Sunday, March 9, 2014

Morning Pages, Traffic and Presence

Writing a blog is so different from writing morning pages. Morning pages were created by Julia Cameron in her famous book, The Artist's Way where one writes three pages, ideally handwritten, at the beginning of the day. It can be a type of brain dump onto the page, to eliminate the extraneous ideas in your head before finding some depth and stillness within. It is at that point in the writing when the inner wisdom may appear, coming forth as the pen goes over the page. In recent years, typing these morning pages has become common as well, and I actually use the website, 750 Words, to record my pages now. I've been writing Morning Pages for over 10 years, so the switch to a focused blog entry has been interesting, as well as quite difficult, as I'm not used to writing for an audience except myself or a good friend who knows the subtleties of my thought patterns and life. It is more difficult to explain to the anonymous person, but good practice as well.

And how does this tie into Technology and Mindfulness, Mindful Technology, or Musings on Technology Addiction, or at least overuse? It doesn't, not really, and thus the challenges of the meandering mind and ideas of Susan, as she reads, questions, researches, and discusses the myriad of ideas on technology, its impact on the human brain, more specifically the teenage brain, and the ways technology, more specifically digital devices seem to be controlling some people.

In this experiment of unplugging more and more, I've noticed some things, and creating the witness mentality is one of the first ways to be more mindful of one's technology use. I put the phone in the glove compartment when I drive, but when I was in bumper to bumper traffic yesterday, I became restless and edgy at the traffic. I know traffic is an opportunity for mindfulness, so I breathed in, knowing that I was breathing in, and I breathed out, knowing that I was breathing out. But I was still annoyed and restless because there was another way I could have gone in order to avoid the traffic, had my iPhone been within reach. There is the GPS app with a way to check the traffic. As I sat there, restless, trying to remain in the present moment, I chose to open the glove compartment and take out my phone to check the traffic. This was a positive use of technology since I noticed that I could take the next exit, and loop around onto a free of traffic route. I put the phone back in the glove compartment, and happily relaxed as I knew I would be out of the traffic by the next exit.

But, in reflecting what did I gain? Eckert Tolle, had he been speaking to me from my CD player, would have reminded me that all we need to do is say yes to the present moment. We don't need to resist or attach to it, just be in it. Could I have just been in the traffic until I returned home. I was meeting a friend, but the timing was fluid. Is this need to be punctual, time efficient, hurried serving us? Is it serving me? Did I need that adrenaline rush or hit of dopamine to break my commitment to leaving my phone in the glove compartment, to read the traffic, to save ten or twenty minutes in the car, when my primary, or actually singular, purpose is to be in the present moment. And in those moments observe without judgment my relationship to my digital device. A continual practice that I will begin again today as I intend presence once again.

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