Being Mindful in a Digital Age

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The many benefits of mindfulness, namely meditation, are staggering. Studies show that maintaining a mindful practice like meditation can reduce stress, extend life, boost your academic abilities, and even increase your overall happiness. Mindfulness can even make you a better leader.

Not surprisingly many companies like General Mills and schools like the NYU Stern School of Business have developed initiatives to cultivate and promote mindful wellbeing, scholarship, and leadership among employees and students.

But how is it possible to be mindful in a society overrun by digital distractions? We possess an undeniable hyper-connectivity to our mobile devices and emails, how can we possibly carve out the time necessary for a mindful practice? Luckily, there are many different ways to be mindful, not just meditation, and there are a number of unique tools to help us in this pursuit.

If you are ready to start your journey into mindful living but are unsure of where to start try an app or podcast to get you going. I know it sounds crazy, using technology to aid in mindfulness-shouldn't we be meditating in a room without lights, phones, computers, and tablets?

While technology may seem like an obvious deterrent to mindful living, I think it can actually be our greatest ally! Take Headspace for example. The free access version of this app walks you through ten consecutive days of mindful meditation. Thankfully for us novices, the sessions are guided.

As I sat down for my first meditation session in the Headspace "Take 10" series, I was instantly relaxed by the very calming voice of our narrator, Andy. Not only was his British accent completely calming, it also provided a very practical anchor for me throughout my practice. Listening to the narrator take you through the motions and steps of meditation makes the session fly by and gives your mind something to actively focus on.

I was surprised that this series was narrated. Obviously, the point of meditation is to calm and quiet the mind, so wouldn't it be a silent endeavor? The truth is, this guidance made the experience that much easier and more beneficial. Having something to actively attach my inner narrative to did not add to the noise in my head, but rather provided a singular focal point on which to concentrate it all. Andy's voice focused, calmed, and quieted my mind and made me mindful of my thoughts and their tendency to wander. Miraculously, I was consciously present in my body and mind and the ten minute session passed in what seemed like nanoseconds.

If apps aren't your thing, try looking at programs like the Mindfulness Project at NYU and the resources they provide, like meditation podcasts. Other podcast series may also be helpful in getting started. Meditation Oasis, for example, is available online but it can also be easily accessed using iTunes or Spotify.

Meditation isn't the only way to be mindful. In fact, simply being mindful of what you are thankful for can affect your wellbeing. The key is to be mindful and express this gratitude.

Take the step toward a more mindful life today!