How to Avoid Mindfulness Overload

There is a lot of information about the benefits of meditation and mindfulness for kids, adults, teens and everyone else. I believe meditation is an amazing tool. I also believe mindfulness is an amazing way to experience life. However….


I probably have better than 100 different articles on mindfulness and meditation. And these are just the ones that I find at least potentially useful. The number of articles and posts that I skip, or partially read and then move past are probably in the thousands every month. Filtering out the stuff that fits you from the stuff that doesn’t is tricky.


I find it humorous that with the flood of information coming at me on this topic that trying to drink it all in ironically has the opposite effect. I actually become less mindful. So how do I go about learning new things, experiencing new ideas and not get washed away in a sea of digital data overload?


Would you laugh if I said ‘mindfulness?’ Laugh if you must, but it’s true. Here’s how I apply mindfulness to avoiding mindfulness overload (yes, I too am shaking my head at that last sentence). Just know that this requires three things, strategy, practice and most important of all, patience.


Mindfulness Overload Avoidance Plan (Strategy):mentorsignpost

The overall strategy is pretty straight forward. Develop a system by which you can filter out content (email, web, magazines, etc.) that isn’t going to be helpful to you and that won’t become a full time job. See, straight forward.


There are lots of ways in which you can accomplish this. Here are some steps from my strategy.

  1. Watch what your like-minded friends repost. If they are on a similar path as you, what works for them might have some value for you as well.
  2. Whenever I read an article, I take note of where it came from (Elephant, DoYoga, Intentional Mindfulness, MyYoga, MindBodyGreen, etc.) and if I see multiple posts/articles of interest, I bookmark the publishing site and let it sit for a week or so.
  3. About once a week I look at my new bookmarks to see if any of them jump out as being memorable. If it’s not memorable or I want to check and it doesn’t resonate as well the second time, it gets deleted. If it still resonates, I move the publishing site to my list.
  4. I then work through my list to see what new tidbits are available.
  5. For places where I have to sign up with email, I give a throw away email address to get access. If and only if I find value, will I go back and sign up with a real email so I can get the content. Otherwise, it just gets black-holed in that other email. I rotate throw away email accounts about every 4-6 months.


Implementing Your Overload Avoidance Strategy (Practice):

Photo courtesy of John Morgan

Photo courtesy of John Morgan

So that was a little taste of what I do on a practical level. Now the tricky part, maintaining the mindfulness condition while doing it, and for me, it takes practice, lots of practice. I like to set aside time to go through and read the stuff that has come in, or the new links I’ve set. This works for me because I really do enjoy the process, you’ll have to experiment to find what works for you.


No matter your strategy, the key is going to be consistently applying it to the information coming at you. If you see a headline that really catches your eye, stop, breathe and take moment to ask yourself why this speaks to you this much at that moment. And using that awareness, choose whether or not to click now, or run it through your process.


And to be clear, there are going to be headlines and/or articles that catch your attention and you just want to click now and devour the information that is shared. That’s great. This isn’t meant to discourage that, but to offer some tools to help manage that reaction and not start feeling overwhelmed by all the information coming at you.


Patience:buddha statue

Chasing those headlines down the proverbial rabbit hole is easy to do, at least for me. When I find myself losing time, I like to stop, breathe and consider what I want to choose to do next. Typically it is to put things back into my plan, but there are those times where I’m just onto something and I want to run it down now.


Both options are viable, as long as it is a matter of conscious choice. And that is the difference, making a conscious, mindful choice and not getting swept away. A friend of mine once said “drink a glass of wine, or drink a bottle, as long as it is *your* decision, it’s not wrong.” Mindfulness in action. As you head back into the electronic depths, I hope these tips were helpful and useful.




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