August 25, 2010

More on mindfulness and technology

More from the New York Times on how the overuse of technology can be counterproductive:

The technology makes the tiniest windows of time entertaining, and potentially productive. But scientists point to an unanticipated side effect: when people keep their brains busy with digital input, they are forfeiting downtime that could allow them to better learn and remember information, or come up with new ideas.

Read the rest of “Digital Devices Deprive Brain of Needed Downtime.”

In related news, the second Wisdom 2.0 Conference has been announced.

From their website:

There is little question that most of us will live "connected" to technology ... the more pertinent question is: Amidst this life, will we live increasingly distracted and hurried, disconnected from a sense of purpose -- or can we live with mindfulness and wisdom, and engage the great technologies of our age in ways that benefit us, our society, and world?

As somebody who helps work on a Buddhist website, I understand full well the difficulty of finding the right balance between technology and a mindful way of living. I get lost looking through Buddhist Twitter accounts, navigate the web in a dreamlike state for Buddhist news, and read multiple articles simultaneously about the value of one-pointedness and focus. I see the irony in this.

It's a question that I enjoy working out. I'd like to spend some more time fleshing out rules that I would like to follow re: mindful technology use, but I've got a million other things to do. Besides, maybe if I go tweet the link to this blog post and put it on Facebook then you all can work out the details for me.

What methods do you employ in your own effort to use technology with awareness?

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Sam Mowe's picture

Joe,

Thank you for your thoughtful comment. It's good to be reminded of the ways that technology enhances one's modern life, instead of only focusing on the drawbacks. We just have to make sure that we're using technology and not the other way around!

Maria,

I appreciate you sharing your thoughts. May you have a present and productive day today.

Sam

Maria G's picture

From a beginner meditator:
I think there have probably always been distractions. Admittedly they are more pervasive than ever before. But the trick I thought was to remember to breathe and remember to be present as much as possible, in the middle of whatever. Whether it is work, or cooking, or tweeting, or playing, or watching TV?? I am old enough to remember the way people first met TV and video games, the scare stories were identical ... Of course there will be trouble caused, but if not by this, then surely by something else? By the next new thing?
The discipline of remembering to be present, to breathe, and to connect with what is happening remains the same, whatever.
(My 2 cents' worth)

Technology By Day » Tricycle » More on mindfulness and techn's picture

[...] more here: Tricycle » More on mindfulness and technology Tags: brains, brains-busy, forfeiting-downtime, makes-the-tiniest, potentially-productive, [...]

Joe M's picture

Interestingly, I happened across this after a WHOLE DAY away from my "smart phone" that fell victim to a lapse in mindfulness when I jumped in the pool with it still sitting in my bathing suit pocket. I like to get out in the woods and unplug as I think most people do. However, walking around my otherwise normal daily routine untethered from this technology that I've integrated into my life, I got a chance to see how it enhances and how it detracts from my day.

My major takeaway was that the time not spent engrossed in the daily tasks of necessity for the householder that would otherwise go unfilled are often spent connecting with friends and family or with other social communities (like Tricycle). Without the technology, I would likely feel as though I was sacrificing those relationships for the sake of paying my gas bill. With a little help from my handy handi, I can send out the quick "hello" message or read a fast update that keeps me informed. It's just a little bit of effort that yields major dividends.

Ultimately, I have found in any situation, all the information in the world is useless unless you are capable of digesting it. The human brain is extremely malleable and many people can adapt to the multiple and simultaneous sources of information that we all now have available to us. Whether or not this can actually support mindfulness depends on our ability to decide when to stop receiving information and when to start processing it.