Urban Mindfulness--The Book!

 

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    Friday
    Jan152010

    What Henry David Thoreau would say about cell phones

    By Jonathan Kaplan, Ph.D.

    My introduction to mindfulness came from reading Walden by Henry David Thoreau when I was in high school. His musings on leading a simple life in the present moment really resonated with me. Recently, I was re-reading Thoreau’s classic book, and I came across a passage that reminded me of how we have become addicted to our cell phones, PDA’s, Blackberries, and iPhones. Whether walking down the street, riding the elevator, or sitting in a waiting room, we’re often seen face-down, immersed in checking our messages. While communicating with others is desirable, it often distracts us unnecessarily from being present. Who hasn’t had the experience of “having nothing to do”, then starting to fiddle with the phone as opposed to simply breathing or noticing what’s happening in the moment? What's so uncomfortable about spending a few moments just "being"? Anyway, here’s the quote (sorry if it’s a little judgmental):

    “In proportion as our inward life fails, we go more constantly and desperately to the post office. You may depend on it, that the poor fellow who walks away with the greatest number of letters, proud of his extensive correspondence, has not heard form himself this long while.”

    Henry David Thoreau, Walden (p. 366), New York: Bantam Books

    Replace “post office” with “inbox” and “letters” with “e-mail”, and you have apt observation on current urban society!

    So, next time, when you feel the urge to check your messages or e-mail--even though you checked a few moments ago--just take a breath and ask yourself, “How am I feeling right now?”

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    Reader Comments (2)

    Wow- This really resonates. Thanks Jonathan. I can't tell you how many times a day I am checking my email, and nothing is there when I check so frequently. Next time I have the urge, I will have your suggestion in mind.

    January 15, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJennifer

    Excellent modernization of the quote!

    February 3, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterTaran Rampersad

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