Choosing your reactions just takes a little mindfulness.
One aspect of my life has changed somewhat dramatically since meditating for the past year, and it surprised me. In being present with my thoughts and my emotions, I’m beginning to naturally be present with my activities. It’s something Andy has talked about, and it’s a welcome change, to be sure. I’ve particularly noticed a shift when I’m on the internet.
There’s a side of me that used to kind of “turn on” when I went online, a side that craved more information, more images, more distraction. I would find myself in the oddest of places as a result. For instance, one minute I’d be searching the internet for “growing tomatoes in San Francisco,” and two hours later, there I would be, looking dumbly at pictures of tumors with hair and teeth. (These really exist). If you were to look at my computer screen, I (like most people) would have multiple tabs open, my email icon jumping with new mail at the bottom of my screen, Facebook and Twitter “notifying” me with each new ‘like’ or comment. I could feel a part of myself jump every time something blinked or changed. I began to feel somewhat enslaved by it once I became aware of how I felt.
More and more, I thought, “How did I get here?” It felt very similar to the feeling of being depressed and then realizing that, for the past few hours, I had ridden a particularly disturbing train of thought. So I decided to bring my awareness to my time online, and realized that I “got here” because I chose to come. I chose to open all those tabs, to click on that picture on the side of the screen – and that one, and yes, even that one.
Now, I have a new routine that feels spacious, intentional, and productive: I do one thing at a time. In the morning, I check my email once, clearing out the spam and replying to clients and friends as needed. Then, I quit my mail program entirely so I don’t see new mail as it comes in. I go onto my social media accounts and check in, and then I quit out of those. I read the news quickly to make sure I haven’t missed anything major (haven’t so far, it’s really all the same!), and quit out of that. I check my mail again mid-day and then at the end. It’s more than enough.
Offline, I do the same thing. I have my coffee and sit with my journal. I walk and feel my feet hit the pavement and the sun on my face. I go to work and focus all my attention on the project at hand. And I allow thoughts to come and go, seeing them for what they are and being fully present when good ideas come my way.
Here’s the kicker: I’ve been less busy, and more productive. And I’ve had more free time. It’s like the best of all 3 worlds. It sound so simple, but it’s WONDERFUL. My habits online feel very much like a reflection of my internal habits as well, and it’s been fascinating to watch myself, as in meditation. Thank you guys at Headspace, yet again.
The author of this post is an editorial contributor to Headspace. These are their views, experiences and results and theirs alone. This contributor was not paid for their writing.