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.
Robert Plotkin recently interviewed Pete on the Technology for Mindfulness podcast to learn how he became the Digital Detangler and what individuals can do to take control of their own technology use.
Continue reading How to Manage Your Digital Environment – 6 Practical Ideas from Pete Dunlap
Dr. Sherry Walling offers a unique perspective on entrepreneur burnout.
As both an accomplished clinical psychologist and the spouse of a serial tech entrepreneur, she’s combined insights from both roles and developed a much-needed resource called ZenFounder.
On a recent Technology for Mindfulness podcast, our founder Robert Plotkin interviewed Dr. Walling to learn more about her work.
They chatted about entrepreneur stress, how it’s made worse by the frenetic pace of technology, and her recommendations for founders (and their partners). Continue reading Thriving as an Entrepreneur in the Digital Age – 5 Lessons from Dr. Sherry Walling
Continue reading 10 Best Mindfulness Meditation Apps to Manage the Craziness of Daily Life
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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 scheduleÂ 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.
Here’s another resource that could help: Shutdown Rituals: Leave the Work Stress at Work.
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.Â
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.
Continue reading How to Mindfully Use Your GPS
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.”
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 thanÂ not at all to avoid distraction.
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.
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.
Continue reading Positive, Negative and Neutral Posting on Social Media
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.Â
Do you ever feel like that with your smartphone? Are you the receiver and is your smartphone the server? Continue reading Responding, Not Reacting to Your Smartphone
Since I write and teach about using technology mindfully, many people assume that I’m somehow naturally gifted at that practice. Â 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
This article is about what to do when none of the suggestions seem to work.
Continue reading Practice “Not Even One”
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 itâ€™s just sitting in your pocket not doing anything? When your phone beeps, vibrates, or buzzes, do you ask yourself, â€œWhy is my phone doing this to me?!?â€Continue reading How to Manage the Pull of Your Smartphone
Here are some more ways to apply mindfulness to tackling the tasks on your to-do list.Continue reading Tips for Mindful Task Management: Part 2
This exercise consists of revising your daily or weekly tasks in light of your long-term goals or intentions.
Continue reading Updating Tasks in Light of Your Intentions
Whether youâ€™re a writer, an artist, or simply trying to figure out a creative solution to a difficult problem, thereâ€™s one thing standing in your way. One thing that would have never been a problem 15 years ago! Just one little thing thatâ€™s blocking your way to thinking more creatively. What is it? Technology, of course.
Like weâ€™ve discussed before, boredom has its benefits. But with technology around, weâ€™re never truly bored or alone!
Continue reading Technology May Be the Reason Youâ€™ve Lost That Creative Spark
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 thereâ€™s another way to help you control your anxietyâ€¦ no medication, no stigma, and you can do it from your phone! What is it?
Continue reading Learn to Unwind Your Anxiety With 10 Minutes Per Day
Today, people use their phones for a variety of different tasks and weâ€™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, itâ€™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 youâ€™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
Weâ€™ve seen hilarious videos and stories of the problems smartphone distraction can causeâ€”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 weâ€™re missing these blatantly obvious obstacles in front of us?
Continue reading Put Down Your Smartphone and Allow Yourself to â€œSpace Outâ€
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 â€œrotting the brain,â€ and now smartphones. What will come next? Who knows?! And it seems like with each new technology the effect is differentâ€¦ and often worse.
Take Generation Z for example, the generation after Millennials. The generation that grew up with iPads and smartphonesâ€”theyâ€™ve never known life without being constantly connected! And thatâ€™s created a HUGE leap in characteristic changes from their parents and grandparents. Theyâ€™ve become the generation thatâ€™s not interested in independence; they already have so much independence online, and thatâ€™s become good enough for them. But thereâ€™s one other change todayâ€™s teens are suffering from: depression.
Continue reading Teen Depression is on the Rise: Are Smartphones to Blame?
Weâ€™ve talked before about using mindfulness at a personal level in the workplace to reduce stress. But you may have also heard the term â€œmindful company.â€ So what does it really mean to be a â€œmindful companyâ€? 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 Whatâ€™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. Itâ€™s great that youâ€™re watching out for phishing and got strong, unique passwords on all your accounts, but whatâ€™s even more helpful to your cyber securityâ€”and your peace of mindâ€”is cleaning things up!
