Minds and Machines

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  • Tuesday, 31 January 2017 02:47
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Minds and Machines Photograph courtesy of Dr. Judit Torok

Minds and Machines

OUR lives depend too much on technology. The theory of Moore’s Law tells us that computing power will continue to double every two years, meaning that technology will become ever more accessible and affordable to people. A result of relying too much on technology is that people tend to live on autopilot with only a dull awareness of even the most special moments in their lives. Tuning out real human connections and experiences brings feelings of isolation, depression and other physical, emotional and psychological dysfunctions, even toxic self-criticism. It’s no wonder that Internet addiction is now considered a legitimate medical disorder.

What can we do to avoid being swallowed up by rapid technological advances and their powerful effects on us? As technology and machines infiltrate our culture and lives, how can we hold on to our humanity?

...disconnect to connect

A simple practice can answer these questions: disconnect to connect. This compelling message, perfectly understandable in any language, encourages people to create a habit of fostering real human experiences. By taking time away from technology, we’ll be rewarded with precious moments, clear thoughts and a sense of peace. When we are disconnected and unplugged from the Internet, we become more attentive to each other’s feelings, needs and emotions, which are all necessary when building valuable relationships with our family and friends. So let’s all remind each other to live our lives in the moment more often, and create experiences away from the technological buzz.

Easier said than done, right?

But it is possible to do so by setting up a certain time, maybe an hour or two, every day away from technology. Shut off the Internet, lock away the phone and turn off the Wi-Fi. Then use that time to play, go for a walk, have fun, create something, seek out new experiences, do some yoga and pay attention to your breathing. Meditation and the practice of yoga are two excellent ways to reconnect to your mind and body. In the moments when we are disconnected, let’s take note of our thoughts and feelings, and remember to laugh a lot and be curious.

I admit that it is becoming harder to completely unplug our lives from the machines, so the above recommendation might not be practical for everyone. Here is another suggestion for those who can’t do away with the Internet: use technology to focus your mind, calm your thoughts and balance your emotions. Your phone or computer doesn’t have to be your enemy. Instead, use the power of technology to practice “mindful awareness” and meditation. Our minds need a sense of ease and space for reflection, so building a regular mindfulness practice into our schedules using technology can help us reconnect to what’s most valuable.

There are plenty of apps and websites to help you learn mindfulness and meditation. For example, Headspace is an app advertised as a “gym for your mind.” First, it teaches you how to meditate, and then how to be mindful of your everyday activities (relationships, health, performance and more). Another app for busy people is Buddhify. Whether you’re cooking, taking a bath, traveling or waiting at the doctor’s office, this app’s friendly interface will guide you through short meditation practices based on the ancient tradition of Buddhism. Whil is a program for different types of mindfulness training – such as compassionate leadership and mindfulness for teens – that can make us all healthier and happier people.

So how do we foster happiness in this age of overwhelming technology?

I recommend practicing mindfulness every day. tj

The complete article can be found in Issue #278 of the Tokyo Journal. Click here to order from Amazon.

Written By:

Judit Torok

Tokyo Journal columnist Dr. Judit Torok is a philosopher, intercultural thinker and yoga instructor. She was born in Hungary and learned Japanese fluently at an early age. She has visited Japan many times and worked for a Japanese company for more than a decade. She received her doctorate degree in philosophy at the New School University and uses her intercultural background and education as a springboard to focus on theories of ethics, aesthetics and multicultural marginality. She is an energetic, creative and certified yoga instructor who promotes a holistic and healthy lifestyle for people of all ages, backgrounds and abilities, incorporating general wellness, alternative medicine and nutrition into her classes.


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