Two years ago, we highlighted the value of switching off and stepping away from our devices in the name of emotional wellness.
Inspired by the National Day of Unplugging movement, it served as a timely reminder that we’re not at the mercy of our modern technologies.
That we have the choice to disengage. To step away.
Secure in the awareness that we can plug back in at any time.
And yet, this year has taught us…
Unplugging isn’t always an option, is it?
At some point, we have to come back.
And when we do, we’d be wise to bring some of what we learned back with us.
In the words of mindfulness expert and author of Modern Mindfulness, Rohan Gunatillake:
If we continue to present mindfulness as being in conflict with technology, not only will we become irrelevant very quickly, we’ll also be pathologizing this thing which underpins so much of modern life.
Our modern ways are here to stay. We can choose whether or not to engage with them mindfully. But, ultimately, we must engage with them.
So, for those times when unplugging is simply not an option…
(which, let’s face it, is most of the time these days)
…we’re sharing 8 ways you can incorporate modern mindfulness into your daily life:
Modern mindfulness at home
The best way to capture moments is to pay attention. This is how we cultivate mindfulness. Mindfulness means being awake. It means knowing what you are doing.
Thich Nhat Hanh
- Wake with awareness. Do you rely on your phone or another device to wake you in the morning? See if you can capitalize on the chance to bring more mindfulness to the start of your day. Instead of immediately hitting snooze or heaving yourself out of bed, pause with a simple acknowledgement (e.g., “That’s the alarm. And a new day begins.“)
- Observe your app habits. When you pick up your phone in the morning, what’s your first move? Which app do you choose to open? Is it one you’re choosing on purpose, or merely the first one that catches your attention? Is it always the same, or do your habits change by the day (or time of day)?
- Scroll mindfully. Pull up your favorite social media platform. Scroll as you typically would, but this time challenge yourself to slow your pace. Take note of each image, headline, and username that appears in your feed. (It may help to name them quietly to yourself as you scroll.) How does each piece of content make you feel as it appears? Do you notice any patterns in what you observe? Anything about your reactions that surprise you?
- Catch the buzz. As you move through your home, try to bring some awareness to the modern elements around you. See how many screens and illuminated displays you can see in your kitchen, living room, bedroom, etc. Listen for the buzzing, whirring, chiming, and other sounds they make as they’re running in the background.
- Switch gears. Even something as seemingly passive as watching TV can become an opportunity to practice mindfulness. Try this activity (adapted from Modern Mindfulness):As you sit watching video on your TV or other device, let yourself become fully immersed in the content you’re watching. Then, consciously pull yourself back out of what you’re watching and notice your immediate surroundings (e.g., the room you’re in, where you’re sitting, the shape and size of the screen you’re watching, the temperature in the room, and so on). Then, shift back into the video and allow yourself to become re-immersed in what you’re watching. See how many times you can shift back and forth between the two.
Modern mindfulness at work
May my day be fruitful and productive. May what I do help others. And when it gets hard, because it will, may I remember that it is not always going to be like that.
- Capitalize on the commute. Maybe you drive, bike, or walk alone to work each day. Or perhaps you carpool or use public transportation. Or maybe your “commute” is no more than a walk down the hall. However you get to work, don’t miss the chance to bring some awareness to this part of your day. If you prefer traveling in silence, try spending your transition into work observing the scenery as you pass; at the end of your workday, take note of your energy level, any tension in your body, and any strong emotions left over from the day. If you prefer listening to music, radio, or a podcast, try to engage in active listening. Really tune in to what you’re hearing. And whenever your mind starts to wander, pause what you’re listening to and gently bring your awareness back to the present moment. Then, resume listening.
- Make a connection. It’s easy to become overwhelmed by the volume of messages in your voicemail or email inbox. Left unchecked, over time that feeling can breed resentment. The next time you pull up a new message, pause to visualize the person who sent it. Take a deep breath and focus on that person’s humanity. Then, read or listen to what they have to say, and notice the difference in how you feel.
- Email with awareness. Getting ready to whip off a quick email? Take a moment to ask yourself: What is my intention in sending this? What do I hope to communicate? What do I want the recipient to know, think, or feel after reading my email?
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Ready to learn more about how modern mindfulness can help improve your emotional wellness?