This is a going to be a short piece. I wanted to take the time to recommend a very helpful new app called "Stop, Breathe & Think." The app, created by Tools for Peace, is user-friendly and is perfect for anyone interested in starting a meditation practice. You can learn more about it at http://stopbreathethink.org/ or directly download for your iPhone here and your iPad here.
Have you ever seen something posted on Facebook or Twitter and felt this strong urge to mount a vigorous response? I get that feeling a lot. When I scroll through my feeds I see an awful lot of stuff that sets off my, "Hey. That's not right" button. Whether it is a repost of information that is clearly urban myth or outright lies designed to misinform the public about a politician or issue, I often ask myself, "Can I let this go unchallenged?"
Social media has given everyone a platform. It has provided everyone a megaphone to communicate their opinions. For every decadent recipe for chocolate oreo balls that comes across my feed, there is a political or religious post that raises my blood pressure a few points.
I've been reflecting on this for a while, trying to figure out the most mindful approach to engaging in social media. Here are the questions I think about:
The struggle usually comes down to this. Do I avoid conflict and allow the person to have his/her opinion without my input or is there a responsibility on my part to fight for what I believe in?
I'm not sure what the right answer is. Perhaps it must be taken on a case by case basis. A list came across my feed today (see below), and I felt it was incredibly relevant to this discussion. It is a list that I will try to keep in mind when I am using social media.
I apologize if anyone is offended by the word "spiritual." I try hard to keep the tone of the blog as secular as possible, but these twelve symptoms were just too perfect for the topic of this post.
I paid particular attention to symptoms 8-10. I have found that when I am consistent with my mindfulness practice I have far less interest in conflict. The desire to show people I am right diminishes, and I am far more comfortable with opposing positions. The instinct to rebut others nearly vanishes. The way I approach conflict is lighter. I'm far more open to the idea that I may be the one that's wrong. It's as if my life's mantra becomes, "Let it be." I smile more and realize that everyone, including myself is evolving. That evolution may be slower than I'd like sometimes (particularly my own), but progress marches on. When I zoom out far enough, through mindfulness, I see that my judgment of others plays a huge part in thwarting my own progress and is often rooted in fear. I recognize that my ego is looking for ways to be separate and above others rather than tapping into my "spirit" which is seeks connection and peace.
I don't think that mindfulness means we have to avoid speaking out about the issues we feel are important. I think it just means that when we speak out we do so in a way that first seeks connectedness and avoids viewing others as our opponents or enemies. We do so in a way that demonstrates openness and equanimity. We do so in a way that avoids animosity and puts love first. We should seek first to understand and THEN to be understood. When we take a mindful approach, we recognize when ego/fear is inserting itself into the interaction and short-circuit it in an effort to avoid negative emotions within us and in others.
If you have not already done so, I hope you will connect with me on Facebook and/or Twitter. You can help keep me accountable for the words I have written here.
So you want to start practicing mindfulness, but don't know where to start, don't think you have the time, and need some direction. Headspace might be your solution. This free app, available for iPhones and Android devices, will help you develop a daily mindfulness practice. With a user-friendly interface and easy-to-follow directions, Headspace provides us with a simple, scientifically grounded tool that can be used on the go. Can you find ten minutes each day to decrease your stress levels and improve your mood? Give this app a shot.
iPhone Users CLICK HERE Android Users CLICK HERE