So Tell Me What You Want...
This song was playing in the background:
“So tell me what you want, what you really, really want
I’ll tell you what I want, what I really, really want
I wanna, (ha) I wanna, (ha) I wanna, (ha) I wanna, (ha)
I wanna really, really, really wanna…..”
– The Spice Girls
“Well,” she thought to herself, “I really wanna wake up as much as I can in this lifetime. I wanna be resting in a really cool place of peace and playfulness. I wanna take life less seriously and less personally. I wanna it to hurt less. And I wanna be able to lead others by example to that place of peace and playfulness……”
With these thoughts she goes back to work, writing an article for a magazine on healthy food options for a balanced life. Just then, a notification beep goes off on her phone. “I’ll just check if it’s important….oh, it’s nothing… where was I? Gosh I should turn off my notifications to help me stay focused.”
Back to writing the article. “Oops, just remembered I forgot to pay my phone bill…that will only take me two seconds. … Where was I? Oh yes, the article. Oh, now I’m feeling hungry. I’ll take a quick snack break and get a glass of water too.”
On her way back from the kitchen, she notices a plant that needs watering. “I’ll give the plants some water, too, they are begging for some. Mmm, the carpet needs a vacuum.” Not long after, she realises, “Oh no, I’m running out of time, my deadline is tomorrow…”
Does that sounds like a morning you’ve had at all?
Starting With The Best Intentions
“So tell me what you want, what you really, really want…” the song had asked.
“Well, I really wanted to be resting in a really cool place of peace and playfulness. Now I feel the opposite-stressed and distracted. And I didn’t do what I planned to do,” she remorses.
Only last week, she came out of a 7-day meditation retreat with so many plans to change these patterns. And here she was again, not following through on what she said she’d do, and so easily distracting herself.
Her body heavy and bent over, she despairs. “I need help with this. I’ve tried everything – that Mindtools subscription, using the priority matrix and practising time management. Even when I turn off notifications, I still open things I don’t need all day. I constantly ignore time restrictions I put on my apps, and open them anyway.”
Our fictional friend has my empathy. After all, her attention is being bought via intelligent marketing algorithms. No wonder she can’t help herself.
Us vs Marketing Algorithms
We hear this a lot from EVERYONE. And it doesn’t seem to be age specific anymore. Maybe the Babyboomers are affected less, being digital immigrants.
But from GenX down, a lot of us have an attention deficit.
Apparently, the notoriously ill-focused goldfish focuses for only nine seconds, but according to a new study from Microsoft Corp., people now generally lose concentration after eight, highlighting the effects of an increasingly digitized lifestyle on the brain. To navigate the complexities of today’s world we need more than a yoga class, or even a meditation retreat.
When I start a meditation retreat these days, I know it takes me quite a while to calm the system down from living and working with technology. In those first few days, the levels of nervousness and agitation for those first fews days is much more than it was for me 16 years ago. And it’s because I’m on the computer and on social media much more now. I acknowledge the huge benefits of technology for my livelihood, and yet it’s an enormous challenge to be sustainable around it.
Integrating Mindfulness Into Our Lives
To maintain a sense of purpose and connection, we have to learn how to embody mindfulness and integrate it into our lives – while spending eight hours on the computer, even while facing concerns about our planet’s future or while navigating the stressors of daily life.
This is why we created Clear Sky’s Integrating Mindfulness online course, which I co-teach with my partner Duncan Cryle. The Five Principles we cover help you cultivate a supportive container for personal sustainability so that you can live the change you really wanna see. What makes this course different is that it provides a space to talk with others about changing negative patterns and emotions to more positive ones and building a sustainable meditation practice that permeates your body, career, relationships and all other areas of your life.
If this sounds attractive to you and you really wanna talk, reach out to me at Karen (at) clearskycenter.org.