…..With summer on the way it would serve us ALL well to reconsider the amount of time we spend on technological gadgets: television, telephone, computer, ipad, x-box, wii, etc. Neuroscientific findings are mounting to confirm that these activities change our brain, the prefontal cortex in particular (Small, 2008). While not all these changes are bad, studies reveal that the more time spent online, the more the brain shows signs of atrophy, such as abnormal white matter and structural abnormalities in gray matter (Dokoupil, 2012). After extensive research on the subject, in his Pulitzer Prize nominated book, The Shallows, Nicholas Carr cautions that the Internet is leaving people feeling more anxious and compulsive. Though the use of the Internet is strengthening our ability to scan information rapidly and efficiently (Taylor, 2012), this may be evolving us “from cultivators of personal knowledge into hunters and gatherers in the electronic data forest” (Carr, 2010). According to Taylor (2012), our children are becoming less adept at remembering things and more skilled at remembering where to find things, and this may be a good thing. Perhaps not having to retain information will allow more engagement with the higher order cognitive processes of critical thinking and problem-solving (Taylor, 2012). Time will tell. In the meantime, all things considered, it remains clear to me that self-regulation and the sensory awareness it brings continue to be central to our health in the long term. The capacity to notice when with Internet use we are becoming more anxious or compulsive, as well as the capacity to adjust our behavior accordingly, will make the difference in who suffers from these potentially “addictive” activities (Dokoupil, 2012), and who is able to navigate through the use of technology unscathed.
…..Your One Tip: Conduct your own experiment and simply NOTICE with sensory awareness how technology affects you versus some other more natural activity (sitting in the grass, going for a walk or bike ride, or listening to beautiful music). My experiment was as follows: While being transported one day in Oregon from airport to hotel, I looked out the window at a large gorgeous lake and noticed how open and expansive my chest was becoming, how my breath deepened, and my shoulders relaxed. I then heard texts come into my phone, and as I turned toward the phone to receive them, I noticed the changes in my physiological experience. My chest became tighter, my jaw clenched slightly, and my stomach stirred. Rather than answer the texts in that moment, I put the phone down and looked back at the lake and noticed once again how my physiology shifted back into a greater state of calm and comfort. I was back in The Zone: the state of greater ease, the balanced, self-regulated state from where all good things happen. Returning to The Zone over and over again by spending time in nature, engaging in physical activity, making art or music, and doing the 60 Seconds balances out the effects of technology on our nervous system. This balance is what allows us to maximize the benefits and minimize the risks.