Reading List: Lent and Digital Mindfulness

It sneaks up on us every year, but Ash Wednesday is two days away and as we prepare for Lent, I know that many of us think about how we will adjust our technological habits to focus more on the spiritual journey of Lent and loosen our grasp on the business of everyday life and the whirlwind of social media. With this in mind, today’s reading list is all about digital ‘mindfulness’ and the unexpected complications that might come along with a push for mindfulness.

For something a little different this Lent, I’d like to point out an interesting activity sponsored by BigBible.org: the #BigRead14. Over the 40 days of Lent, they will be reading Stephen Cherry’s Barefoot Prayers and organizing conversations over social media for all to join in on. More information is available at http://bigbible.org.uk/big-read/bigread14/.

We’ll also be posting a series of weekly Lenten reflections on technology and spiritual life for our Wednesday blog posts, so be on the look out for the first in the series on Ash Wednesday.

Technology’s Mindfulness Racket – The New Republic

In essence, we are being urged to unplug—for an hour, a day, a week—so that we can resume our usual activities with even more vigor upon returning to the land of distraction. … In our maddeningly complex world, where everything is in flux and defies comprehension, the only reasonable attitude is to renounce any efforts at control and adopt a Zen-like attitude of non-domination. Accept the world as it is—and simply try to find a few moments of peace in it.

Defining Digital “Mindfulness” – The American Conservative

I would suggest that there are two types of mindfulness: one inwardly focused, the other outwardly focused. When people draw upon the terms “fasting” and “detoxing” for technology disconnections, they bring up two interesting examples of how mindfulness affects our inward and outward health.

11 Things I’m Trying To Do In Order To Achieve a Sane, Healthy, and Marginally Productive Relationship With the Internet – The Frailest Thing

Of course, I don’t think these digital disciplines will be universally applicable. You may find them entirely implausible given your own circumstances, or you may find them altogether unnecessary. All I’m claiming for them is this: given my priorities and my circumstances, I’ve found it helpful to articulate and implement these disciplines in order to achieve what I would characterize as a healthy relationship to Internet culture.

Digital Detox, a Tech-Free Retreat for Internet Addicts – Bloomberg Business Week

One attendee keeps feeling phantom cell phone vibrations. Another misses texting her best friend. Monika from Washington has the hardest time: She spends the weekend making a mental list of things she wants to Google when she gets back online. Still, she and everyone else say they end the weekend refreshed. “You know when a computer is on too long, and it starts overheating and making those whirring noises?” says Evan Kleiman, who works in business development and lives in Los Angeles. “I feel like my brain had been doing that. This weekend I finally managed to turn it off.”

Can’t Get Away From It All? The Problem Isn’t Technology — It’s You – Wired

The practice of taking an intentional break from technology and civilization is probably as old as technology and civilization. But it seems increasingly urgent now, in an era when the Internet—and thus most of the planet—is as close as an iPhone. We go to seek waldeinsamkeit, as the poet Ralph Waldo Emerson described it—the feeling of being alone in the woods.

bloomberg digital detox

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About the Contributor

Benjamin Robertson

Benjamin Robertson
Benjamin Robertson is a founding editor at Second Nature. He has worked in advertising for the Chicago Tribune and Gannett, and now is a web developer at Up&Up. He studied Communications and Media Studies under Dr. Read Schuchardt at Wheaton College in Illinois. He has presented papers on Marshall McLuhan, media ecology, and Christianity at the Media Ecology Association, National Communication Association, and the McLuhan's Philosophy of Media Centennial Conference in Brussels. He lives with his wife, Ruth, in Greenville, SC. His personal website is benjamingrobertson.com

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