Rainn Wilson is the goofy guy that you may or may not know in the hit series The Office. In a recent interview with him he said something enlightening, “We’re so focused on the externals, looking outwards all the time and this is the trap of technology.” This is without a doubt true and for our developing kids and teens there is less and less time spent in self-reflection. We’re still infants in this technology age and if we’re aware enough, we can learn how to have the best relationship with it. One article recently came out with some suggestions and here are a few more key ones.
Here are a 3 mindful ways for Adults and Teens to get started.
- With so much stimuli demanding our attention, formal Apple and Microsoft Executive Linda Stone calls “continuous partial attention” the main state of our brains nowadays. That’s why the first thing we want to do is cultivate ways for “continuous anchoring attention” to bring us back to the present moment, to this life. This is important for adults and teens. This is one of the reasons Stefanie Goldstein, PhD and I created Mindfulness for Teens – CALM (Connecting Adolescents to Learning Mindfulness) that is starting in LA on Thursday, November 24th from 4-5:30pm.One way of doing that is just taking some time during the day to take a few deep breaths. You can even breathe counting up to 10 and back down to 1.
You might even consider just using this 3-minute guided video from The Now Effect to train this grounded attention.
- Experiment with Your Phone – Another very interesting and worthwhile experiment is to get curious about your relationship to your phone. What’s it like to leave it at times? What happens in your body when a message comes in? What’s it like to set a 10 second rule before you check a message when it comes in just to be aware of the potential pull that’s been developed and break your enslavement? I like the rule that when you’re with a group of friends at lunch everyone stacks their phone on each other and the first one to grab their phone pays for the bill :).
- Experiment with “No Texting” While Driving (at all) – Can you make a no texting or checking your phone while driving rule for a day and see what happens? Can you do it? If not, is it worth seeing why that’s outside of your control? Does your mind come up with reasons not to do that? “I can manage it; I only check it at lights.” This may be true, but is also often a slippery slope as it gets pulled out as you’re slowing down, or there’s last minute checking as after the light turns green. This is a particularly important experiment when teens are just learning to drive.
These are all experiments that you can engage with an eye of curiosity and learning. You don’t have to commit for long periods to any of them (although the driving one is a good one to commit to for everyone’s sake). Do it more just to see what you notice, to be aware what it’s like to be human in this technology age.
Share these ideas with your friends and colleagues, do them together and check-in with what you noticed.
As always, please share your thoughts, stories and questions below. Your interaction creates a living wisdom for us all to benefit from.
Girl with cell phone photo available from Shutterstock