Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Guardian News: Adjust Your Defaults

In his Life & style series of articles, Oliver Burkeman wrote a great piece about changing habits in The Guardian Online newspaper, Friday 7 December 2012, titled: This column will change your life: adjust your defaults.

Here are some of the quotes which I found especially useful in terms of mindfulness practice:
"...two studies widely reported a few weeks back: one suggested that, after the age of 25, every hour spent sitting watching TV knocks almost 22 minutes off your life – twice the impact of one cigarette. The other found that the average adult spends 50-70% of the day sitting down, with the most sedentary among us at vastly greater risk of disease and early death."
"It becomes easier to resist the siren call of the web and social media, for example, if you come to see "not being online" as the default state, and "being online" as the active, chosen one – something you sporadically choose to do, then stop doing. It's also the spirit behind the idea the productivity blogger Thanh Pham calls "clearing to neutral": the habit, after any activity, of clearing up the equipment involved – dirty pans, work files – so they're ready for next time. Gradually, tidiness becomes the default, mess the anomaly, and the good habit happens without thinking or effort. My latest experiment is a default bedtime of 10.30pm. I'm not sticking to it religiously, but that's not the point: it's what I revert to when there is no good reason to do otherwise."
There is even a mention of Dr Jon Kabat-Zinn and Mindfulness Meditation:
"This idea goes deeper: "adjusting your defaults" is one way that the meditation teacher Jon Kabat-Zinn defines the goal of mindfulness meditation. Being lost in thought is the default state for most of us; adjusting your defaults involves not ceasing to think, but rather making "present-moment awareness" the default, with thinking as the activity you choose to do when it's useful. He doesn't pretend this is easy. But it is a shift in perspective worth contemplating"

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