Testing requirements. New standards. Budget cuts. Bigger class sizes. Demanding parents.
It’s no wonder teacher stress levels are among the highest of any occupation.
Continue reading 5 Mindfulness Practices for Stressed-Out Teachers
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
A critical part of mindfulness is paying attention to our experience in the present moment.
Continue reading Beyond Noticing: Putting Mindfulness into Action
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?!?”Continue reading How to Manage the Pull of Your Smartphone
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.
Continue reading Using Technology to Bring Mindfulness into Your Day
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!
As even more studies on how technology impacts us come out, researchers are urging us to start limiting our screen time.
Continue reading The Best Apps to Help You Live in the Moment
If there were something that you could do for free, something that took less than a half hour per day, that was scientifically proven to boost energy and brainpower, would you do it? For most of us, that answer is a resounding YES! Unless it’s hard or takes a lot of effort…
Well, I have news—it exists. Honestly, it could take as little effort as sitting silently and focusing on your breath for 25 minutes.
Continue reading Study: Meditation vs. Yoga for a Brain & Energy Boost
We’ve talked before about using mindfulness at a personal level in the workplace to reduce stress. But you may have also heard the term “mindful company.” So what does it really mean to be a “mindful company”? This term has only started to gain popularity in recent years. In fact, many still question whether this is really possible or just a term brands like to toss around to sound more appealing to customers and employees.
Continue reading What’s A Mindful Company & What Does It Take To Be One?
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.
Join us for the first program of the semester of our Hack Your Mind series with Dr. Susan Gabrieli. Dr. Gabrieli is a neuroscientist and Senior Research Scientist for the McGovern Institute for Brain Research.
Continue reading Mindfulness Event This Friday!
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!
As we age our cognitive abilities tend to decline. We begin misplacing items more often (keys and glasses, anyone?), it becomes more difficult to solve problems, or we may have trouble remembering names. It’s all just a natural part of aging, right? Maybe it doesn’t have to be!
Research shows that the adult brain changes with experience and training. The healthier and more active your lifestyle, the better your cognitive performance will be as you age. But a healthy lifestyle isn’t limited to just diet and exercise, new research is finding that meditation may also be a key factor in maintaining brain health as we age!
When you were younger—before your first smartphone—do you remember ever being bored? If you’re like most people, you’re probably thinking, “yeah, of course!” So what did you do when you got bored? Now, this answer is going to be immensely different for every single one of us, but the bottom line is: we entertained ourselves! And most of the time, this entertainment took a little creativity.
Well, now that smartphones have become such an integral part of our lives, boredom is virtually a thing of the past!
Years ago who would have ever imagined finding a date online? But then came dating sites like Match.com and eHarmony, and it took the effort out of meeting new people and dating. Today finding a date has become even more mindless with sites like Tinder where you simply swipe left or right to find a match and get a date. Now, though, as mindfulness is beginning to gain popularity, we seem to be reverting back to good ol’ conversation to find a date!
At MNDFL, a meditation studio in New York City, something’s starting to happen… people have started finding relationships offline, relationships based on common interests, not just physical appearance.
With the price of healthcare today, many individuals and professionals are looking for ways to shorten treatment lengths and lower costs. The answer to this may be a simple thing called gratitude. There have been multiple studies done on the physical, psychological, and social benefits of gratitude, all of which come to the same conclusion: gratitude can lead to a healthier and happier quality of life. So, let’s break down some of the reasons for practicing gratitude.
Mark Bauerlein earned his doctorate in English at UCLA in 1988 & has taught at Emory since 1989, with a two-and-a-half year break in 2003-05 to serve as the Director, Office of Research & Analysis, at the National Endowment for the Arts. Apart from his scholarly work, he publishes in popular periodicals such as The Wall Street Journal, The Weekly Standard, The Washington Post, TLS, and Chronicle of Higher Education. His latest book, “The Dumbest Generation: How the Digital Age Stupefies Young Americans and Jeopardizes Our Future (Or, Don ‘t Trust Anyone Under 30)“, is available for purchase online.
