One of the most challenging aspects of living in the information age is that, as it implies, there is so much information around that we are asked to digest. One of the big things that meditation and mindfulness can offer us is a way to deal with this challenge.
Many of the mornings I wake with a sense of having just a bit too much information to deal with. As I sit for breakfast, part of me is tempted to grab my phone and start reading the news online. Often, there is not so much that I am interested in the news, it is more that I want a way to escape the feeling of having too much information to cope with. The ‘instinctive reasoning’ is that I can escape my feelings of being mentally overwhelmed by distracting myself with more information. The problem with this strategy is that if I spend my breakfast time surfing more news and information, my mind will need to digest even more information, and I will get up from breakfast feeling even more overwhelmed!
Consequently, I have made a conscious choice to keep my phone aside during breakfast, focusing instead on being aware of the way my mind, emotions and body feels, deliberately slowing down a little, and doing less as I eat. Consequently, I get up from breakfast feeling more mentally rested, and that I have more ‘mind-space’ with which I can ‘digest’ the challenges of my day.
‘Turtling up’ – Dropping your outer and inner senses
My choice during breakfast above is an example of an informal mindfulness strategy to cope more effectively with the overloaded information. Every day we actually have many such opportunities to reduce the amount of information that we are having to process.
One formal mindfulness and meditation practice we can do is simply withdrawing our attention temporarily from our outer and inner senses.
- Our outer senses give us information about what is around us in the outer world.
- Our inner senses give us information about how our body and emotions are feeling, as well as what we are thinking, remembering or otherwise using our mind for.
To practice ‘turtling up’ is to withdraw your attention from your senses, like a turtle or tortoise gathering its head and limbs inside its shell. You simply find a quiet spot for a while and withdraw your attention from your outer and inner senses, finding and relaxing into a still space within the center of your body & mind. A tortoise inside its shell can still hear stuff going on outside, but it feels like it is a distance away. Similarly, you gather your attention inside your body and away from the activity of the mind and senses. You might still hear things, and your mind may still be active to a degree, but you are experiencing it ‘from a distance’ so to speak. You are relaxing in the still quiet space ‘inside your shell’.
The function of ‘turtling up’ is to enable your mind and senses to recover from information overload. By emptying our mind from information for a while, we enable it to regain its equilibrium, regenerate its energy and recover the ability to engage and digest information effectively and happily.
This week if you like you can try practicing ‘turtling up’ for short periods of time in your (would suggest at the start of your day) day to help you thrive in the information age, rather than being a victim of it!
© Toby Ouvry