April 23, 2009 / 6:31 PM / 8 years ago

Zen and the art of emailing

<p>Tom Skidmore, who was laid off in December from his sales career with Nortel, checks his Blackberry during a "job club" at the Prince of Peace Catholic Church in Olathe, Kansas February 25, 2009. REUTERS/Dave Kaup (UNITED STATES)</p>

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Millions of Americans at this very moment are on online, scrolling, reading and typing at their computers.

Many more are receiving and sending emails or text messages via cell phones and BlackBerries.

But despite all this activity, most of these people are getting very little done, says stress-reduction expert Soren Gordhamer in his book “Wisdom 2.0 - Ancient Secrets for the Creative & Constantly Connected” (HarperOne, $14.99).

While people constantly update their Facebook pages and co-workers sitting just feet apart communicate on Twitter, Gordhamer contends that this widespread of use of technology is actually making the United States less connected and creative than ever.

One of the key messages in the book is that there is something missing in the lives of millions of anxious techno-users across the country.

“The something that is missing is not more tools or technologies, but the state of our consciousness,” Gordhamer writes. “It is the lack of connection to the place inside us of ease and focus -- the creative mind.”

But while some people turn to technology to fill a void, Gordhamer says it has also has become one of the biggest sources of stress for the average American, with the Internet providing a particular challenge.

In one of the studies noted in the book, figures by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Service show a growing number of workers reporting more on-the-job stress. In another privately funded international study, two out of three respondents associated information overload with loss of job satisfaction.

”We can now spend all of our waking life connected to technology,“ he writes. ”This is both great and terrible.

“It is great because no matter if we are a morning or an evening person, the Internet is available. However, this is terrible because there is really no time we consider not going online.”

The average person sits at a computer for several hours a day and uses e-mail more than 50 times and instant messaging 70 times. And if the person interrupted by email happens to be at work, it will take 16 minutes and 33 seconds on average to get back to what he or she was doing previously, according to the book.

But avoiding technology is not the answer, Gordhamer writes. Instead, he presents ways to regain control of it.

“The trick is to be ‘consciously’ rather than ‘constantly’ connected,” according to the book.

Gordhamer, who teaches stress-reduction techniques to individuals and groups, suggests that readers incorporate Eastern meditative practices to help ease the frantic anxiety produced by the high-speed techno-culture.

Using many Zen Buddhist and Sufi parables, the book recommends a “middle way” approach for the modern worker, with a range of activities like breathing exercises and five-minute meditations to increase focus and awareness.

There’s even a session on insomnia and a quick guide for “mindfulness” emailing, in which readers are advised to sit upright, take deep breaths and slow the pace of communication, or delay sending the message for a day or two.

“Every time we look inward to our level of presence,” Gordhamer writes, “we are shifting from the habitual and unconscious to the creative and conscious.”

Reporting by Vivianne Rodrigues; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn

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