Mindfulness as virtue


  “Be present. It is the only thing that matters.  –Way of the Peaceful Warrior

THESE are the best of times. These are the worst of times. Charles Dickens could have said these words just as fittingly to apply to this tech crazy world we live in today.

There are far too many distractions emanating from tech wizardry that derail us from being mindful — that glorious state of mind which allows us to fully live joyfully while recognizing and appreciating the present moment.

Mindfulness is a skill borne of discipline. It is the mental and deeply spiritual process of laser focusing one’s energy and full attention to the sensations and experiences happening right now. This skill effectively places all other concerns in the back burner while fully engaged in the moment. Mindfulness has become a highly valued skill in today’s extremely distracting world seemingly spinning at warp speed.

It is essentially a mental skill that can be honed and developed by consciously tuning out all distractions through the discipline of regular prayer and meditation. It is the finely honed craft of just being yourself in the moment, without the baggage of the past or the anxieties of the future. It is considering the present moment as a gift to be relished and enjoyed fully.

Do you feel incomplete, naked, inept and insecure when you are not tethered electronically to your cellphone or your computer? Do you feel less of a person? Take heart. You are not alone.  There are billions of us in this increasingly wired world.

The advances in communication technology have created a world where we can send and receive information at breakneck speed. The thoughts, the images of anyone, from kings to paupers, from the most profound to the most profane, from the wisest to the most foolish, from the most beautiful to the most horrific, once formed, can be transmitted to billions of people around the electronically wired community.

Just like the common cold, thoughts and images “go viral…”  The power of a message is now measured by the number of tweets, hits and views it gets.

Many are choosing to live in virtual reality rather than in the real world believing they can safely hide behind a cloak of anonymity. Disabuse yourself of the idea. No one remains anonymous for long. No one in the internet is sacrosanct.

These thoughts and images go around fast just like the weather patterns that change and swirl around the globe. And just like the weather, our cultural world is being shaped by our collective thoughts within the structure and framework of the technologically wired environment we live in today.

Do we then damn technology because of the potent power it helps wield over us? Certainly not. It would be a big mistake to blame technology for our present woes.  Just like fire and electricity and practically all of man’s tools and inventions through the ages, technology is a double-edged sword. It can enhance human life or it can destroy just as well.

The fault, dear tech user, is not in our stars but in ourselves. It is how we define our relationship with technology and use it in our daily lives.

We can be the boss of it.  Or if we lose control, we can let ourselves be obsessed by it. It can wreak havoc on our souls, our persona and ultimately our lives.

How do we know if technology has us wrapped around its little keypads? It is easy enough to self-diagnose this condition.

When we are no longer mindful of our present conditions and depend on technology overly much to do the thinking for us, then we are truly in deep doodoo.

People have become so preoccupied and distracted by the mind boggling possibilities presented by multitasking that is engendered by a tech-enhanced way of life, that they tend to forget what is important and what truly matters.

How badly can it get? There are horror stories of mindless idiocy. Countless car accidents borne of texting while driving, are a testament to the tragic loss of mindfulness and by extension, common sense, among us earthlings.

Witness the number of news items about overly busy, distracted working parents who forget that they have babies strapped in car seats in the back of their cars leaving them to die in the heat of the sun. It is a sad commentary that while we have all the technological aids at our disposal to make our lives better, we fail to use them appropriately.

How do we detox? Try going tech free at designated times or for long stretches of time without having to check your phone or your computer for messages that you feel compelled to respond to ASAP. As I have said in another article championing the cause of living mindfully in the moment, “Log off and enjoy your hot chocolate.”

Unless your work involves saving lives, taking a vacation from technology may prove to offer a higher quality of life by getting back to a state of mindfulness.  Eventually, as we learn to synch and balance our lives with our tech tools, they will be obedient dogs serving us as their master.

Think of the perks. We get to appreciate the present moment and appreciate and deeply love the people we are with right then and there. We get to “Carpe Diem” and experience joy in real time. We get to open our eyes and our hearts to the beauty and infinite majesty of just breathing and knowing LIFE IS GOOD– so good you can feel it in your bones.

Best of all, we get to reserve the eminent right to remain essentially human — ever mindful that we are created in God’s own image and likeness.

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Nota Bene: Monette Adeva Maglaya is SVP of Asian Journal Publications, Inc. To send comments, e-mail monette.maglaya@asianjournalinc.com

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