why should our digital clutter be any different?
Plus, eliminating digital clutter can have another benefit: reduced anxiety.
With everyone online account you have, with every device you own, your cyber security decreases. It’s great that you’re watching out for phishing and got strong, unique passwords on all your accounts, but what’s even more helpful to your cyber security—and your peace of mind—is cleaning things up!
We all know that each generation has different experiences, they grow up in a different time, so it’s impossible not to! But is the latest generation, generation Z, missing out? Has their generation been destroyed by technology? We’ve all see the articles online saying things like “Millennials are killing fabric softener” or “Millennials are running the wine industry,” but what about the generation after them? The generation that is now beginning to reach early adulthood?
Generally, from generation-to-generation characteristics will change gradually. But Jean Twenge, a Psychology professor at San Diego State University, who has been studying the changes among generations for years, noticed a huge shift in the Z generation.
Work is a place that we can easily feel stressed and overwhelmed. Maybe you have multiple projects going at the same time or an impossibly short deadline that your boss wants you to meet. It’s happened to all of us at one point! The key to keeping calm under all this stress? Mindfulness.
When a workplace promotes mindfulness a few changes begin to happen. The entire company culture changes. The workplace begins to attract (and keep) the best employees. And performance within the company improves!
How much time do you spend on your phone each day? I bet it’s probably more than you’d expect! According to a new study, U.S. consumers spend an average of 5 hours per day on their phones. That means that about ⅓ of your time awake is spent staring at a phone screen. If you ask me, that’s a lot of time wasted. And nearly 20% of that time is being spent on Facebook—FOMO, anyone?
Our smartphones are constantly dinging and ringing, alerting us of notifications all day long. And don’t get me started on how much time we waste looking at all of these (mostly unimportant) notifications. Sometimes it can make smartphones feel more stressful and annoying than a helpful tool. Does anyone else just slightly miss the days before smartphones? But it doesn’t have to feel that way… in fact, our phones can be a tool of relaxation!
Have you ever had a lucid dream? A dream where you were able to tell that it was a dream and not reality? The concept of lucidity has been around for a long time. In Buddhist practice there’s something called “dream yoga” the practice of meditating in a lucid dream. But now, researchers are beginning to learn how incorporate it into virtual reality.
Unfortunately, not the pay gap, although hopefully that will improve soon too!
While some people choose to gift flowers, jewelry, or cute nic nacs to their mothers or wives on special occasions, others choose the route of technology. And do you want to know why? Although we’re all aiming for gender equality, it’s no secret that women still have it rougher than men, and technology can help change that!
We’re living in an “always on” society. We’re always doing something, we’re always connected, we’re always right by our phones (and reaching it more than we should). Whether it’s a call from your boss asking if you can come in on your day off or an email from an important client on the weekend, we’re never fully disconnected from our work, are we?
A new law is attempting to help French workers relax outside of work, giving them the “right to disconnect.”
While technology does a lot to distract us from the present and bring us stress, it can also do a lot to help us relax and be more present. As much as I like to encourage people to set their devices down and be present, we all use technology—it’s not going anywhere! So why not embrace it and use in a way that will help us live a better life?
We’ve talked about using apps and even virtual reality to help us relax, but technology has come much further than that!
Take a look at these companies that have taken relaxation to a whole new level with the help of technology!
You’re about to start cooking dinner when you have a question about the recipe… what can you substitute for tarragon? So you pull out your phone to type your question into Google. But what happens first? You see a new text message, notifications from 3 different apps… By the time you’ve finished checking everything out you’ve completely forgotten why you originally grabbed your phone in the first place.
Does that sound like something that’s happened to you? It’s probably happened to most of us!
Move over Headspace, there’s a new player in the mindfulness app game and it goes by the name of Calm—and they’re aiming to become more than just an app. Calm is a 14-person mindfulness startup. The founders, Michael Acton Smith and Alex Tew, began the company with hopes of commercializing the countless benefits of meditation.
With little advertisement, aside from Facebook for generating leads, Calm managed to garner 8 million app downloads.
Mindfulness is something which the medical world has yet to fully accept as a means for treating patients. Although mindful meditation has a variety of benefits, and has been around for thousands of years, it’s a relatively new concept to many doctors. One of the many things that meditation has been shown to aid in the treatment of is anxiety disorder, a condition that affects nearly 7 million Americans.
Today, it seems as though there’s an app for everything—whatever your problem, technology seems to have a solution. And why should health care be any different? The world of mHealth (mobile health) is constantly expanding. Soon, those suffering from physical pain on a daily basis will also be able to start experiencing the benefits of mobile health with the help of Ella.
Technology is such an integral part of our lives, and as technology evolves and becomes more useful, it also becomes more manipulative and addictive. And the things is, the creators of these technologies know that—they design their websites or apps to work in this way. Sometimes they do it unknowingly, but more often than not it’s something that’s purposely built into the design.
If we’re not mindful about how we’re using many of the technologies that are so prevalent in our lives, then it can be easy to let it control us.
Virtual reality… another device to help us mindlessly waste time, play more games and watching more videos, right? While there are some experimental educational uses for VR such as virtual tours and potential medical uses, for the most part the general public (or the small portion of them that actually own a VR device) is using virtual reality for gaming and time-wasting activities.
Today children are exposed to screens of all sorts from an early age: TV screens, phone screens, tablet screens, etc. A huge change from the times when the most screen-time children got was watching Saturday morning cartoons. Today we have 24/7 cartoon channels, games on phones, tablets, computers, and even devices made specifically for children. As much as we’d love for our children to get outside and play as often as we did, or sit down with a pile of building blocks and create their own entertainment for hours-on-end, that just isn’t the reality of today any longer. So what does this shift to more screen time mean for young developing minds?
Have you ever been at work feeling tired and unfocused, like you’re not accomplishing anything? Most of us feel like this at some point throughout the workweek. One survey has shown that 31% of people waste at least 30 minutes each workday and another 31% waste an entire hour feeling unproductive. One way to combat wasted time is by practicing mindfulness at work.
Are you the type of person that’s constantly doing more than one thing? Do you regularly eat while you’re working? Do you check your emails, social media notifications, and look at news in the morning while you’re getting ready for the day? You’re not alone, most of us multitask, and many of us think we’re pretty good at it, but most of us have no idea what multitasking is doing to us.
Yoga in schools is something that has been a controversial topic since it was introduced in public schools years ago. Having roots in Hinduism there has been the question of whether yoga is a religious practice, and thus violating the separation between church and state.
Some argue that the religious association of yoga means it does not belong in schools; others, like amaZEN U, see yoga as a way to teach mindfulness, empathy, improve focus, and take “brain breaks” throughout the school day to improve performance in the class.
Is the internet giving us a false sense of knowledge? That’s what three Yale psychologists set out to find in a very interesting study.
This study conducted by Matthew Fisher, Mariel K. Goddu, and Frank C. Keil has shown that simple researching on the internet can inflate one’s estimate of their own internal knowledge. This phenomenon isn’t related to any particular subject and can even transfer into other, un-related subjects!
You’re sitting at work with what feels like 10 million things to do before the day is over and you’re starting to feel the stress build… sound familiar? You need to relax, but at the same time, if you stop to relax, that means less time you’ll have to work on everything—it’s truly a dilemma. What if the solution to your problem was sitting right beside you? What if your phone could give you that short stress-relieving break you need without wasting too much of your time?
How often do you set a goal that you don’t stick to? Ever forget to follow through on a new years resolution? We’ve all done it. Most of us have done it when it comes to losing weight. We say we’re going to do it, but somewhere after week one we trail off. This is exactly what stickK looks to resolve.