We hear the term “mindfulness” a lot these days. Mindfulness is being aware of what’s happening right now or being fully present in the moment. Not an easy task. With the busy pace of our everyday lives, I agree it’s hard for anyone to stay 100% in the Now. But ask yourself how many moments, or percentage of each day, you can actually claim to be truly in a state of mindfulness. Probably not much. The disturbing truth is that so many of us don’t want to be alone, let alone sit with our own thoughts. We seem compelled to always be doing something—usually on our cell phones or computers. We have sadly become electronic junkies, being immersed in non-stop stimulation for most of our day. We rarely stop to eat or wait in a line without whipping out our phones for something to do. Consequently, we often have no idea what’s going on around us or the amazing opportunities we might be missing–not to mention the incredible insights we might have had were we to actually allow reflection.
In a recent study by the Universities of Virginia and Harvard, results showed some of us would rather suffer mild electric shocks than be left alone with our thoughts:
“Researchers in the US recruited volunteers aged 18 to 77 from a church and a farmers’ market, then subjected them to a series of experiments. One test, in which individuals were asked to sit in an empty room doing nothing for a few minutes, had to be abandoned when one of them found a pen and began writing a “to do” list; in another case, a researcher left behind an instruction sheet, and returned to find the volunteer using it for origami. When asked to do nothing at home, 38% admitted to cheating. Finally, participants were sat in a room with no distractions save for a machine that delivered electric shocks. Although they had all suffered shocks before, two-thirds of men, and a quarter of women, chose to distract themselves with pain–with many doing it more than once. “What is striking,” said the team, “is that simply being alone with their thoughts for 15 minutes was apparently so averse that it drove many participants to self-administer an electric shock that they had earlier said they would pay to avoid.”
Shocking? (no pun intended) I reflected on why some hadn’t simply opted to meditate or even take a 15 minute cat nap, unless eyes closed was not an option. I know that meditating and napping are still theoretically doing “something,” but it does appear that the study focused on the ability to physically and mentally disengage. The bottom line is still the same–a majority weren’t able to do it. Which leads one to ask, what are we missing in life when we are so entrenched in being electronically connected? I personally believe we’re missing the bigger picture and this state of disconnection is a roadblock to spiritual growth.
A friend of mine, who is quite often on his cell phone–texting, emailing, or cruising the internet, had an epiphany the other day and sent me the following video. He told me that it made him take a look at himself and, as a result, he made a substantial change to his “hooked-on-being-hooked-in” lifestyle. I was impressed. It always starts with a moment of mindfulness reflection to see a whole new path. The video is called LOOK UP and you might just see what you’re missing, too…
LOOK UP (4:58 mins.)
Dr. Kathy Forti is a clinical psychologist, inventor, and author of the new book, Fractals of God. amazon.com/author/kathyforti