A Mindfulness Query
I drove north last week and kept my multi-tasking to a minimum by listening to NPR. I don’t remember the name, or host, of this call-in radio program, but the subject certainly commanded my attention. The show focused on the evolutionary impact of what the narrator called, “continuous partial attention.” Sounded like some new disease, but I recognized that he was describing the way text-messaging, email, and cell phones interrupt our lives, so we can never give full attention to the present moment.
While I love the “connected life” as much as the next person, I fell into the camp of the callers who bemoaned the negative impact of these new technologies on our lives. That is, until one woman called in with a perspective that turned my perceptions upside down.
She gave “continuous partial attention” a positive spin by suggesting that this phenomenon had caused her to become more “mindful.” It actually prompted her to consider how she wants to live her life more consciously.
She provided two situations as examples. In the first, she is walking along the Charles River and asks herself whether she wants to wait for a text message from her brother, or turn off her phone. In the second, she is having dinner in Cambridge and decides whether or not to pull out her phone to determine what’s showing at the Capitol Theater in Arlington and what the weather is like there.
These two scenarios helped me understand her point that these new technologies provide an opportunity for us to become more mindful about the quality of our lives. In fact, I had just addressed an interrupted-life problem the day before.
To alleviate the increased stress that a newly acquired volunteer job had created for me, I developed what I called a “Saturday strategy.” I decided to tuck the daily, incoming email related to this work into a “2-Read” file and also to enter every “to-do” item from phone calls I received into my planner. Then on Saturdays, I intend to devote two hours to this work – period. I’ll let you now how this strategy works out: )
If we wish to be fully present to the richness in each moment of our lives in this age of “continuous partial attention,” we’ll have to strengthen our “mindfulness” muscles. Are you willing to ask yourself the kind of questions the caller did when she was walking by the Charles River, or dining in Cambridge? How do, or will you choose to handle your day-to-day interruptions? I’d love to hear about any decisions you make and the impact these choices have on your life.
If you’d like to learn more about how the life coaching structure can help make your life less stressful, more productive and, dare we say it, actually fulfilling, you can contact me for a free consultation.