Wisdom and Mindfulness in the Information Age

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Two weeks ago I attended the Wisdom2.0 conference, which is about “Exploring Living with Awareness, Wisdom, and Compassion in the Technology Age.” I thought it was a great conference and highly recommend it for next year. The theme seemed to be about how much we are constantly wired and digitally connected so how do we stay centered and connected to ourselves and our relationships.

Last night I attended a follow up, sponsored by ProjectFresh. Leaving the session last night I had the thought that in both instances I didn’t quite get what I was looking for in the sense of ‘things to do.’ However, on reflection I realized that it isn’t about ‘doing,’ but about how we choose to ‘be.’

I fully enjoyed all the panels and presentations in both events. It was the words of panelist Alex Lightman that sparked me to find an answer to some of the questions I had. He said that the most frequent decisions humans make is where to put your gaze. In other words, where to put your attention. He said that there is an illusion of information overload. If we define information as a ‘difference that makes a difference,’ the rest is just data. Based on this and on what I heard at Wisdom2.0, we have to develop filters for what is important. And we constantly make choices about what we attend to so we have to practice self-regulation. It isn't the technology that is the problem; it is how we choose to use it.

Lightman also said that you have to know yourself—know your perspective. Being fake accelerates death so you have to know what is integral to you. Music to my ears! That is what my work with type is all about. In my view, this self-knowledge can help us with the self-regulation needed to live with wisdom in this technology age.

I think technology is great. I’m glad we have it even though I get overwhelmed at times. Technology, like anything else, can be overused and be an excuse for being rude, procrastinating, avoiding self-reflection and relationships, and many other ills. So we have to use it with wisdom, in other words, be mindful.

Mindfulness practices come from ancient wisdoms and are supported by scientific research. It is used in stress reduction programs such as that at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. At the conference I learned that mindfulness programs are in place inside Google, Genentech and other large organizations. And I learned that mindfulness is not just about meditation, but also about other practices.

It occurred to me that typology models could help us know our strengths and what is integral to us so I agree with Lightman. And these models have the potential to contribute to mindfulness and they can also contribute to habits of mind that get in the way of mindfulness.

What are some of the ways that you use typology that contributes to mindfulness?

How can we be wise in the way we introduce and use typology and avoid the ways it gets in the way of mindfulness?

 

Comments

  1. Johanan Rakkav

    April 4, 2011

    Why is it, Linda, that whenever "ancient wisdoms" are brought up in contexts like these, the Bible is almost always left out, unconsidered? Here is part of a model I'm developing: Carl Jung had eight of the cognitive processes needed for full "mindfulness". Jesus of Nazareth had all nine. You'll find them in the Beatitudes: first the need for God's Holy Spirit, then the eight CPs in paired order (Si, Se, Ni, Ne, Fi, Fe, Ti, Te) and the spiritual lessons that one should learn from them.
    The ancient Hebrews had an understanding of temperament long before the Greeks thought of it; it's inherent in the Four Cherubic Faces (the idea, apparently, is that there is a cosmic and even metacosmic influence on temperament) and that concept shows up in the Eastern Churches with regard to the Four Gospels' perspectives on Jesus' work. And then there's your social styles model, filling out the mix: man as body, soul or animate life (mortal, not immortal), and spirit (temperament, interaction style, and cognitive dynamics in terms of behavior). The layout of the 16 Hebrew prophets, in canonical order, is consistent with an understanding of all of these three elements, which can be plotted in a chart  very much like your own coordination of these elements! In other words, each prophet had one of the 16 personality types and those types are laid out in a systematic order that takes all three elements you discuss into account.
    You can always drop me a line via the info on my profile if you're curious about why I say what I do here. Best wishes to you and those you teach and help. :)

    • Avatar of Linda Berens

      Linda Berens

      April 29, 2011

      Johanan, I didn’t expressly mention any of the ancient wisdoms and at the Wisdom 2.0 conference as well as in the Integral community, Christianity is seen as one of the wisdoms. In both of these contexts there is an understanding that there is no one truth, but many truths and we can learn from all of them. Different wisdoms speak to different people. At the conference I saw a demonstration of a new on-line platform for exploring these wisdoms, called Sacred Agent. Perhaps you’d find that an interesting approach. My understanding is that when they launched, there were so many responses that they had to shut down to upgrade their system to accommodate so many visitors.

      I can’t speak to the connections you see since I’m not an expert in those areas you mentioned and at the moment I have my hands too full to undertake a study in this area.

  2. David Hughey

    March 11, 2011

    Linda, in answer to your question, the main way mindfulness practice has brought new insight to typology for me is by allowing me to maintain close attention to what is happening with my mental functions.  Most mindfulness training puts emphasis on sensing, and for good reason, but I've found that the same clarity of mindfulness can be brought to the other functions.  For example, mindfulness helps me (INTJ)  appreciate the dynamic relationship between my Ni and Te in a way I hadn't before.

  3. Avatar of Linda Berens

    Linda Berens

    March 11, 2011

    David, thank you for your comment. During the conference I realized that I had brought my early experiences from yoga and meditation to my work with type even though I've not been regular with these practices. I think it is telling that one of the high level presenters at the conference who is responsible for the personal growth curriculum told me he doesn't use the MBTI® instrument even though it is used in the organization by others. When I said I was aiming to add mindfulness to how I teach other professionals to use typology, his eyes lit up.

    I'm interested in hearing how mindfulness brings new insight to typology for you. I think for me it hard to tease out which came first. For my type preferences, INTP, having a model of individual differences helped me step outside my own perspective and shift to take the perspectives of others. Yet, I think the yoga and meditation helped me be more open to my own type development.

  4. David Hughey

    March 11, 2011

    Linda – Your observations resonate with me.  I've practiced mindfulness development for many years.  I am fascinated by how typology understanding fosters mindfulness, and how mindfulness brings new insight to typology.  One of the ways typology supports my mindfulness development is by bringing awareness to the fact other people are often not the way I imagine them to be;  i.e., typology shines a light on assumptions that are otherwise difficult to be mindful of.

    • Avatar of Linda Berens

      Linda Berens

      March 12, 2011

      David, Yes, that is what I’m thinking happened with me as an INTP. I my own case, it was prepared childbirth that triggered me to be more mindful of my immediate body sensations. And I practiced every day relaxing some muscles while tightening others and even experiencing pain exerted by my husband. When my children were born, I was so fully aware of some aspects that I could self-regulate the response to the pain. Both Se and Si at play I think. Then I went to yoga and learned to focus even more. In my later yoga classes, we were taught many forms of meditation. I had the most difficulty with the Zen practices, which seemed Se to me. Always, I can get into a meditative state by progressive relaxation and focusing on my body, but not so by emptying my mind. Seems more Si to me. Now Pilates and Yoga help me stay more mindful and all of these have contributed to development of both extraverted and introverted Sensing for me.

      This awareness preceded my introduction to type and especially to type development. I think it had started me on a path of self-awareness that made me more open to development of Fe. And I too am often aware of what processes I’m using, except, of course when I get overly stressed and in the grip of one of them (usually Fi!).

      This sparks an idea for a research project, not that I need another project, but this one seems important to do. Once I’ve thought it through I’ll post about it.

      Thanks for entering the discussion. I hope others will chime in.

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