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Posts Tagged ‘mindfulness’

 

Living Mindfully or Mindlessly?

Posted on: November 17th, 2019 by Hayim Herring No Comments

 

Mindfulness is:

“The awareness that arises from paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment and non-judgmentally.” –Jon Kabat-Zinn

 

“The practice of maintaining a nonjudgmental state of heightened or complete awareness of one’s thoughts, emotions, or experiences on a moment-to-moment basis.” Merriam-Webster Dictionary.

 

One of the ways that I identify if a trend has gone mainstream is to search the Harvard Business Review (HBR is my “go to” magazine, but any respectable business periodical or blog will do). Why? If you can monetize an idea, there’s a reasonable chance that it’s mainstream. Using that simple criterion, my search for “mindfulness” on HBR yielded 285 results. And here’s more proof: “Self-care apps topped Apple’s 2018 trends list, as consumers spent $32 million on mindfulness apps like Calm, Headspace and 10% Happier.”  Individuals can enroll in university-level mindfulness classes or download an app, and a generation of kids in many public schools, after-school programs, and camps, are learning to be mindful. Practicing mindfulness is a booming, growing industry!

 

What is at the heart of this surge in mindful living? Technology enables us to do more and more by thinking less and less. For example, every time that you click on Amazon’s “suggestion” for your next book based on your browsing history, you diminish your ability to choose for yourself. When you finish an episode of your favorite show on Netflix and click on “next episode in 5 seconds (guilty as charged!),” you decrease awareness of choosing other options for spending your precious time. Mindfulness enthusiasts recognize that technology creates the illusion of choosing mindfully when, in reality, algorithms have contributed to making us choose mindlessly. The price that we pay for 24/7 connectivity is a disconnection from self-aware choices, and that’s a steep cost.

 

Committing to reducing our use of technology is the first step toward regaining greater self-awareness. For example, try turning off your smartphone (and watch) at mealtime or for 30 minutes each morning and afternoon. Once you become accustomed to being offline, do you enjoy dinner more with a 30-minute technology time out? Are you more productive during your 30-minute block of time that you’re offline then when you’re connected?

 

I’ve put these practices into place and, to gain the full benefit of my choice, I’ve also adjusted my attitude. When I power down for a block of time, I no longer think of what I’m losing, but what I’m gaining by being offline. For me, those benefits include a richer conversation with a family member or friend, higher concentration on a writing or consulting project, and spiritually reconnecting with myself. To be more mindful when I’m online, I browse other categories of literature than Amazon’s “suggested titles.” By doing so, I expand my curiosity and openness to new ideas and experiences. I’m also working on strategies that keep me from easy distractions like checking the news, unsubscribing to irrelevant listservs, and using my “block caller” function to minimize annoying marketers.

My colleague, Rabbi Jeffrey Schein, wrote in his recently published book, Text Me: Ancient Jewish Wisdom Meets Contemporary Technology (page 14), “Awash as we are in digital technologies, we…desperately need all the fences (that is, perspectives)…we can find as we try to understand the many ways that technology has reshaped our human and Jewish identities.” Mindfulness, in its secular and religious forms, provide that missing perspective. As the holidays approach and the year 2020 is on the near horizon, I’m committing to becoming more mindful beginning today. I’ve just started another 10-day mindfulness meditation course on my favorite app, InsightTimer! I know that I’ll have a “meeting of the minds” with many people who are also reclaiming mindful living.

 

 

A Sabbath from Technology: Turn Off and Tune In!

Posted on: May 4th, 2010 by Hayim Herring 4 Comments
I’m starting my post with a thank you to one of the most valuable blogs on social media’s potential for societal good: Beth’s Blog: How Non-Profit Organizations Can Use Social Media to Power Social Networks for Change.
Beth writes at the end of her most recent post,

We’re all struggling with balance of technology and a purposeful life.  We need to reflect inward and examine our motivations, patterns, and use of technology – understanding when we’re mindful and not.

Then we need to integrate ways of finding the right balance.  That balance is not a simple on and off switch – it is understanding how to integrate focused and receptive attentions into our online and offline lives.

