A High Tech Flood
Many of us are finding the digital revolution to be overwhelming. Some of us are in agreement with the novelist Jonathon Franzen when he calls Twitter “unspeakably irritating…” and describes Facebook as “all one big endless loop…” Still we flood the world with our texts and tweets – in Scandinavia more than 85% of the population communicate by text and worldwide around 294 billion email messages are sent every day. Research tells us that our kids are no longer out playing in the fresh air but are addicted to computer games and almost all of us are on our laptops daily. We are constantly fed by the machines, devoured by a cloud of Electro Magnetic Smog.
And as we get older we find it harder to re-learn how to use a newly upgraded mobile phone/laptop/TV/DVD. The old one seemed so easy to use– how will we ever find our way round this new machine? And in addition to the pressure from keeping up with technological “improvements”, replying to our emails, extracting our phone messages, being informed by Google and dealing with call centres on the other side of the planet, we have another constant pressure from those flickering screens – according to some researchers we each watch more than 30,000 television commercials a year. Altogether it often feels as if we are being flooded and overwhelmed by our modern technology in one form or another.
There’s an old Daoist story about dealing with inundations. A young man sees an old monk fall into a fast flowing, wild river. He assumes that the old man will die, but later sees the ageing man make his way out further down the river. When he asks him how he managed, in his frail state to fight the flow of the waters, the monk laughs and replies; “I didn’t, I relaxed, and let the flow of the river carry me along safely until I found my way to the bank.” This is the essence of Daoist teaching and can help us all to handle the fast moving world of high tech, media and mass communications.
We can choose to fight and resist the changes that we find around us in the technologically fast paced world we now live in and carry on griping about texts and emails being ungrammatical and misspelt and worry about EM smog and its effects on our health. Alternatively we can burn out from over use of all things to do with the media revolution and then flee to live in a far away cave having nothing more to do with qwerty keyboards and the like. Or we can respond to this brave new world in the ancient Daoist way.
The Daoist solution is to neither fight nor flee our technological world but instead learn, as the monk did in the wild river, to relax and find ways to mindfully handle our high tech environment and so appreciate its benefits. Instead of feeling buffeted by the demands of email and phone, overwhelmed by the stream of media information, exhausted from too much EM pollution , we can respond to this frantic media landscape with ways that allow us to become masters not slaves to our machines. Learning to respond with stillness we transform our energy from frantic to flowing and feel better, calmer and more centred.
From Frantic to Flowing
Here are some suggestions to go from frantic to flowing and so handle better our high tech world
Before responding to an e mail or picking up a ringing phone take a moment to relax your shoulders, breathe from your abdomen and smile.
Switch everything off –phones, laptop, computer, TV etc for a set period of time every day. I suggest at least 2 hours per day to be free of all technological energy. No tweeting , face booking, no sykpe, phone calls etc during this time!
Go on a news fast for one day per week. No news from any source!
Once a month turn off all the power in your house – connect with inner energy!
Every day spend at least twenty minutes sitting watching the sky through a window or outdoors. This can be at any time of day and will help reconnect with a sense of spaciousness within . Switch everything off so that there are no interruptions!
At least once a week spend a couple of hours in nature –outside the city or in a park.
Take two ten minute naps every day to allow your mind to rest from constant input.
Follow these tips so that you transform your relationship with technology. You will find yourself back in the driving seat – in charge of the machines rather than letting them run your life. Goethe said “We must always change, renew, rejuvenate ourselves; otherwise we harden”. This is a very Daoist approach – to constantly immerse ourselves in a flood of technology we will lose our sensitivity and become stale, hardened to the flow of life. By turning off the machines regularly and tuning into our own energy flow we feel refreshed and re energised to go on enjoying our lives — machines and all!
This article first appeard in Positive Health Magazine. Www.Positivehealth.com
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Vicki Mckenna trained at The College of Traditional Chinese Acupuncture in Leamington Spa with Professor Worsley from 1981 gaining her Lic Ac. in 1984 and has been practising acupuncture in Scotland since then.
Dear Vicki, hurray for what you say. I find my own experience varying from times I am almost compulsively checking my email, perhaps in a bid to keep ahead of it, not allow it to pile up (the prospect of which completely scares me!). And then enjoying watching the amazing space of freedom that my bedroom window affords, trees, birds, clouds, endless yet gentle play. When the rest of my family goes to watch the TV, I go to watch a different square of space. And I find it deeply restorative. So I completely agree with your suggestion to watch the sky 20 mins a day. We should always be able to take up and also, importantly, let go of things, shouldn’t we? Thank you for a steady sane voice on this matter. Hurray for the Taoists.
Reflecting on what I wrote and more on what you wrote Vicki, I am struck by the enormity of the task at hand. The power of the pull technology exerts on our awareness to go out, outwards, away from our centre. The yang energy of this activity, connecting and stimulation needs to be balanced by the yin of just being, resourcing, receiving, allowing. One of these is loud and ‘in our face’, one is quiet and easier to overlook. Yet if we don’t balance one with the other we will be exhausted, just as you say Vicki. Your practical suggestions for making specific time to bring yin being to the fore are great. It seems to me, the more we want to use technology for the helpful things it can bring, the more we need to ‘big up’ our meditative practice and stability in being able to do nothing for significant time too.