Fifteenkey

A place to indulge my narcissism... and write stuff...

Tag: meditation

Affirmation Addiction

“Where I was taken to, brothers, was like no cine I’d been in before. I was bound up in a straight-jacket and my gulliver was strapped to a headrest with like wires running away from it. Then they clamped like lidlocks on my eyes so I could not shut them no matter how hard I tried. It seemed a bit crazy to me, but I let them get on with what they wanted to get on with. If I was to be a free young malchick in a fortnight’s time, I would put up with much in the meantime, my brothers.” – A Clockwork Orange, written by Stanley Kubrick

I could not stomach the ultraviolence in the first part of the film, so I have never actually seen the famous scene depicted here. I thought of it, though, while I watched this “60 Minutes” segment on “Brain Hacking,” the programming technique that app developers like Facebook use to keep us hooked into staring at their (our) content. You know, like “hooked on drugs.” Picking up your phone every two minutes like Pavlov’s dog is no different than reaching for your next hit off a crack pipe or a syringe.

All the likes, winks, hearts, emoji’s, follows, and comments each deliver a little rush of dopamine, just like drugs do. And when we can’t pick up our phone to breathe in those affirmations? Cortisol seeps into our blood to make us anxious. That’s right. We need our fix.

You’ve heard the saying, “the first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem.” I know I do. On April 1, I deactivated the F-word of social media addictions. I’m not missing it too much, not even the pointless political arguments. Still, I’m picking up the phone an average of 66 times a day, clicking on 187 apps like Outlook, Gmail, LinkedIn, Instagram, News, Messenger, Podcast Addict, Salesforce, Camera, Phone, Spotify, Sonos, Pictures, Yelp, Ticketmaster, Sleepbot, and Google Keep, and spending 2:54 in them…

I’m using an Android app called Quality Time to help keep me sober. If you Jones for an iPhone, In the Moment can be your sponsor…

Or maybe you just need space. This little app for iOS or Android “loads a Moments of Zen before apps you need space from.” I’m going to give it a try.

Speaking of Zen, here’s a way to be more mindful about using your phone, and maybe we should pay more attention to how our kids are being sucked into the borg

It must be weird if you just read this on your phone…

Thankfully Behind the Waterfall

behind-the-waterfall“You should try meditation.” That statement is usually met with a hesitant acknowledgement, and I can tell the receiver is dismissing the idea. For most, meditation is somewhere in the mental card catalog between LSD and “Séance.” It’s too “out there” and something only weirdos do. I wish Donald Trump would meditate. If he did, he wouldn’t be sending out angry tweets at 3AM.

My journey for the last year or so has been toward “happiness.” Well, that’s what I set the GPS for, but getting to a place of contentment isn’t via highway, it’s typically found with the setting that avoids interstates and tolls. It’s a slower, rural route, but the scenery is beautiful. That’s the point. How many times have you driven somewhere and not really “seen” anything on the trip? How about every day commuting? How much of our lives are spent completely unaware of what’s happening right in front of us? Our minds take over with a torrent of thoughts either reliving the past (depression) or worrying about the future (anxiety). Meanwhile whatever peace and beauty might be in the present moment is swept away by the tsunami of thought.

Meditation is like going to the gym for your mind. It’s training that helps you recognize when the waterfall of thoughts is flowing so you can simply acknowledge them and step back into a quieter space. This training pays off when life’s adversity hits. It could be in work, in personal relationships, or in traffic when somebody cuts you off. Instead of reacting from the sudden rush of emotional water, you can step back to the calmer place, take a breath and respond. Not always, of course. After all, we’re human and who the hell does that guy thing he is?!

Anyway, here’s a great 2-minute primer if you’d like to try meditation. I promise you, a year from now you’ll be thankful you did.

Happy Thanksgiving.

A millimeter of improvement

millimeterIt occurred to me last night that I’m no longer ruminating past events in my mind like an unsolvable Rubik’s cube. I am thinking about the future with some optimism, but mostly I’m just trying to be here now. Explorations on the nature of happiness and a consistent meditation practice (and it is practice because I’m still awful at it) are ongoing. I get about 3 to 4 focused breaths in and suddenly the to do list, some work thing, or wonder of who liked my recent Facebook post intervene. Practice… I’m able to catch myself and refocus on the breath, but the monkey in my mind is a persistent fellow.

swami_yoganandaFor a few weeks now, yoga has been added to the mental mix. Specifically, this routine and this one on the youtubes has got me going. I can do them now without Jen Hillman’s direction, and I’m hopeful that the little increments of improvement will add up to some lasting back pain relief, and being able to pull off this pose by the time I’m this guys age… Thanks Jen. Oh, and Megan bought a yoga wheel! As long as I don’t put myself in the hospital with that thing, I see it helping in the long term. That’s the thing with all of this… long term. None of this produces any overnight results. Whether it’s meditation or yoga, the improvements come millimeters at a time – but they do come.

“The very heart of yoga practice is abhyasa –
steady effort in the direction you want to go.”
― Sally Kempton

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