Mindfulness Matters

Mindfulness Matters

Freeform Friday :: Talking to Yourself

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Welcome the new technological age! Today, I’d like to discuss some on our relationship to technology. 

Having spent many years working in mental hospitals, I am accustomed to people talking to themselves. Not long ago, if you overheard someone talking to themselves on the street, you might assume they had some issues. Now, this is a common occurrence as people, and I dare say I am sometimes among them, walk around talking on their mobile phones. I’ll come up behind someone and they are appear to be talking into the air — are they psychotic or oh so cool on a blue tooth?

Why is this so bothersome? We don’t modulate our voices. We are often shouting into our phones. Now we have noise pollution. Talking on the phone and walking around town we are disconnected from the reality around us — stumbling into people, buildings, and cars. Texting is worse. Recently, someone told me about a man texting on a bicycle on Burlington’s waterfront bike path. Really?!
We walk around, plugged into our technological devices, communicating with others in this multitasking way. Are we being more mindful or less? Is there a new form of mindfulness emerging on the technological horizon — a new social reality populated by status updates and text messages, smart phones and 24-hour and nearly global availability?
I don’t know about this. 
There are actually parts of Vermont that don’t get cell service. The initial response to this might be consternation, but for me it is followed by a sense of relief and even nostalgia. I’m inaccessible. I misplaced my cell phone a few years ago for a couple of days. After the panic subsided, I felt a great sense of quiet, as if a hush had come over the world. I was inaccessible and this felt like a delicious guilty pleasure.
As a culture we have developed a collective case of infomania. We obsessively check our phones for voicemails and text messages, glue ourselves to Facebook, wait for that life transforming email.
We are not all like this, of course. Not everyone is on Facebook. Not everyone has a cell phone or smart phone. Not everyone checks email every day. Those of us who do take it personally when someone does not respond immediately. 
Technology is changing our landscape of expectations and the way we relate to the world. I think its probably a good idea to unplug once and a while. At the very least, we can do this when we practice mindfulness meditation daily. 
See what it feels like to unplug. 
  • Nate Orshan

    I’ve long thought that Arthur C. Clarke’s famous third law of prediction should be paraphrased, “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from mental illness.” I’m glad I’m not the only one noticing this!

  • Leslie Merwin

    I am very disturbed by the fact that now people who arrive at the top of Mt. Everest will be now intent on electronic communication and missing out on what is truly happening in the moment.

  • Nancy

    I am mentally ill labeled and I don’t go around talking to myself. I also do not have nor ever have had a cell phone. Normies are so limited in their knowledge of mentally varied people. That was not a great comparison.

  • joanie_babelonie

    Since when does talking to one’s self make that person mentally ill? And who the hell are you, Mr. P$ychiatric hospital employee, to imply that there’s something UNDESIRABLE about HAVING a mental illness?
    Those who subscribe to the corporate drug cartel’s notion that people branded as mentally ill “lack insight” into their conditions would do well to take a good, hard luck at themselves before casting aspersions on others. Frankly, to hear a p$ychiatric ward flunkie associate solo dialogue with Madness makes me want to talk to myself all day long, loudly, in public, with not a bit of concern with what pathetic little padlocked brained mentally healthy people like you think about it.

  • Dr. Arnie Kozak

    Dear Readers, It is never my intention to offend anyone and sometimes that happens despite my intentions. I have read and reread my entry and I don’t believe that I have implied that talking to oneself makes one mentally ill, nor have I implied that it is undesirable to have a mental illness. As someone who has worked in the mental health field for 27 years, this is not an attitude I hold. It is the fact that some people with psychotic problems talk to themselves in public. That was the point I was making, and I am sorry if this comparison is viewed as offensive. No offense was meant.

