The quicker technology gets, the faster we move to keep up.
if you were to hop on a plane for a Trans-Atlantic trip today, it could take about 7 hours. Today, we'd consider that a long trip and lament the flight time.
Consider that that same Trans-Atlantic trip in the last century would have taken 10 days, or 240 hours, and would have been done without the interruption of phone calls, emails, meetings, and more.
While we're grateful that we don't have to spend 10 days crossing the Atlantic any longer, life demands that we move at a very high pace and we have come to expect everything to be instantaneous. We have instant communication to anywhere in the world. We send emails and texts instead of waiting for a letter to arrive. We download products so we can have them now instead of having to wait for them to be shipped. Think about it. When was the last time you read an entire web page, a newspaper, a long book? We scan, looking for hyper-links and words that look relevant to what we want to know.
The portion of our brain that handles this function is evolving and becoming much more proficient at the tasks we are asking it to do, but other areas are atrophying with less use. I believe this change can be seen quite easily when you observe the last few generations. Younger people can text extremely fast. They master any smart phone in minutes, as well as all the new technologies that require their brains to work quickly and to scan for only relevant data. Their parents (my generation) came along when the Internet, computers and all of this technology was being developed. We can use it, but our learning curve is longer. Seniors on the other hand struggle with much of the technology. It moves too fast for them and feels overwhelming.
However, what we are learning is that the younger generations in general have trouble focusing for any length of time.
The portion of their brains that handles the more contemplative processes is not being developed or is used very little. This is also becoming true of us adults, and is the primary focus of my work with clients when I do
. So our brains are doing exactly what we are asking them to do - get better at operating at high speed scanning and let go of the old skill of reading one word at a time or sitting for long periods and thinking about one thing or reading. I recently heard of one college professor that built a texting break into his longer classes because the students couldn't pay attention that long without a break for their mind to go off in another direction.
It's not that possessing a brain that can ramp up in speed is a bad thing. It can be an asset, but we don't want to lose the contemplative ability that we have developed over centuries. That is why I feel that activities such as meditation are important because they force us to take a portion of time out of our day to just be still. They increase our awareness of just how fast our minds want to move and give us the opportunity to gain control of that. We can call it training the mind if that is a more comfortable phrase, but our minds are a tool that should serve us.
If you cannot focus your mind on one activity for a certain period of time that you feel necessary, then who is really in control?