In my June 2012 newsletter, I wrote about embarking on a self-imposed technology diet and referenced research that revealed those who do a great deal of multitasking have more trouble focusing and shutting out irrelevant information. Not surprisingly, they also experience increased stress. What was surprising is that even after the multitasking ends, fractured thinking and lack of focus persist. Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute of Drug Abuse and one of the world’s leading brain scientists, states, “Technology is rewiring our brains and this rewiring process has resulted in our becoming an impatient and results-oriented culture.”
I was recently on a teleconference with Feng Shui expert Terah Katherine Collins. The discussion revolved around creating more balance in our lives. One very intentional Feng Shui way to achieve balance is to create a place, or places, in our homes that allow us to just “be.” In the course of this discussion, Collins said, “When we’re always hurrying, it takes away the experience of being kind.” I particularly resonated to this comment.
Kindness is the quality of being friendly, generous, considerate, and even forgiving, in thought, word and deed. When we’re in a hurry to meet a deadline, we tend to lose the quality of kindness – both to ourselves and to others.
My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness.― Dalai Lama XIV
I recognize when I’m hurrying and impatient, I am not being kind to myself and certainly not to those around me. My sleep and food intake suffer; I may not be as generous in traffic or in allowing someone to step in front of me in line. How different those situations become, internally and externally, when I’m not in a hurry. Observing your energy around sleep, food preparation, or lack of, when in traffic or waiting in line provides a reliable way to check your daily level of balance.
Do you recall the self-imposed technology diet I intended to be a month-long experiment? Well, it has taken a life of it’s own! Nine months later, I continue to find myself unable to return to the level of technology involvement I was participating in prior to my “diet.” One of the effects of this has been to reduce my sense of urgency to get things done. That urgency, I realized, was not external but self-imposed. As a result, I am more mindful in taking Collin’s words to heart when she encouraged her listeners to assess the balance quotient of our lifestyle in its three aspects: Rest, Play and Work.
Rest – getting a good night’s sleep as well as allowing time for introspection and just being still.
Play – non-time dependent activities. While we tend to think play is just for children, it’s equally important for adults. When I think of playing, gardening, travel and daydreaming come to mind. These typically demand no deadlines. They put me in “flow,” a complete absorption in what I’m doing. Watching children at play is a perfect example of flow.
Work – time dependent activities. This includes any action puts pressure on us to meet a deadline.
Collins reminds us that to achieve and maintain that ever-elusive healthy balance, we need to consider allowing eight hours each for the Rest, Play and Work aspects of our lifestyle. Now there is a powerful intention to set!
To get started, ask yourself these questions:
- Is there any place in my home where I go to rest, meditate or just be?
- If the answer is “No,” then ask: Where and how can I create it? Keep in mind, that special place can be a favorite chair, a window with a view you love, or a favorite spot in the garden.
Then evaluate the number of hours you actually spend resting, playing and working. You may want to keep a journal with these categories, keeping track of the time you expend in each within a 24-hour period. Tally at the end of the day. Do this for a week for insights on lifestyle areas to improve.
I’m definitely working on it! How about you?
Live a balanced life – learn some and think some and draw and paint and sing and dance and play and work every day some. – Robert Fulgham