The distracted brain
I've always thought that training in Zen could help with the compulsion to check email, Facebook, Twitter et al, while doing a specific task. For myself, I've felt that i wasn't fully present. I would have the desire/attachment to check my iPhone constantly while being notified or not that there was something for me to distract myself from whatever I was or should be doing. Shikentaza has definitely helped; While sitting with no-gain in mind, It has helped my be aware and more full present, but I still have hiccups. I have become less compulsive, yet it has taken a lot of work. I thought this article I just read would be interesting to us and our society. Do distractions sap our mind power?
Can we truly be free from our technological dependence?
Yes we can, in the sense that we can control information inputs that are not useful.
It's more a matter of discipline and to know what is really important, than to sitting, in my opinion.
I closed my Facebook and Twitter accounts more than a year ago. Too distracting and full of garbage information. I have accounts but they are only for work and clients' projects.
I have a dumb phone with no data service because I see no benefit of being connected all the time on a mobile device. It has wifi, but I rarely use it.
Still, I am connected all the time because I'm a web designer. It's a paradox, I know :)
Even Treeleaf ... in moderation. No need to read every thread and word (I am really the only one who needs to do that :) )
As vital as the words are sometimes ...
... the empty space and silence between and behind the words preach too.
This is a problem that I am dealing with too! I do believe, like Kyonin said, that it is more about discipline than necessarily just sitting (while both do help). Also, another thing I noticed is that you have to know that what you are doing right now is the only thing that matters. If you completely immerse yourself into the matter that you are dealing with right now and enjoy every second, you will be less prone to distractions. You also need to make sure while doing something important to not even check Facebook, twitter, Tumblr, etc. even once! Because if you do, then your brain is more prone to wait on that fun response about that snappy statuses you posted, or for more people to follow you on Twitter!
On a final note, the only thing you need to know is that the current task that you are doing, is the one true thing to do. Working contentment, is what I dubbed it. :p
Don't let technology control you.
Hope this helps.
I could talk all day about this subject, but that would be causing everyone much distraction [smile]
Seriously, there have been a number of discussions on distraction and social media and mind power being sapped -- I remember Kyonin breaking up with Facebook, and admired it as all the while I kept on posting my snappy statuses. I have posted my own laments here (quite a while back) about how distracted I have become, and frustrated about it, seeing how it affected my life so negatively. I make things a hundred times more difficult for myself and then wonder why I feel so limited, lost, and like I am failing at many things.
It's apropos that you posted about this Onken, because I was just going to say that recently I reached breaking point -- *real* breaking point -- and just over a month ago I stopped checking Facebook all on my own. No "social media diets" or half-hearted New Year's resolutions or anything. I, queen of snappy statuses and pictures of her lunch and cool knitting projects, got sick of Facebook. I still can't believe it.
In addition to that, last week I got tired of all the noise in my head. That noise was there because I was putting it there, perhaps compensating for Facebook maybe, putting Netflix or Youtube on while reading or working or doing other things. Radio, CDs, chatter. I reached breaking point with that, too -- and suddenly stopped putting anything on. I stopped even turning the computer on until well into the day.
Did that happen because I hit rock bottom? I don't know. I got to a point where I wanted to just face the discomfort of being in silence and see if I would collapse and die or not. (So far, I haven't.) There's still constant noise and chatter in my head, but I am making myself face it. It's really, really uncomfortable sometimes and has caused me some weepy spells.
I am still dependent on technology -- fresh out of graduate school, I was possessed to start an Associate's degree in web design, entirely online. That and other obligations keep me forever tied to my laptop, smartphone and tablet. But if I reached such a point of stopping my worst habits, maybe if you allow yourself, you will get there too.
I need to get back on Facebook, people have been sending me messages that I know I need to answer because that's the only way I can reasonably contact them. I've been avoiding it as if once I look, I'll be sucked in the black hole again. I actually peeked twice and that didn't happen, but I still feel hesitant.
I am trying to think what helped me to get to that point. Believe me, me leaving Facebook with no gun to my head to do it is an enormous thing. I still don't quite understand why or how. I think I started feeling like, why should I base my whole self-worth on my snappy posts and an average of 8-12 people's "likes"? I am worth more than that, no matter how positive and appreciative I feel about the people doing the "liking". It just kind of dawned on me.
Another big thing was that I started sitting zazen for much longer periods of time -- it had dwindled down to 10-15 minutes from 20, sometimes even less. Now I am attempting 30 on the average sitting, and my all-time high for one sitting (by myself) is 40 minutes (which I only did twice). I have ADD -- this is a huge deal for me.