  • chritopher

    i have been writing about this issue also. There is a separation of reality occurring. I have been trying to come up with some phrases to help define the problem with the intention of only offending or confusing technophiles and anti luddites
    terms include: Incongruent emissions, Pseudo Reality and Ultra Reality
    a person who talks on a phone and ignores the world around them is experiencing a Pseudo Reality
    If they are shouting or laughing and no one is there regardless of the presence of a mobile cell phone they are creating incongruous emissions.
    If a person was shouting or laughing and some one is physically there to respond and validate their laughter they would be emitting congruently and thus experiencing what I call an ultra reality.
    so in a sentence I would say, “there are many people in pseudo realities in-congruently emitting all over the place unaware of their ultra reality” rather than “noisy wankers on mobile phones bumping into people”

  • Abambagibus

    I drove up to the house of an acquaintance one day and noticed that a friend of his, who had parked in front of this selfsame house, was leaning against his car while fingering his phone. To my query as to the impatience of his demeanor, he replied that he was text-messaging his friend to let him know of his presence and was anxious for him to come out. Curious, I asked him why he hadn’t simply walked up to the door and rung the bell, maybe fifteen feet away or so. He answered that it was too much of a bother.
    In front of a church of my choice I was speaking to a friend whose back was to the road. There, as we conversed on the sidewalk, he noticed the singing of his phone. It was a message from someone eagerly wanting to leave. He chuckled that his teenage son, who had just gotten his license, was waiting in the car, in the driver’s seat, where about six feet away, with the window fully open and his arm hanging out, the boy was looking impatient. I asked him why he hadn’t simply announced his presence directly to father and not indirectly by means of artifice. After all, he was so close, I thought. To this he shrugged his shoulders and enunciated the sentiment that it was too much of a bother.
    In the movie ‘Julie and Julia’ there’s a scene where Julie and several of her friends have just sat down at a table in a restaurant. One by one, each of her friends receives a call by way of cell, all then consciously departing into separate conversations, leaving Julie, who was eager to connect, disconnected and alone at the table. Those who have been fully assimilated will be unable to notice the social significance of this, I am sure.