If you’re like most people, in the past you’ve probably thought something along the lines of “wow, I’ve been so busy all day, but what did I accomplish?” Right? So we all know that there’s definitely a difference between being busy and being productive. In fact, many of us are just doing too much—we aren’t focusing finishing on one individual task. Instead, we’re doing many things at once and not finishing any of them!
We need to keep up and keep going is driving people to do more, but actually live with less.
Neil Seligman is the Founder of The Conscious Professional, the Author of 100 Mindfulness Meditations and one of the UK’s leading experts in Corporate Mindfulness, Wellbeing and Professional Resilience.
In this episode Neil discusses about his work at The Conscious Professional and what his mission and goal is. According to Neil his practice brings skills of mindfulness to professionals. His vision is enlightened executives and conscious businesses. Neil links mindfulness to professional excellence, and his vision is to find the missing link in many professionals who are not able to express themselves in the exterior reality. The internal world is the key to emotional intelligence and we have to find peace within ourselves.
Life moving too fast? Let expert Robert Plotkin teach you 3 simple mindfulness techniques to help you regain focus, better understand how technology affects your daily life, and take concrete steps towards improved mindfulness. Don’t miss out on this exclusive event on August 15th or 17th!
Register for August 15th at 7 pm Eastern webinar here:
Register for August 17th at 12 pm Eastern webinar here:
As an added bonus, if you sign up early you will receive a FREE gift — 10 Tips to Tap Into Mindfulness.
For the past eight years, Emmy-nominated filmmaker Tiffany Shlain, her husband & two children have embraced “Technology Shabbat”, a modernized version of the Jewish day of rest, where they break away from digital screens & other technology for 24 hours. Shlain joins host Robert Plotkin to discuss how “Technology Shabbat” works & doesn’t prevent her & her husband from embracing technology in their everyday lives. Tiffany Shlain is an American filmmaker, author, & public speaker regarded as an internet pioneer for her work, including founding the Webby Awards, co-founding the International Academy of Digital Arts & Sciences & running the Moxie Institute Film Studio & Lab. She lives in Northern California with husband Goldberg whom she frequently collaborates with on art installations & other projects. Find more info on Tiffany Shlain’s “Technology Shabbat” at http://www.moxieinstitute.org/
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.
You already know about meditation, and you may have heard that it’s becoming more mainstream—it’s not just for Buddhists or those totally chill hipsters. But technology is bringing mindfulness and meditation into the general public! Why? Because it can be beneficial to anyone. And with wearable relaxation technology and meditation apps, there’s no doubt that it’s only just beginning.
And one place that needs it most is the workplace.
The worlds of technology and health and constantly growing closer and closer together. Whether you’re at a medical hospital, physical therapy, or visiting a psychiatrist, chances are that technology is going to play a role in your treatment.
One such technology is making a name for itself in the medical and psychological community as an innovative way to help treat patients with major depressive disorder (MDD). Those with MDD have an imbalance in their brain activity: the areas involved in emotion processing are in a hyperactive state, while the cognitive control and emotional regulation areas show decreased activity. Now, a new app is aiming to balance those two areas of the brain.
It’s been estimated that nearly 16 million adults age 18+ have been affected by depression, and close to 10% suffer from mood disorders. Can you guess what the most common treatment method is for both of these things? You guessed it: medication. And the number of people being prescribed these medications is on the rise. The second most common method for treating depression and other mood disorders is cognitive based therapy. But there’s another method that’s gaining popularity: mindfulness.
I know I’ve talked about this so many times before, but let me say it again for those of you that are new to the blog or new to mindfulness: technology is taking over our minds.
Whether we realize it or not it’s happening. And a movement that goes by the name of Time Well Spent it looking that help change that! Fighting back against digital distraction. Asking technology companies to create app designs that “empower us and reduce pollution to our attention.”