I know that watching The Dhamma Brothers documentary did much to encourage me for the increased sitting times. I saw them sitting for 10-ish hours a day and suddenly felt bashful about my 10-15 minutes. But I think the inspiration I drew from that had something lying beneath it, the same force that got me off Facebook.
Note: I still check Twitter, about every 4 days compared to every 30 minutes. So something has clearly happened.
I should say that my no-social-media role model is Kyonin, whose power to embrace simplicity and emptiness always manages to awe me. So pay more attention to what he says about it than what I say, but I hope I've said something helpful here.
Social media leaves you stressed, empty and even more lonely. It's a paradox because it would seem you have all your friends at the tip of your fingers.
Originally Posted by murasaki
Me? I don't do anything special.
All I do is read books instead of timelines.
I watch full movies instead of YouTube clips.
And when I really feel the need to shout out how I feel, I don't. :P
And I sit.
And I run.
And then some more.
I'm glad you are staying away from Facebook. I think you'll re-discover a lot of nice things.
I am almost always on Facebook, and I have also known this was a problem. While I am doing projects (I am an animation student) i am constantly checking every social media site possible, its like second nature. I am going to use this post to inspire me to slowly decrease the time spent on social media at all. Thank you all
I like this Kyōnin ... I too am similar. I don't own a TV, I do use the computer a lot, as I am a Web / UI Developer ... But limit my intake to work stuff and some personal stuff on my blog.
Originally Posted by Kyonin
Because I spend time working on the computer, when work is done I am outside running and hiking ... And of course sitting. :)
The simple beauty of Zen ... The simple beauty of a simple life.
Facebook, Youtube, Twitter and all the rest can be distracting. But it is a we who allow ourselves to be distracted. There is no strong hand forcing us. It isn't wrong to use these things, I'm on Facebook myself quite a bit. Typically, I'm on there just to chat with friend and to check up on this Zen group I'm in on there. You guys might find it interesting actually, there are some really amazing people in it, just like here.
No, we can use these things, we just can't become attached to and dependent upon websites and other forms of technology. I like to think that if something happened and my computer was fried or my internet connection eternally taken offline... I would just go outside. We don't necessarily have to live like monks to exhibit a similar mindset, and to live our lives with mindfulness, kindness and generosity. I might suggest that when we're on Facebook or something similar that when we're reading, just read. When writing to a friend, just write. When scrolling down the page, just scroll. When looking at a picture, just look. It can be very easy to let your eyes dart all around the page, taking in truck loads of information at once without resting on any of it. All things can be Zazen, even that which is contemporary and technological. I've always found a strange kind of peace when typing, actually. The feeling of the fingers on the keys, the clicks as each one is pressed, the beauty of the words forming on the screen.
Facebook is a tricky one for me. As I am mostly housebound with a chronic illness it gives me some human connection. However, as Kyonin points out, mostly that is purely illusory and makes me feel more disconnected. I am a member of an online Haiku group on Fb which is definitely a community I wish to remain part of. The answer is probably in moderation, though, checking that once in the morning rather than leaving the laptop on all day. I need to become more used to sitting with pain and frustration outside of sitting rather than turning to electronica for mental distraction. Aside from that, it is a beautiful day! :-)
Personally I set up times and time limits (although I cannot keep them always).
Not more than 5 minutes Facebook twice a day (at most).
When it comes to news, I follow two RSS feeds. In the morning after breakfast and in the evening - I give myself 5 - 10 minutes for that as well.
I don't watch news on TV anymore and I hardly read any newspaper nowadays.
You should give this a try:
Tell yourself not to follow any news for one week (neither online nor newspapers, TV, radio, etc.).
Only switch on your mobile phone when you leave your house.
Check your private emails at fixed times 2 - 3 times per day (at most)
See what happens...
The world will still be there and you will be fine (perhaps you'll even feel refreshed). [happy]
You'll actually see you really don't need to be that much informed...
A good way can be also to ask other people if there is something new. Many of them are happy to tell you something.
When I visit my parents and haven't followed the news yet I often ask them "Anything new? Didn't have time to follow the news today" - and then I get at least a short overview and it leads to interesting conversations.
BTW: I can only recommend visiting Leo Babauta's blog: http://zenhabits.net/start/
Other than sitting on g+ and treeleaf I'm. Not that into social media. Recently joined facebook and twitter because of a new hobby/job and I see how the mediums themselves try to suck you in. Who are these people that want to be my friend? -)
Seriously tho I do spend a lot of time online for work and fun and do enjoy some tv but try to balance it with lots of physical activities.