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A cure for technological distractions in five minutes a day with mindfulness and meditation
While the distractions of social media and always-on devices pile up, it's becoming increasingly important for people to unplug and refocus. Workplaces can be circuses of nonstop meetings, endless barrages of email and social networking, and people walking around with their faces stuck in devices.

RELATED: Mindfulness in the workplace: how two minutes a day can reduce stress and improve focus

And the solution to technology overload may be mindfulness.

Many organizations are finding that mindfulness works: it decreases stress, increases productivity, and helps people form better personal connections. Companies such as Google, Procter & Gamble, Aetna, General Mills, and Target all have meditation rooms. The Seattle Seahawks have a meditation coach, as do other sports teams and entertainment figures, including 50 Cent and Katy Perry. Even the US military is teaching mindfulness techniques to members of the armed services.

If you don't have a mindfulness coach or advocate at your company, you can still practice in the comfort of your office, home, or cubicle. It's easy, and you can see benefits by spending only five minutes a day. Here's how.


Mindfulness is like a workout for your brain.


Wait. It's easy?

It is! All it takes is 5 to 10 minutes a day. Find a place in your home (or office) where you can sit comfortably and undisturbed. Leave your phone in another room on silent mode. You don't need to cross your legs or put your hands in funny shapes. You also don't need to say, "Ommmm." All you have to do is sit there and concentrate on your breathing. When your mind wanders, go back to thinking about your breathing. Repeat until 5 or 10 minutes pass. That's it.

Why can't I have my phone?

Silly person, your phone is a distraction. It may ring or ding or vibrate, which will take you out of the moment and make you want to answer it, look at it, or silence it. You're trying to eliminate distractions like that.

Over the years, we've become so addicted to taking in information, it's become our primary mode of operation. It started with television, which people still sit in front of and do nothing except absorb whatever's being shown on the screen. Now in recent years we've done the same with computers and phones. We move from one screen to another and one piece of information to another with no time to think, synthesize, or be creative.

Eventually you may want to create a space in your home with a "no technology" rule, like your bedroom, so you don't have the temptation of picking up your phone in the middle of the night or looking at it first thing in the morning. That way you can be more aware of what you're doing without having your attention stolen by the latest email message.

You mentioned some benefits?

Yes, many benefits. Focusing on the benefits is probably the best way to get you to set aside some mindfulness time. Here are a few backed up by data and research:

•   Increased ability to focus. 
•   Physically shrinks the stress centers of your brain. 
•   Increased ability to know what is happening in your head without acting on it. 
•   Better self-awareness. 
•   Increased sense of compassion. 

Another benefit that can't be undervalued is creativity. To be creative, you need space and time. You need to be able to be alone with your thoughts. That's impossible when you're surrounded by distractions that prevent you from concentrating on anything for a long period of time. Filmmaker David Lynch famously explored this idea in his book Catching the Big Fish.

In a lot of ways, mindfulness is like a workout for your brain. We already know it's important to work out our bodies to stay healthy, so it makes sense to dedicate some time to working out our minds. You may find you're happier, more creative, and better able to concentrate on whatever you're doing.
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