Category Archives: Mindfulness

Living a life of mindfulness involves a gentle inquiry into gratitude, simplicity, meditation, awareness, and using your curiosity and wonder to guide you.

Why I am Choosing to Email Slowly

I am by choice a slow emailer, and it often takes me a week or two to respond to messages.

Sometimes longer.

I think to myself, You do not really want me to be a fast emailer.

Why do you want me to email quickly?

Do you want me to sit at my desk, furiously batting away at the stream of messages, hitting zero on a game that never ends, wasting my time on little pieces of messages that might add up to little, when I could be making work that matters?

You do not want your doctor messaging you back in between the moments while she’s performing surgery.

There are exceptions, of course.

But far fewer than we think there are.

Just because it feels good does not make it necessary.

Emailing quickly makes us feel good (dopamine, what a drug!), but it also lets us avoid, just a little longer, the more pressing matters of our lives.

We are not obligated to respond to messages.

(Even though Cialdini’s reciprocity research suggests that we feel an obligation to do so.)

Too much email (or rapid-fire response times) can reduce our capacity in other areas.

A good friend of mine put his internet out from 8pm in the evenings until 3pm in the afternoons. He found he was getting crushing periods of anxiety and fatigue around mid-morning and mid-afternoon. After testing everything he could, he finally eliminated his morning email routine.

His energy cleared up. His focus returned. He started churning out articles and essays and writing his third book.

We are always training each other in how to respond and what to expect.

The danger of a fast email is that it trains the recipient in believing they can always grab your attention quickly, immediately. And when that happens, they’ll default to sending you more email, because you respond fast, and quickly. (And often, in my case, diligently.)

It does not always feel good to be a slow emailer. Sometimes I feel the things that people feel: guilt, shame, worry, insecurity. But then I realize when I email quickly, these feelings don’t necessarily go away. Instead, they multiple, and I miss out on other things that are more important to me.

Two questions to guide you in your own inquiry:

  • Is this necessary?
  • Is it truly urgent?

And a few more questions, if you’d like to go deeper:

  • How do I feel before, during, and after?
  • Am I aware of when I start and stop emailing?
  • What happens when I set a schedule for myself instead of checking randomly?

There’s a meditation teacher, Pema Chödron, who is heard to have a policy about speaking and teaching events that I recently heard (I have not confirmed this, but I like the idea of the anecdote): 

“If you need a response faster than it takes to reply by slow mail, then I am not for you.” 

Silence, Stillness, and Returning From Retreat

Last week I left to go to a four-day silent retreat up in the snowy rural woods of central Massachusetts. The retreat was long days of sitting and walking meditations, mindful eating, noble silence, and being in stillness. We were instructed not to journal or read, and we relinquished our cell phones and devices uponRead the article

Our Dying Attention is a Big Problem

Over the bulk of the last year, I’ve been focused on adding meditation, quality, and depth to my life in a meaningful way. That includes: rethinking my relationship to reading, and reading entire books, slowly. With notes. Deepening my ability to focus and pay attention. Putting parental controls on my technology to block social media. Today, I share a round-up of essays that have helped me. Here are 17 essays on attention, anxiety, being over-busy, and why our lack of recharge time is more problematic than we think.Read the article

In Search of Mental Focus and Clarity

Those of you that have followed my posts recently know I’m experimenting with my relationships to social media, email, and the internet. I love tech AND I also want to stay smart about my habits, impulsivity, and addictions. Because make no mistake: tech is an addiction, for sure. How do we achieve mental focus in the increasing onslaught of information? Get this: the average person checks email 74 times per day and spends 28% of their time on email. If we’re not questioning this, we should be concerned.Read the article

Suffering from Burnout? How to Know When to Rest or Push

Does your life plan account for enough rest? How do you know when you should push, and when you’re in burnout and deeply in need of a break? Here’s how to determine the difference.Read the article

Loving Yourself

A friend of mine is having a bit of a rough time right now and I sent her a note to check in. How’s it going, how are you feeling? One of the ways we exist for each other is to confirm and mirror experience. When we notice a friend or a colleague struggling, we canRead the article

50 Things That Make Me Happy

In the free series of writing prompts I put together, one of the prompts is to make a list of 50 things that make you happy. I love lists (they’re one of the things that makes me happy!), and I love using lists as a way to kick-start my writing. It’s not writing, it’s making aRead the article

Should You Worry Now Or Later?

There are so many unknowns coming ahead on the horizon: Will we have a baby that sleeps or a baby that cries non stop? Will I love being a mom or will it be an immense challenge? Will I bond with my kid right away or will it take time? Will breastfeeding be hard orRead the article

The Power of Silence: In Conversation, In Contemplation, In Being

I sometimes think that when I get sick, it’s because I’ve forgotten to listen. I’ve forgotten to listen internally, to my body. I’ve let it get too noisy and not gotten still enough to hear what’s going on. After a cold sets in, I realize that the chatter in my brain has gotten to excessivelyRead the article

Adding Gratitude Into Your Life

This week, while in the snowy mountains of Colorado, I felt called to open up Grace & Gratitude again for a winter session. We’ll begin December 4th and end December 20th. If you’d like to join us, sign up here. 2013. The plane was a few hundred feet from landing in my home state, and IRead the article