Mindful Tech: How to Bring Balance to Our Digital Lives

Observing Yourself While You’re Online

    A central premise of the work presented in Mindful Tech is that you can learn a great deal from observing yourself while you’re online.

    We have a strong tendency to focus outward when we’re online — to focus on the email message we’re composing and the task it addresses, on our latest Facebook posts and the people they connect us to, on our Google search for hotels in the Denver area. In this outer-directed focus, we are often impatient and rushing ahead. If a page fails to load in our Web browser quickly enough, we’ll immediately switch to another application. Operating in this way, there is no room to notice what is happening in our mind and body — no room to see, for example, that our left foot has fallen asleep, that our shoulders are tight and our breathing shallow, or that we’re feeling anxious and distracted. Yet noticing such things can provide a great deal of useful information — information that may increase our understanding of our current online tendencies and habits, and that can serve as the basis for making valuable changes.

    All the exercises in Mindful Tech depend upon self-observation. To give you a sense of what it looks and feels like to observe yourself, I offer you two short exercises you can do now. Each will take only a few minutes to perform.

    • The Mindful Check-in invites you to pay attention to what’s happening in your mind and body.
    • The Cellphone Observation exercise invites you to notice what’s happening in your mind and body while you’re using your cellphone.