In her post, Beth recommends a few tips about how to get into the habit of disconnecting from our electronic tethers: smart phones, laptops, Kindles, iPads—and whatever will be next. But the insight that caught my attention was that disconnecting is only a part of the problem. The other part is integration—given that technology is becoming increasingly embedded in our lives (and now, our bodies,) how do we work with it, so that it doesn’t work against us? Futurists and science fiction writers have a long history of creating scenarios about computers or robots taking on human characteristics. I’m more concerned lately about human beings becoming too robotic and losing our essential humanity.
Religious traditions which have a Sabbath offer much wisdom on this subject. Here’s a slice of this wisdom from the Jewish tradition, one that I know reasonably well. While the book of Genesis gives work a bad reputation (Adam has to work the garden after he and Eve violate God’s rule against eating of the forbidden fruit), the book of Exodus (20:8) views both rest and work as positive commandments.
A life of all work is prohibited because it’s destructive. But a life of no work isn’t healthy either from a Jewish perspective, which views humanity as partners with God in working to sustain and enhance the created world. It’s all about balance. And, ironically, by scheduling a day with no creative work, we return to life reinvigorated and attuned to our surroundings and the people who matter to us.
For me, the solution to this problem of electronic enslavement is turning off in order to tune in. Call it a Sabbath from Technology. Integrating technology in my life means not exhibiting a Pavlovian response to the chime of an email or instant message and freeing myself from the pressure to take every call when it comes in—regardless of what I’m in the middle of.  And increasingly, I’m feeling a need to cultivate mindfulness so that multi-tasking doesn’t take a permanent toll on my ability to concentrate. I recognize that I’m the only one who can take this kind of control of technology in my own life.
So—how do you feel about this age-old problem of enslavement taking a new digital guise? Is it over-exaggerated? Or, is it something that you feel but don’t talk about too much anymore? Do you have other suggestions about navigating these issues? Please comment!
Thank you,
Rabbi Hayim Herring

I’m starting my post with a thank you to one of the most valuable blogs on social media’s potential for societal good, Beth Kanter’s: Beth’s Blog: How Non-Profit Organizations Can Use Social Media to Power Social Networks for Change.

Beth writes at the end of her most recent post,

We’re all struggling with balance of technology and a purposeful life.  We need to reflect inward and examine our motivations, patterns, and use of technology – understanding when we’re mindful and not.  Then we need to integrate ways of finding the right balance.  That balance is not a simple on and off switch – it is understanding how to integrate focused and receptive attentions into our online and offline lives.

In her post, Beth recommends a few tips about how to get into the habit of disconnecting from our electronic tethers: smart phones, laptops, Kindles, iPads—and whatever will be next. But the insight that caught my attention was that disconnecting is only a part of the problem. The other part is integration—given that technology is becoming increasingly embedded in our lives (and now, our bodies,) how do we work with it, so that it doesn’t work against us? Futurists and science fiction writers have a long history of creating scenarios about computers or robots taking on human characteristics. I’m more concerned lately about human beings becoming too robotic and losing our essential humanity.

Religious traditions which have a Sabbath offer much wisdom on this subject. Here’s a slice of this wisdom from the Jewish tradition, one that I know reasonably well. While the book of Genesis gives work a bad reputation (Adam has to work the garden after he and Eve violate God’s rule against eating of the forbidden fruit,) the book of Exodus (20:8) views both rest and work as positive commandments.

A life of all work is prohibited because it’s destructive. But a life of no work isn’t healthy either from a Jewish perspective, which views humanity as partners with God in working to sustain and enhance the created world. It’s all about balance. And, ironically, by scheduling a day with no creative work, we return to life reinvigorated and attuned to our surroundings and the people who matter to us.

For me, the solution to this problem of electronic enslavement is turning off in order to tune in. Call it a Sabbath from Technology. Integrating technology in my life means not exhibiting a Pavlovian response to the chime of an email or instant message and freeing myself from the pressure to take every call when it comes in – regardless of what I’m in the middle of.  And increasingly, I’m feeling a need to cultivate mindfulness so that multi-tasking doesn’t take a permanent toll on my ability to concentrate. I recognize that I’m the only one who can take this kind of control of technology in my own life.

So – how do you feel about this age-old problem of enslavement taking a new digital guise? Is it over-exaggerated? Or, is it something that you feel but don’t talk about too much anymore? Do you have other suggestions about navigating these issues? Please comment!

Thank you,

Rabbi Hayim Herring


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