We all know that each generation has different experiences, they grow up in a different time, so itâ€™s impossible not to! But is the latest generation, generation Z, missing out? Has their generation been destroyed by technology? Weâ€™ve all see the articles online saying things like â€œMillennials are killing fabric softenerâ€ or â€œMillennials are running the wine industry,â€ 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. Itâ€™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!
Time management author, public speaker, coach & trainer Dave Crenshaw has appeared in Time magazine, USA Today, FastCompany, the BBC News, & his courses on LinkedIn Learning have received millions of views. Crenshaw’s three books, including â€œThe Myth of Multitaskingâ€ and his newest, â€œThe Power of Having Fun: How Meaningful Breaks Help You Get More Doneâ€, are in stores now.
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 olâ€™ conversation to find a date!
At MNDFL, a meditation studio in New York City, something’s starting to happenâ€¦ people have started finding relationships offline, relationships based on common interests, not just physical appearance.
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.
Last week we talked about how and why we need to recover from tasks in our daily life and we covered,Â recovering from work and technology. I challenged you to take on both of these, did you try it? How did it go? Did you notice a difference in your stress or sleep?
Today weâ€™re moving on to the other 4 areas of our lives that we need to learn to recover from: people, fitness, food, & being awake.
Neil Seligman is the Founder ofÂ The Conscious Professional, the Author of 100 Mindfulness Meditations and one of the UKâ€™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 bringsÂ skillsÂ 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.
How much time do you spend on your phone each day? I bet itâ€™s probably more than youâ€™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 â…“ of your time awake is spent staring at a phone screen. If you ask me, thatâ€™s a lot of time wasted. And nearly 20% of that time is being spent on Facebookâ€”FOMO, anyone?
Our smartphones are constantly dinging and ringing, alerting us of notifications all day long. And donâ€™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 doesnâ€™t have to feel that wayâ€¦ 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 thereâ€™s something called â€œdream yogaâ€ 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 itâ€™s becoming more mainstreamâ€”itâ€™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, thereâ€™s no doubt that itâ€™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 youâ€™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.
Iâ€™ve talked before about how technology is taking over, about how many times weâ€™re â€œaccidentallyâ€ sucked into our phones. Weâ€™re checking our social media accounts, multiple times a day for no other reason that the fear of missing out (FOMO).
Itâ€™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 thereâ€™s another method thatâ€™s gaining popularity: mindfulness.
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 weâ€™re all aiming for gender equality, itâ€™s no secret that women still have it rougher than men, and technology can help change that!
I know Iâ€™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 itâ€™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 â€œempower us and reduce pollution to our attention.â€
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.
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.
Join author Sherry Turkle, the Abby Rockefeller MauzÃ© Professor of the Social Studies of Science and Technology in the Program in Science, Technology, and Society at MIT, and the founder (2001) and current director of the MIT Initiative on Technology and Self on April 19th to learn more about the effect of technology on solitude.Â
This event is organized by MIT Radius, where Technology for Mindfulness’s own Robert Plotkin isÂ a member of the Steering Committee.
More about this week’s event here.
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 technologyâ€”itâ€™s not going anywhere! So why not embrace it and use in a way that will help us live a better life?
Weâ€™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!
Youâ€™re about to start cooking dinner when you have a question about the recipeâ€¦ 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 appsâ€¦ By the time youâ€™ve finished checking everything out youâ€™ve completely forgotten why you originally grabbed your phone in the first place.
Does that sound like something thatâ€™s happened to you? Itâ€™s probably happened to most of us!
Move over Headspace, thereâ€™s a new player in the mindfulness app game and it goes by the name of Calmâ€”and theyâ€™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, itâ€™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.
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 thatâ€”they design their websites or apps to work in this way. Sometimes they do it unknowingly, but more often than not itâ€™s something thatâ€™s purposely built into the design.
If weâ€™re not mindful about how weâ€™re using many of the technologies that are so prevalent in our lives, then it can be easy to let it control us.
Virtual realityâ€¦ 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 weâ€™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 isnâ€™t the reality of today any longer. So what does this shift to more screen time mean for young developing minds?
We all want to eat healthier, right? But sometimes it can be hard; cravings Â happen, we over eatâ€”we arenâ€™t always aware of what weâ€™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?
Although we’d all like to have such a high degree of self-control that we don’t need any external aids to keep ourselves focused and present when using technology, in practice we can all use a little help.Â There are a variety of apps you can use to resist technological temptation by making it impossible (or at least very difficult) to succumb to that temptation.Â Some good examples are: