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Mixing technology and practice

There were many more good sessions at the Wisdom 2.0 conference this weekend. The intention of the organizers is to post videos. I’ll let you know when. Here are some of my notes from a second panel.

How do we use modern, social media technologies — such as this blog — to both further our own practice as well as share those experiences with others?

One panel discussion at Wisdom 2.0 on that topic included Tami Simon of Sounds True, Kaitlin Quistgaard of Yoga Journal, plus two technology insiders Gopi Kallayil of Google and the recent yoga convert Leah Pearlman at Facebook.


Kaitlin felt her yoga crowd often eschews technology as anti-spiritual or at least as just a distraction. Facebook just takes us away from serious practice, one could imagine hearing.

I’ve experienced that sentiment often. A friend even once asked me why I blog. “Didn’t that just reinforce ego?” she asked.

Kaitlin, as I understood her, found value both in retreating from the hyper-connectivity of modern technology — sometimes going on retreat in India for a month — and also she found value in mixing one’s external and internal connections in daily life. And that included the technology. And she specifically noted an opportunity to look at one’s motivations as we engage in these various forms of connection, as a momentary practice.


Similarly for Tami, a Blackberry user usually connected via email, each time she reaches for her device it’s an opportunity for her to investigate what’s going on internally and how she’s feeling. Especially when there was no real reason to check her email again. And what she’s found is that it’s most often a habit of confirming and stimulating herself. And she believed that was a fear of open space, of the unknown infinite, of the rawness of primary experience. And out of not wanting to handle that experience, she would reach for the Blackberry. It’s a great way to recoil from space. Before we had Blackberries, we could always recoil from space into our internal dialogue. But now these devices allow us to recoil by hyper-thinking in concert with others, via email or twitter.


One of Soren’s comments struck me, that we can have 1000 friends on facebook and still feel lonely. And I wondered, with all the connection is it really possible to integrate one’s path into the increasing speed of conversation? It seems a really important question, because these technologies are not going away but only become more prominent.

Back on the topic of working with the technology fueled speed, Leah suggested being creative in integrating spiritual work into daily life. She does things like formatting email on Fridays as haiku’s, both to keep their length down and also to inspire others to be brief; announcing growth intentions to friends to keep oneself honest; and seeing how much battery life she can end each day with on her smartphone. The more battery, the less she has repeatedly checked it. She swaps text messages three times a day with a friend, noting things she is grateful for.


And Gopi has also increasingly integrated his spiritual practice with his work life, going so far as to invite team members to Google’s meditation room (they have a meditation room?) for 10 minutes before a difficult meeting. He took some fellow Googlers to get hugs from Ama. And he makes sure that each day he spends at least one minute in meditation, one minute in exercise such as yoga, and tries to get to sleep early enough each day such that he doesn’t need an alarm clock to wake him in the morning. I really got the sense that he has slowly cultivated more and more of an integration and practical discipline into his routine.

Comments read comments(11)
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posted May 2, 2010 at 7:14 pm

When discussing technology and practice, we all owe the debt of acknowledgement to Anna Wise, who recently passed away.

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Tom Arbino

posted May 4, 2010 at 6:55 am

It is important to keep technology in its proper place and no let it rule you. Don’t let multi-tasking replace right mindfulness.

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Ken Elkind

posted May 4, 2010 at 9:12 am

In order to make use of our technology, we can unite all people on the Earth. By uniting us all with a single musical groove, we will use our evolutionary uniqueness, of being musical. Pray, sing, dance, clap, chant, or whatever to Be with The One Groove!!
Groove On

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Ed B.

posted May 4, 2010 at 2:31 pm

You above, enlightenedhorsemanship, thanks so much for the tip about
Anna Wise and her work. Of course I had no idea she existed. Just visited the site you included and also bought her “Awakening the Mind…
” from Amazon.
I’ll also subscribe to the retreat’s newsletter-if they have one.
What a find!
Thanks again

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posted May 5, 2010 at 11:23 am

I’m constantly fascinated by how technology aids our practice. I’d like to share with you this blog, written by Tsem Tulku Rinpoche, a Tibetan Lama based in Malaysia:
I think the most precious thing about technology is its immediacy and this is very vital in being able to share the teachings and practices with many people, very quickly.
This blog not super techy, but it goes back to the basics of blogging and sharing very traditional aspects of teachings and practice via the keyboard. Nice to see a Lama from a traditional background using technology to “teach”, albeit through a cyber world.

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posted May 6, 2010 at 9:21 am

You above, enlightenedhorsemanship, thanks so much for the tip about
Anna Wise and her work. Of course I had no idea she existed. Just visited the site you included and also bought her “Awakening the Mind… learn

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posted August 3, 2010 at 1:53 pm

Aloha!mroo! vvdfo wbpay

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posted August 3, 2010 at 1:54 pm


posted January 5, 2011 at 8:22 pm

It may be interesting to consider how current neuroscience might view the excessive (mindless?) use of social 2 dimension networking. Susan Greenfields talk below is certainly food for thought even though she is referring to the chikds developing brain.

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posted March 22, 2012 at 5:59 am

It’s not as simple as that. Practice Buddhism and it will improve your writing.

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Curtains Designs

posted December 30, 2012 at 4:30 pm

you have great ideas and great blog

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