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 most people begin practicing mindfulness during or after a stressful life-changing event, it doesn’t matter when you start. Mindfulness is something that anyone can benefit from in any stage of life. From children to elderly adults—they even make mindfulness tools for children, see some of them here. Even though there’s no “right” age to begin your journey into mindfulness, there are a few stages in life when people tend to turn toward it:
Even if you’re lucky enough to have a super laid back and relaxed work environment, I’m willing to bet that stress still gets to you at work once in awhile. One study found that 60% of employee absences could be traced back to stress, and that number has been on the rise.
While there are a variety of factors in the workplace that can lead to stress, most are just out of our control. So what can we do about? Most of us are not going to up and quit an otherwise perfectly good job. And even if you did, what’s to say that your next job won’t cause the same stress?
So many of us have trouble sleeping! Some struggle to fall asleep every night, while others only have occasional sleepless nights. Either way, at some point in time we’ve all experienced at least one night of constant tossing and turning, minds that just won’t stop running. We’ve all woken up exhausted because we just couldn’t get the good night’s sleep we needed!
So what do you do when you can’t sleep? Count sheep? Probably not. Many people will walk over to their medicine cabinet and grab that good ol’ bottle of sleeping pills. But there’s a better way to get the sleep you crave—a natural way. What is it?
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!
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.
In theory, mindfulness sounds like the perfect solution to helping children that suffer from ADHD. Mindfulness helps us become more aware, it helps us focus, control our thoughts, and manage our emotions—things that those with ADHD have trouble with.
Today, people are trying to get away from using medication to treat their problems and turning to natural solutions like mindfulness and meditation, from pain management to anxiety disorders. People are beginning to learn that expensive (and often addictive) medications aren’t always the best answer. And parents of children with ADHD and beginning to think the same thing. So is mindfulness their answer?
We all want to be more present, whether it’s for our kids, or significant other, or just ourselves, right? And we all want to be happier, no matter how happy or unhappy you are, we crave that feeling of happiness.
But why is so hard to just be happy? What makes it so difficult to live in the present moment?
The answer to those two questions will be different for everyone. It might be that you’re worried about the future, or you’re dwelling on something in the past. No matter what, we all have an opportunity to try to live happier and more present life—it just might take some effort.
You don’t have control over what others do, but you do have control over your own thoughts and emotions. Reassurance is great, but you don’t always need the approval of others for you to feel happy. Step outside of your own mind for a moment. Remind yourself to be present and give yourself a bit of encouragement! The only person that will always be there for you, is you.
Social media, tv, radio. Yes, it is important to know what’s going on in the world, but it’s also important to know what’s going on within yourself and in your life. Social media can be a great way to help you keep in touch with others, but too much if it can make you feel disconnected. Be mindful of the way you use it.
Take a break from the media, hang out with your friend (in the real world, not online!), read a book. Do something that will allow you to live in the here and now.
A great way to motivate yourself and get your priorities straight is by listing your goals. But, at the same time, it can be easy to focus too much on those goals. So what should you do, throw away your list or at least stash it away somewhere that you won’t be seeing it constantly.
By identifying your goals, then letting them go, they’re staying in the future, where they’re meant to be. This allows you to stay in the present and work toward those future goals naturally.
Remind yourself of everything you have to be thankful for each day—maybe even multiple times a day! Doing this 1 simple thing can work wonders for reducing anxiety and stress.
In theory, it’s not hard to be present and learn to be happier. But in practice, it takes time and effort to train our minds to live in the now.
When someone, like your doctor, tells you that you need to lose weight, start eating healthier, or working out more, do you feel upset? Or you consider what they have to say and attempt to take their advice to help better yourself? What if you’re told that if you don’t lose weight you risk developing diabetes or other health problem?
No matter which side of the aisle you’re on, if you’re like most people, you’re probably feeling angered or even outraged by the outcome of the latest election. Either you’re upset about who has been chosen to run your country, or all the people that are upset are angering you. Either way, no one is very happy. Not even Donald Trump has been able to “enjoy” his presidency win with so much negativity going around. So how can we find a little bit of calm and rationalization at a time when tension and emotions are so high? My answer: meditation.
