Mindful Media: Make Your Time with Technology Worthwhile

technology-791029_1920I love technology, but like many good things, it can be abused and overused. More applicable to me, it can be very, very time-wasting. Yet I keep reaching for my phone and turning on the T.V. any moment I can. It’s a habit that I (and many of us, I assume) have been forming since Saturday morning cartoons.

But over the past two years, I’ve become interested in mindfulness, and guess what I’ve found. On the days that I am mindful about the way I feel and how my choices affect me, I’ve enjoyed every aspect of my life ten times more, including technology. Mindless consumption is one thing, and it really isn’t good for us. But really enjoying a T.V. show, looking for educational YouTube videos, connecting with family on Instagram—these are all good things, and they’re so much better when you are completely present.

I don’t mean to say that it’s good to fill your days and nights with as much technology as you possibly can. I think that when you practice being present—asking yourself how your body feels, how you feel emotionally, and what sensations you’re receiving—you will actually choose to consume less media, but the media that you do choose to consume will be worthwhile.

So here are my recommendations for mindful media intake:

1. Television (yes, Netflix bingers, I’m talking to you)—When you’re watching a T.V. show, try not to do anything else while you watch it. I know, this sounds like you’re wasting more time. But I’ve found that when I work while I’m multitasking, it takes longer and suffers in quality. If you find that you want to do something else while you’re watching your T.V. show, turn it off and do the thing you want to be doing! You’ll have watched less T.V., and your work will be vastly improved. Plus, you’ll have fully enjoyed the T.V. that you watched!

2. Social Media—It’s so easy to scroll down the endless pit of news and videos and memes. I do it every day. So here’s something that’s made it a little more worthwhile for me. When you find yourself becoming zombie-like, clicking from one image or post to the next, try to turn this venture into a creative one. Snap yourself out of it by either making your own account where you can share your expertise, making a personal connection and contacting one of the people you’re stalking (maybe you could reconnect with an old friend), or finding a creative outlet. Joseph Gordon-Levitt has started a website called HITRECORD. It’s an online community where you can post and develop creative projects!

3. Meditate—Yes, you’re right, this isn’t a technology-based mindfulness technique. It’s an ancient one! I’m including this because, no matter what, mindful technology doesn’t compete with being mindful in the physical world. Meditating starts with your mind and your body. It helps you to reduce anxiety, focus better, and breath better. So, if you want to use media more wisely or if you feel like you need a media cleanse, start with some meditation and see where it takes you. I love to meditate first thing in the morning, but do what works for you. Here is a great app that will guide you through meditations: Stop, Breath & Think. You can download it for free on your smartphone or access it online.

Mindfulness helps you enjoy every moment in life, focus when you need to, and make better decisions throughout the day. I hope these suggestions are helpful to you! Let me know what you think.

—Sophia Parry