Media, meditation, and monkeys, oh my!

 In education

People, my mind has gone full jumping monkey.
As I’ve plunged more fully into social media (with a vengeance, tally ho!) during my Web 2.0 course, my mind has become hyperactive, jumpy, and just a wee bit obsessive. The instantaneous and fractal nature of working online is seductive; I’ve followed so many rabbits down so many holes that I’ve created an underground bunny kingdom.

The virtual world is addictive; it fires up our reward centres and keeping us clicking along. I may check the clock at 9 pm, think vaguely that I should stop blogging/ tweeting/ networking/ surfing  – and when I look up again it’s 10:30. My brain then stays jacked on for at least another 90 minutes, too giddy to unwind from all that stimulation.

I usually sleep like a rock. The last month? Insomniac.*

“Networking,” “plugging-in,” and “multi-tasking” titillate the monkey that is waiting to swing in our mind trees. As we all engage in the virtual worlds of our choosing (twitter, Facebook, surfing, second life, video games, etc.), we need meditation and embodiment practices more than ever before. While it the virtual world is just as “real” a forum for social interaction as face-to-face, participating in these worlds removes us from the sensations and experiences of our physical body and immediate environment. Virtual worlds are an increasingly common, culturally sanctioned out-of-body experience that occurs from the dubious comfort of sitting in a chair in front of a computer.

Full health requires embodiment. We need to retain our capacity to sense, to taste, to touch, to hear. The more we are in our heads, the more we need to come back to our bodies.

“You should sit in meditation for 20 minutes every day. Unless you’re too busy; then you should sit for an hour.” – Zen adage

For every hour that we spend surfing, can we spend just five deliberate minutes mindfully feeling, stretching, walking? Being with kids is a wonderful way to get back into reality (they won’t let us be otherwise – um, unless they’re on your IPad). And let’s not just tend to our bodies, but let’s calm down that crazy monkey in our heads as well. Sitting in meditation for even just five minutes will help us find a little space for our thoughts. Otherwise the minds can become infatuated by its own agenda, forgetting that it rests in the greater space of our being-ness.

I am loving every moment of my Web 2.0 course. Participating more fully in social media is dynamic, fun, collaborative, and exciting. But this work has also exposed some of the consequences that come with playing online. Now that almost everyone in our culture is hooked in, more and more of our educational and recreational activities are become virtual. And in this tidal shift, it is becoming far too easy to leave our bodies, senses, and feelings behind. You know, like Neo in the Matrix.

It’s an exciting new frontier. And by all means, let us all go “to there,” as Liz Lemon might say.

But let’s make sure we’ve got some happy bodies and spacious minds waiting for us when we get back home.

Photo courtesy of Creative Commons.

*(Another reason paleo friends are becoming close to my heart; they emphasize our need for sleep.)

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