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.
Items like our smartphones, which just 20 years ago were non-existent, now seem to be necessities in our lives. Children no longer see these items as a tool, but as a toy and it’s changing them–it’s changing all of us.
Stop what you’re doing stand up for a moment and just breathe… now pay attention to that breath. Follow it as it goes and your chest expands with each deep breath, feel the air flowing outward. Okay. Now how do you feel? If you’re like most people, you’re probably feeling more relaxed, more present, and more aware.
That was easy, right? But, as Dr. Danny Penman, author of The Art of Breathing, says… “The hardest bit is remembering [to breathe].” Once you remember to breathe (and actually bring awareness to your breath) when you needed it the most you’ll have the ability to calm yourself and think more clearly—the ability to live more mindfully.
People today know they need to watch their health, their eating healthier and working out, but what about mental health? While mindfulness and meditation have become more popular over the past few years (in large-part thanks to technology), it’s not yet widely practiced. Some companies, like Humana, are trying to help change that.
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?
We all have had those times when we’re feeling a little crunched for time, we have so much to do, but so little time… but what if someone told you that you could get more done in less time? That would be impossible right? Not according to Cal Newport’s idea of “deep work.”
The holidays can be some of the happiest times of the year for many people, but they can also be stressful and exhausting! Preparing the holiday dinner, prepping the house for guests, buying holiday gifts for the family and friends—sometimes it can be a bit overwhelming. But what if we could eliminate some of that stress by making our Thanksgiving gatherings and the holiday season a little more mindful?
In our fast-paced world, there’s one thing that’s starting to slow down: television. Have you ever dreamed of taking a long journey by train, but just couldn’t afford to take the time off of work for such an adventure? Or maybe you’d love to see the world by boat, but get a terrible sea sickness? Now, you can experience these things without leaving the comfort of your living room couch thanks to Slow TV.
Slow TV is newly popularized genre of television that’s gained popularity in Norway and has been brought to the United States with a little help from Netflix. Slow TV gets its name from the pace of the programming as well as the length; the longest broadcast on record is 136 hours (over 5.5 days), but most can last between 3-12 hours.
Distraction isn’t something new, throughout history humans have always been faced with distraction, but today it seems as though distraction has become a bigger issue. But why is that? A large part of it is due to technology, something that’s supposed to make our lives easier—and often times succeeds—also has the ability to make life harder by being such a huge distractor in our everyday lives.
When a notification pops up on your phone (a feature that’s supposed to be helpful) while you’re in the middle of an important task, or even in the middle of a family dinner, do you check it? If you’re like most people, then the answer is probably yes, even if for just a moment.
We all want to eat healthier, right? But sometimes it can be hard; cravings happen, we over eat—we aren’t always aware of what we’re putting in our bodies. How many times have you been craving sweets and mindlessly threw a candy bar in your cart while grocery shopping, or grabbed a handful of chips simply because you were bored and snacking gave you something to do?
The 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:
Receiving 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.
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 feeling 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.
Setting 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.
A good meeting can energize people, refocus a team, and strengthen interpersonal connections. A bad meeting can suck the energy out of a room and leave everyone feeling frustrated and exhausted. No wonder that corporate meetings are the bane of office workers and are an endless source of humor for comedians and sitcom writers.
The workaholics among us (I can count myself in that group too much of the time) often feel that taking a break is a sign of weakness, or at least will reduce our productivity. In reality, and perhaps counter intuitively, taking breaks can help you to rejuvenate and regain your focus, and thereby increase your overall effectiveness and productivity, whether the work you are doing is physical, mental, or a combination of both.
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.
Whether it’s because of genetics, experiences, or simply poor coping skills, most of us have a hard time controlling our negative thoughts—we’re more focused on the negatives in our lives than the positives. We previously discussed mindfully rewiring your brain to love yourself, but with a little more awareness we can also stop our thoughts from taking us down the path of self-doubt at all.