Three inter-related aspects of connection grounded in mindful awareness.

 

There are more than a billion iphones in the world today, so in one sense, more of us are connected than have ever been in the course of human history.  Yet despite the connectivity of our technology, many of us, and many people in the world, are less connected to sources of meaning and regulation than we have ever been in our evolutionary history.  We are disconnected.  What’s missing from many people’s lives is real authentic connection.  Connection in deep and meaningful ways to ourselves- to a deep sense of who we are, what’s in our hearts and minds.  To a real sense of belonging to something larger than ourselves- a community, a tribe.  And meaningful connection to nature.  To the land, to the animals, the plants, the trees, the sky, the moon, the sun.  Our nervous systems are designed for connection, optimized for it, you might say.  And we yearn for this connection.

At the heart of meaningful connection is the cultivation of mindful awareness.  A quality of presence that enables us to stabilize our attention in a calm, accepting, non-judgmental way…an enhanced attention to the lived flow of moment-to-moment experience.  With this tool of mindful awareness, we can bring our attention inward, to our deepest needs, and outward, into our relationships with one another, and the world around us.  Applied Mindfulness exists to help people harness this quality of attention, and then direct it to the things we care most about.  Our experiential workshops and trainings help people develop the tools and competencies to be more deeply present with themselves, the others in their lives, and the natural world.  This brings a range of benefits, from stress reduction, to emotion regulation, to increased empathy, and a deepened sense of purpose, vitality, and meaning.  We do this work with adults, and with children, and we help adults learn to do this work with children and teens.

 

We are engaged in perhaps the greatest unplanned experiment on people's attention that the world has ever seen.

 

There has been a quiet revolution underway for the past 10 years, and it involves our relationship with technology.  This is technology of the Silicon Valley type, which has slowly infiltrated our lives, capturing evermore of our time and attention.  It has become more and more deeply woven into the fabric of our lives, and the lives of our children.  The iphone was introduced 10 years ago, and since that time, Apple has sold more than a billion iphones that accompany us wherever we go.  We sleep with our phones; we take them to the bathroom.  The research suggests that we check our phones up to 150 times per day.  Our screens have transformed from televisions that sat dormant in a room, to devices that we carry with us and can watch anywhere.  Find yourself in any public space, and the likelihood is that people are not talking to eachother, but plugged into their phones.  More and more of our conversations take place through the emotionally-flat medium of texting.  We don’t know our friends phone numbers anymore, yet we spend hours upon hours curating our online selves through social media.  If we have a question, we ask Google or Siri.  Google, Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix, Instagram,- these have all become part of our daily lives.  A startling number of us are showing signs of behavioral addiction.

 

These are devices so powerful, they change not just what we do, but who we are.
— Sherry Turkle, MIT psychologist, director of MIT Initiative on Technology and Self

 

And so the questions is this: are we actually choosing how to design our relationship to all of this technology, or is it re-designing us?  Do we fully understand that there are armies of highly skilled, highly paid people out there designing our technology to be irresistible?

 
  • How is our relationship with our technology impacting our children?
  • What does it mean, in our family system, that our attention can be pulled away from almost anything at a ring, a vibration, a ding?
  • Do we expect more from technology as we expect less from eachother?
  • Is our relationship with technology healthy?
  • Is it something we’ve consciously designed, or is it being designed for us?
  • How is technology changing our relationship to ourselves, eachother, and the world around us?
  • How is technology impacting our attention?
  • What does it mean for our public spaces that everyone is on their own headphones, in a private world?

What about our children?  Is this the future that we want for them?

 

A bit scary, isn't it?  We think so too.  But this is the direction things are headed, in our wholesale adoption of technology, which is being deployed at an ever-increasing rate on the youngest of our children.  The Kaiser Family Foundation, which studies media usage among children, reported in 2012 that the average American 8-11 year old was in front of a screen 7 hours and 38 minutes a day.  For teenagers, the number is closer to 10 and a half hours.  The Pew Charitable Foundation, in a 2013 study, found that the average American teen was sending 3364 texts a month.  Screen time.  Texting.  Social media.  Video games.  How does all of this tech affect the development of our children's brains and nervous systems?  In what ways is it beneficial?  In what ways is it harmful?  Where the effects are negative, how do you counter-act them?  These are some of the questions that Applied Mindfulness is interested in exploring with you.


It has become a norm to give a child the very device to which we say we are addicted.
— Dr. Catherine Steiner-Adair, Psychologist, Harvard Medical School

  • What does it mean that our children are obsessively curating their online profiles, competing to see who has the most likes on Instagram?
  • What does it mean that they are playing first person shooter games in virtual worlds with graphics so finely rendered that the surroundings look real?
  • How is our children’s relationship with technology changing them?
  • What does it mean that more than half of American highschool students would rather text than talk?
  • What does it mean that our children are spending more time in front of a screen than any other single activity outside of sleeping?

 

 

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