Are we deleting our lives...

Dr. Linda Friedland Executive Health

The alarm jolts me out of a deep sleep. I look over at my blackberry. Its 6am and I quickly scroll through any text messages, bbm’s and emails that may have come through during the night from other time zones. I then feel compelled to delete the junk mail. If nothing urgent, I make a cup of tea and before the morning school run, I quickly check my ipad for the  longer emails. I once again delete anything unimportant. My twitter and facebook notifications cannot be ignored so I take a quick peek at them too.  

Meanwhile I switch on my pc so that it’s all ready for me when I return from my exercise. I remind myself to schedule in a moment of mindfulness or a quick meditation sometime later, after I have prepared a talk, written a chapter or gone to a meeting. All the while of course checking up on important incoming emails or messages that need to be answered and the unimportant, deleted.  

I have also recently entered the social media space which is really exciting with my work. I have learned about new technologies and I have connected with old clients. I am tweeting, retweeting, following, and am being followed. I get direct access immediately and in real time to what Ariana Huffington is saying. I read countless blogs to understand trending patterns.  It is exciting and is captivating. But it keeps one on a constant high alert. Consider this: 200 billion emails and 75 million blog posts occur daily, half a million new books are published online each year and 8 billion web pages every minute. We are all plugged in.

The only way to cope with all this is to constantly delete. Our brain is constantly processing information and as we filter what we think is most important, we just have to keep deleting. Are we possibly deleting our lives in the process? Technology has done wonders to benefit our everyday lives. But there are also some serious downsides to technology. The more we begin to rely on it, the more it takes over our lives. “I think this 24/7 layer of connectedness we’ve added has really ramped up the feeling that life is going out of control,” said William Powers, author of “Hamlet’s Blackberry,” a cautionary tale about the digital din of our own making. We’re not built to handle that onslaught of information. 

It takes enormous discipline (and it often falls by the wayside) but I try squeeze in my 10 to 20 minutes of meditation at least once a day. I have wondered recently why the concept of mindfulness and meditation has very recently become so popular in many mainstream corporate environments. It may be that technology seems to have overwhelmed our daily lives to the point of constant distraction. Many of us can no longer focus on a single task or face-to-face conversation without wanting to reach out for our smart phone or retreat back to the virtual world of our ipad or pc.

A digital detox diet is being recommended by many experts. Check your e-mail once a day- not once an hour, re-connect with people in person, not via the computer and limit your text messages to a certain number each day. It even has a name now: tech- detox. The value of practicing regular mindfulness or meditation is that instead of deleting your life, you begin to do quite the opposite. You insert moments of pure clarity, peace and presence. 

I am of course not planning on stopping my blogging,  tweeting and  facebook advice, but I will certainly advise you how best to switch off, chill out and meditate in between. 

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