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Natural Awakenings Austin

Staying Present in the Modern World

Jul 09, 2017 11:56AM

by Brad Schiller

Most spiritual teachings center on the present moment and encourage a focus on the “Now”. Everything in life happens in each moment and thus life should be lived with as little distraction from the Now as possible. Modern technology has provided many exciting wonders, but at the same time scores of today’s technologies rip people away from the present.

Email alerts on the computer, phone notifications of social media activity, apps begging to be activated and various electronics calling out for updates are all distractions from the Now. Some signals are extremely necessary, such as a car reminding riders to put on their seat belts, or a phone informing that someone is calling. However, most of the other interruptions are simply doing more damage than good. Quite often, notifications are enabled by default and thus many people do not even realize the multitude of distractions in their lives.

There is no reason a phone needs to notify each time someone posts on social media. Unless a job specifies otherwise, email should only be checked when needed. Do not allow the phone to beep or flash when an email arrives, as it will simply distract from whatever is happening in the present moment. Instead, turn off all email notifications and choose the best time to check email. The same goes for sounds or pop-up messages on a computer.

Reducing technology disruptions from the Now is easy with the following steps:

  • Evaluate current notifications on primary devices. All smart phones have a setting that displays a list of the device’s current notification or alert activations. Immediately disable any that serve little to no purpose. Fewer active alerts equal fewer distractions.
  • Pay attention to alerts that steal the current moment. Glancing at a smart watch during dinner for a notification of a news item might indicate the alert is not needed. When technology forces a disengagement from the Now, use the distraction to disable that particular alert setting right away.
  • Eliminate redundant notifications by allowing an app or device only one method of announcement. An incoming email should not explode on a computer monitor, phone and tablet at the same time. One device is usually enough. In the same manner, having an incoming message display on a screen, make a sound and flash an LED alert all at the same time is just begging to steal attention. Allow only one method for each accepted announcement.
  • Decide what to do about alerts before they arrive. Knowing that an email has arrived does not require immediate attention. The same goes for social media postings, text messages and more. Make a plan to stay as present as possible and be aware of the alert, but realize it does not require instantaneous action. Wait to check the device at a suitable time.

Life happens in the Now and everyone must be vigilant about staying focused on the current moment. Staying present is key for a happy life and technology should not take that away. Management of devices and their alerts is an essential skill for anyone in today’s modern world.

Brad Schiller is the founder of, which is dedicated to helping others live the most relaxed life possible.

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