How to practice meditation as a Mindful Cyborg

Mindful is defined as a state of conscious or being aware of something.

Through the persistent connection with our friends, family, news cycles, smart homes and wearable sensors, our ability to live in a state of continuous partial awareness is evolving how we define our attention.  

We are entering an era "connected consciousness".

A cyborg is a human being with both organic and biomechatronic body parts. 

A cyborg is not a robot, it is “an organism that has restored function or enhanced abilities due to the integration of some artificial component or technology that relies on some sort of feedback”

A person wearing eye glasses, a hearing aids or carrying a smart phone are examples of cyborgs.

In this age of hyper connectivity, augmentation and information, our bodies and minds are shared with machines, systems and tools throughout most of the day.

Preparing to Practice

In meditation practice we often speak of working with or returning to the breath.

The breath is a common “tool” we all share.

Through shamatha meditation, referred to as "peaceful abiding", we learn to rest in our natural state.

Tools such as curiosity, gentleness, stillness, slowness support our efforts in calmly observing our ordinary responses to the world.

Our smart phones and other distractive technology function much like our discursive thoughts during a traditional seated meditation practice.  

Out of the blue we are struck with a text message, the GPS telling us to “make a legal u-turn”, a commercial on television with the volume high. 

The “breath” of technology is always present.

Technical interruptions are the mindful cyborg’s discursive thinking.   

They pull at our attention like the random planning we find ourselves creating in the middle of a moment.

Yet the technology itself doesn't not react, regulate or judge in that moment.

Your phone by itself is "present" at all times, peacefully abiding.

The practice of working with technical alerts and notifications extends the use of our breath in peaceful observance to create a silicon proxy for our cyborgnetic respiration. 


The Technique

Start by creating a timer on the smart device for 10-20 minutes.

1.  Sitting with the body upright and comfortable on the floor or in a chair.
2.  The legs should be effortlessly folded on the floor or when sitting in a chair the feet should be slightly apart.  
3. The back should be straight and aligned over your hips. Shoulders could be pulled back slightly in a majestic but humbled posture.
4. The hands are open and loosely resting on the thighs.
5. The mobile phone should be switched out of silent mode. 
6. The screen should be face up approximately 12 inches in front of the gaze on the floor.
6. Eyes should be open, creating a soft relaxed gaze around the phone. 
7.  The mouth is open slightly while resting the tongue near the back of the top teeth.

Rest now in this moment gently surrendering to the thoughts in your mind and the noises around you.  

Ease slowly into the groundlessness of the inevitability your  phone will ring, a text message will be flashed on your screen and email will be received. 

All of the possibilities of this moment will arise and pass by without your interference.
When that car horn blows on the street bring yourself back to this place where you and the phone are just "receiving" information.

The telephone call from your boss arrives, the text message from your best friend or the "like"  on your last Facebook post, with gentleness and or curiosity, notice your thoughts, your body and how they change naturally shifting away from the device.

Do you fear the worse is happening? Is your hand wanting to lunge forward and silence your phone? Are you constructing your response to the call, creating the story about meditating and using your phone to share with the caller when you finally get done with your sit?

With great compassion while your phone continues to ring and the messages continue to enter your field of awareness, slowly observe the sensations.

After Meditation

At the end of your practice when your timer rings, notice how you feel with the alarm sounding.

Is there a sense or urgency to get back to your messages,  to your “life”?
Are you prioritizing the order in which you need to start "functioning" again?

Notice the body senses, thoughts and process, hold them like a new mother supports her child. 

Continue as your timer goes off to softly gaze at the phone with kindness, gentleness and compassion.

Your phone is not a distraction, your phone is always present, like your breath and this is an opportunity to explore the gentleness of distractions your smart phone brings to the world.

By practicing in this way you are learning to place yourself in “airplane mode”.
Chris Dancy January 8, 2016 Airplane Mode