  • Julia

    Conscious Communication
    By Laura Castanza and Julia George ©2010
    Human beings have one of the most evolved yet complex means of communicating with each other. Written and spoken word is expressed through countless languages and dialects within our world, enhanced by non-verbal cues and physical movements that accentuate our intention when communicating in-person. It is a challenge for us to interpret and convey correct messaging when engaged in face-to-face dialogue, let alone in correspondence with others through the vast array of telecommunication tools/devices (email, text, instant messaging, internet forums, video-com, etc…). However, when we choose to learn how we personally operate, we can clarify and deepen our exchange with others through practicing conscious communication in all our interactions.
    Conscious Communication is born of emotional awareness. Our self awareness is the first step to setting in motion the change we seek in our life circumstances. Our emotional awareness is the impetus that allows us to heal from the inside out and ultimately evolve from our negative patterns. Once we begin to identify how we feel, we can learn new ways of responding to repeated situations and scenarios; our style of communication manifests from recognizing that which keeps us stuck and pushing our self to do differently. For instance, if we have a quiet demeanor, our lesson may be to speak up. If we interject our words over others, we may be required to listen more intently and shut up. Either way, it is a tremendous amount of work to feel our emotions as they arise; to recognize our congenital “comfort zone”, push our self beyond it, and ultimately communicate more effectively from our higher conscience.
    Feeling is our primary objective. We cannot consciously communicate without knowing how we feel and the cardinal emotion(s) that drive us to reach out to others. The technology of our age gives us the opportunity to be more in touch with one another; however all the devices at hand (literally) support an illusion of being connected as we avoid the unavoidable intensity of face-to-face dialog. We increase our friendship circles, yet as we expand we know people less. From 15, to 150, 1500, or 15,000 “friends” on the internet, we cannot fill the deficit of our emotional body unattended. Our access to others all the time, anywhere in the world, keeps us distracted from what we may experience when we are truly gadget free, dealing with our self alone, or with others in our immediate environment.
    To truly communicate authentically, we must be willing to cut through the distractions of telecommunication connectivity and open our self to one-on-one personal encounters. Authenticity is possible via telecom tools, but only after we have removed our mask and shed the roles we play in our most intimate relationships (family, friends, work associates…). When we meet each other face-to-face, intentionally or not, we are promised an authentic review of our self and our emotional state. How we react or respond during each interaction indicates where we are on our path. If we have more negative encounters or exchanges than positive, then it reflects our most prevalent inner state of being. But if we are aware and working diligently to change our negative dynamics with others, then our interactions will naturally become more positive. The mirror can only be looked into face-to-face. The shift can only occur when we begin to look at the most difficult patterns of particular interactions that never seem to change; the people whom which we have been unable to resolve our feeling of pain with and whom every time we exchange dialog, is like torture.
    Surrendering our preconceptions is essential to being open in a personal exchange. We inadvertently blanket our present moment experience with our past, unacknowledged issues. Assumptions are such, creating obstacles in our communication because they are based on past perceptions. This prevents new ideas and thoughts from entering our consciousness. We do not intend to bring our baggage with us, but we inherently do. Only through our self awareness can we leave our baggage behind and truly open up to our present situation. It is our experience; all we have to do is show up, be present, and become the “Samurai Warrior” of our emotions. Not an easy task! As a result, we may choose to listen more than speak until we’re more adept at identifying our feelings, even in seemingly the safest of circumstances.
    Once we are accountable for our feelings, we can discern “acceptable” and “unacceptable” communication with non-judgmental awareness. Non-judgmental awareness is reverential observance, of seeing the situation “as is” without tainting the experience with our preconceived mindset. When practicing, we do not seek to condone nor chastise others for their expression, but rather look at our own involvement and whether the scenario resonates with us. By taking responsibility, we can communicate our needs more clearly and make our decisions accordingly. Without identifying how we feel first, the acceptable and the unacceptable are indefinable, leaving us without clear boundaries in our relationships which propels us further into emotionally charged exchanges or worse, suppressed and unexpressed expression where dis-ease begins to take physical form.
    A neutral emotional state is our goal. When we are affected by someone in a negative or positive way, we hop onto an emotional rollercoaster that leads to suffering. How affected we are by others words or actions exposes the wounds of our self/psyche that is asking to be healed. We are ignorant of our embedded wounds until we are sick from the pain of reoccurrence. It is here that we are gifted the opportunity to dig deep into the darker side of our being and shed light on the parts we have repressed or rejected (being displayed in another or through our own acting out). We cannot effectively verbalize or communicate prior to the excavation and unearthing of our experiences and how they relate to our emotional body.
    For more information or to discuss learning conscious communication one-on-one, contact Julia George/Aquarian Age @ 561.750.9292 or

  • Julia

    PS I talk to myself. LOL!


    mental illnesses is a delicate topic. To use strong associations as
    “psychotic” to “talking to oneself” is a sad way to make a point.,
    psychosis are interpreted with a strong negative perception, and labeling that as you know or should know is extremely insensitive, and increases the degree of judgement often associated with that. I mean you can be bipolar, as to thinking it is normal on the phone, or wait maybe not!
    truthfully, considering you are in the mental health profession, you should participate in desensitizing the stigma of psychosis, not using it as an example , to sensationalize your story!
    I am sure any one whom is psychotic to different degrees, would wish there only issue was mumbling to themselves
    now and again! I think the point is, you touched on a sensitive issue.
    You should certainly be more careful, not to offend your readers. Maybe you can use your experience in psychiatry
    and writing to enlightened your readers on these issues, so less defensiveness would be needed .Also, incorporating psychosis into the mainstream, and have Kate perry write a song, maybe lighten up the topic a bit!

  • Nancy

    I think we are becoming less and less able to “communicate” on a personal level because of all the new ways to “keep in touch”. I own a cellphone, a computer, do email, do Facebook. But spending an afternoon break with a work mate or having coffee with a friend face to face cannot possibly be topped by a phone or text message that can be easily misconstrued because of the lack of facial expression or body language. These are so important in “communicating” with one another.
    Communication is becoming a lost art.
    I live in Vt.where reception is often sketchy. I do not text. I do not talk on the phone driving. I use my cellphone mostly for long distance calling. For me, a cellphone is a convenience item, not a necessity.

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