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Mindfulness vs Digital Overload

14th Jul 2015

The ‘always on’ culture has started to feel a bit jaded for many and the backlash may well be on its way. With more and more institutions, including schools and businesses, putting mindfulness on the agenda, are we going to impose a bit of techno downtime on ourselves and take a break?

It sometimes feels like we’re reaching a digital saturation point especially when the world of the ‘internet of things’ enters into the mix. The Guardian describes it as ‘a new, encompassing, connected world’ where ‘fridges, washing machines and watches are serving us recipes and advice’. It all sounds pretty futuristic and utopian on one level but the reality is that it’s here right now and businesses, in particular, are looking for ways in which to manage it and to capitalise on its existence.

Our current culture is driven by a need for connectivity at all times and this, in itself, is a key driver of anxiety. Peer group pressure and the working environment have pushed us to this point. Who doesn’t check their mobile phones one last time before going to bed? 

Apart from when we’re asleep, we are never ‘off.’ There are very few places now where you can’t take a mobile device and use it on silent mode. Trains may have silent carriages and cinemas may urge us to switch them off, but we can still text and surf the net in these environments. We can now use them on planes and, when we look at our kids, it’s pretty plain to see – never has mobile addiction been so apparent.

So what’s the antidote?

There needs to be time and space for creativity and thinking in order to fulfil the potential of each individual and that’s where mindfulness comes in. 

Mindfulness is very much the ‘in’ thing at the moment with everyone from Gwyneth Paltrow to Oprah Winfrey declaring an interest. It’s meditation without the religion, focusing purely on the self and putting yourself in tune with the moment rather than dwelling on the past or worrying about the future. It’s focus on the moment steadies and soothes the brain and is said to refreshen the most tired and depleted of us.

The benefits, for those working or studying, are that it allows clarity and provides a point from which you can return to your work or studies recharged. And, apart from downloading an app if you want some direction or looking it up on Google, it doesn’t involve any technology !

A break is as good as a rest and the best way to enhance productivity is to disconnect every now and again. Maybe it’s time to take on board that the digital world won’t stop spinning without us.