Recently, I’ve been spending a lot of time at the computer, working on projects that depend on the many amazing powers of modern technology.
A week or so ago, after many hours of peering at words and images on the screen, I noticed my heart feeling hard and stiff, my body feeling tight and sore. As I felt into these experiences I realized I had been disconnected from the bodily aspects of experience, forgetful of my intention to inhabit my body in a caring way.
In response to that noticing, I made a commitment to myself. I decided to reconnect with an informal practice I’ve done from time to time over the years: approaching computer work from fully embodied awareness. To make this very real, I resolved to step away from the computer whenever I begin noticing that body awareness has disappeared.
(Now that I mentioned it, actually, I’m going to get up right now and reconnect with the body for a few minutes… back in a few…
Okay, I’m back, and feeling my breath, together with the keys under my fingers as I type!)
One thing I’ve noticed with this practice is that sustained awareness of the body while working on a project like this one causes me to work more slowly, with less forward pitch toward the outcome. It brings a softer, more reflective quality into play. I just have to remember, same as when sitting on the cushion, that there isn’t really any other place to be anyway.
Another noticing is that it takes a wide, soft, relaxed kind of attention to stay awake to the life of my body when I am deep in working on a writing or other computer-based project.
One lovely surprise is that getting up frequently and moving and stretching the body really helps prevent, or at least counter, the tendency toward what I would call over-focus. And, I find that a lot of the time the work actually gets done more effectively when I can stay soft and embodied.
Here is what I know so far: embodied computing practice is rich, and, like the rest of our practice, it requires the willingness to begin again and again.
Have you tried practicing mindfulness while on the computer? Or with your cell phone? Would love to hear what you notice…