February 16, 2010

Conscious Living: Notes from the New Media Age

“We live in a wonderful world that is full of beauty, charm and adventure. There is no end to the adventures we can have if only we seek them with our eyes open.” – Jawaharial Nehru

That quote was pulled from an excellent list of 50 inspirational travel quotes that is a constant point of reference whenever I need to be reminded of the important things in life. Last week I also came across another list of good “life reminders” entitled How to Be an Explorer of the World. Good stuff, eh?

So with all these wonderful, inspirational reminders, I should be living a healthy, balanced and creative lifestyle, right? But something still feels a little off, and I’m not alone. From my friends in the social media world (you know who you are) I often hear “it’s hard to keep up” or “the amount of information out there is overwhelming.”

There are many of us that spend plenty of time writing about the benefits of living slow, conscious lives, but when we take a step back and look at our daily realities, how slow and conscious are they? In fact, although they’re necessary tools to doing my daily job, a Crackberry, a constantly updated TweetDeck and a plethora of RSS feeds  aren’t really vehicles to feeling more balanced.

So what’s the solution for the new media mess? Before you veer away from this post because of its underlying tones of impending doom, hear me out. The new media world is amazing; it allows all of us access to new and interesting ideas, gets individuals around the world excited about causes that create positive change, and gives everyone a voice. But there are times to take a step back, and although this is all starting to sound very similar to another Elephant post I wrote, I think monthly reminders of how to live a more balanced life in the new media age are very necessary.

So here we go:

1. Be consciously active

There are some excellent writers here at Elephant that constantly remind us of the amazing benefits of yoga. Even if it’s just a couple of sun salutations in the morning, or a midday breathing exercise, it’s better than nothing.

2. Be creative

I’m not talking about crafting a wordy blog post or putting up new images on Flickr, no, I’m thinking about all those things we used to do away from the computer, like painting, cooking, dancing, learning how to throw pottery, etc. They’re equally important to your well-being as constantly refreshing the Huffington Post news feed.

3. Turn your email off (for a little while)

Seriously. Take a break. Turn it off for an hour or two. People can wait. And you don’t need to be clicking back and forth between the task at hand and your inbox. Multitasking isn’t, after all, all that it’s cracked up to be.

4. Keep things for yourself

My kitchen table is currently covered in art supplies, but I’m not going to post photos of what I made. We need things that are just for us, the stuff we don’t share across our social networks. Sort of along the lines of “art for art’s sake,” or completing a big project and then promptly destroying it,  you don’t need to be creating with an end purpose. Just do it for YOU.

5. Get outside

It might be a cliche reminder, but sometimes we need a good kick in the pants to spend time outdoors. And it doesn’t have to be a well-planned week-long backpacking trip. Focusing on spending more time outdoors can be as simple as checking out the crocuses in your neighbors yard, or taking half of your lunch break to go on a walk. People promote the outdoors for a reason, and if current statistics on health and happiness are any indicator, we need more of it!

So if you’re into making commitments for Lent, don’t just choose things to eliminate, but consider committing to doing more of the things that make you feel balanced. And keep those eyes open and unglued from the computer screen. New adventures pop up everyday.

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