Friday, April 11, 2014

The Present Moment?

What is it about uncomfortable feelings that cause us to run away from them and grab something else. A cookie or Facebook. Another potato chip out of the bag or the iPhone, searching for some type of notification. Is it the dopamine hit or the fact that technology has become a panacea for boredom, sadness, or frustration. 

One of the benefits of mindfulness is that it helps us stay with our present experience, no matter what it is, and be with it. More and more people tend to "run away" from these feelings or experiences with some type of distraction. When the tendency to escape becomes extreme, it can be said to be an addiction. Food, alcohol, shopping, television are all options for the person who wants to leave the present moment, consciously, but more often than not unconsciously. One of the benefits of a formal meditation "practice" is we practice being with these experiences when they arise, and because we are practicing meditation, we cannot run away from them with another activity. We can follow thoughts out of the present moment, but the meditation practice is to come back to the breath when we notice we are not in the present moment.

How does this apply to technology? One of the ways we move away from the present moment is to unconsciously check our phone, find ourselves on Facebook, check email frequently or open the Candy Crush app. I speak from personal experience, but I also know that this is a common practice for teenagers who are often distracted from schoolwork, walking and talking with the friends they are with, and lying in bed texting when ideally they would be sleeping. Social media and digital devices have become a new addiction, a method for leaving the present moment.

So the question becomes... What do we do?

1 comment:

  1. Susan interesting post and the zombie apocalypse photo is poignant.

    My joke answer to your question of what to do is say "create a mindfulness app."

    I am personally susceptible to eBay. First, there's the allure of the bargain and the fun of searching for the great buy. Then there's the competition of the auction. This creates an urgency to check in and the thrill of playing a game with winners and losers. The system provides plenty of email reminders to keep you informed at every step on the way. There's the rush from finding the package that has arrived in the mail and opening it and lastly the fun of telling everyone about your great find. Sometimes its hard to tell when the practical shopper becomes the compulsive shopper.

    I do think your suggestion in an earlier post of having screen free times as a discipline or practice makes a lot of sense and I plan to be intentional about setting up some screen free times. I actually did this today, leaving my phone inside while I was outside for an hour working on a project. However when I came in I immediately checked my phone and spent a bunch of time catching up.

    Much to ponder.