Carefully Crafted on February 26

Mindfulness: The Cure for Shiny-Object Syndrome?

By now, it’s generally accepted that technology is changing our attention spans. It’s promotes multi-tasking and we’re constantly connected — only a swipe and tap of a screen away from a world of information and interactions.

Do you find it hard to concentrate? Perhaps you’re supposed to be working on a writing project, but you hop over to Twitter or Facebook and suddenly an hour of your day has disappeared into a black hole … the opposite of productivity.

mindfulnessPersonally, it was becoming harder and harder to stay focused on just one task. Add in the fact that I’m not a great sleeper and I knew I wasn’t reaching my maximum productivity levels.

When reading Ashley Judd’s All That is Bittersweet (highly recommend, by the way!), I was intrigued by her discussion around mindfulness and how it helped her deal with her struggles. According to Psychology Today:

Mindfulness is a state of active, open attention on the present. When you’re mindful, you observe your thoughts and feelings from a distance, without judging them good or bad. Instead of letting your life pass you by, mindfulness means living in the moment and awakening to experience.

Mindfulness is experiencing its 15 minutes of fame right now. In fact,

Mindfulness has been featured recently on the cover of Time magazine, at theWorld Economic Forum at Davos, in The New York Times and in just about every yoga studio around the globe. Google is holding mindfulness conferences, and so are General Mills and Twitter. Celebrities like Goldie Hawn, Lena Dunham and Kobe Bryant are singing its praises. Mindfulness experts like Jon Kabat-Zinn are more popular than ever.

Why is this concept so popular now? Perhaps it’s because we’re all collectively realizing that we’ve spent the last few years like ping-pong balls, bouncing between experiences, networks, conversations — all the while constantly thinking about how and when to share each moment with our online networks. It’s draining.

Enter mindfulness.

Whether you’re a serious student or a dabbler, the benefits are hard to ignore. After a particularly tough week, I decided to take action. Ironically, this involved downloading an app. Mindful, available in iTunes, provides a 10-day series of exercises to train your body and your brain. In addition to the daily practices, it also includes a range of exercises that can be completed at any time, from body scans to breathing exercises. My favorite part of the app is the nightly checkin. Each night, in an attempt to shut off your brain and gain closure on the day, you rate your stress, energy, level of concern and attitude for the day. You can also log anything nagging or hanging over your head and some quick steps to put it to rest for the time being.

Remember I said I don’t sleep well? I’ve been using this app for just eight days and I’m already noticing significant improvement in my sleep. Plus, my ability to focus during the day is strengthened, so I’m getting more done in less time — a major benefit, if you ask me!

Do you have problems shutting off your brain at night? Or trouble focusing one on thing during the day? Perhaps something as simple as a little mindfulness can help you refocus. Control your thoughts, don’t let them control you.

There are LOTS of apps to promote mindfulness in the app store. This just happens to be the first one I downloaded. If you’ve tried others, share them in the comments. I’d love to check out some other excellent apps!

3 comments
decillis1
decillis1

So there's this episode of Girls that this is reminding me of. Hannah's having a lost weekend with Patrick Wilson (*sigh*), and she starts talking about how she wants to stop having all the experiences for other people. She just wants to be happy. At the time, I was blown away by the statement, and I still kind of am. Instead of running, jumping and dancing from thing to thing for others, a focus on yourself and being kind to yourself is kind of a revolutionary idea for me. And yet, at the time, I couldn't accept it. Until I got myself ridiculously sick over the last month and a half. So this week, I'm working on mini-goals that are just about me. And your description of mindfulness is in the end what I'm doing. Being mindful of what I'm doing to my body and my mind in all instances, but doing it in short spurts and slowly working up to a more long-term focus on what makes me happy. My thought is that the better I am at being who I am, the better I will be at helping others be who they are. 


I may have just vomited a lot of crap up, but just thought I'd put it out there that this is what your post made me think about. And that I like that we're thinking about the similar things right now. :)

HeatherWhaling
HeatherWhaling

@decillis1  Hey! Sorry for the delayed reply. I love that we're on the same page! :) And, hopefully, you're feeling better. Our bodies have a funny way of telling us when we're doing something destructive to ourselves. Time Magazine at the beginning of Feb had a long article on mindfulness that you might like, too. Next time I see you, I'll show you the apps I'm using. They're based on yoga principles, so you may like them, too! :)

Shonali
Shonali

This is really interesting, Heather - I will check out the app! I've been using Lift to track and develop habits. I found it very useful, though I went through a period where I started to get stressed if I didn't check in a day or two. The more I thought about it, though, I realized that that too is within my control... and if I'm mindful about why I am/not doing something, then there's really no reason to get stressed!

It's interesting that you're focusing on mindfulness right now - I'm trying to do that too, and as you say, I think many of us are. Everyone has their own way of getting there, and learning about these different paths is really interesting to me.

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