My good friend shared another piece that so wholly expresses our modern day pressures, and how taking a moment to check yourself and your mindset is something we all need to do (please, read below). The next time you’re in traffic, waiting in line, or even trying to get chores done while your child rattles on and on about frogs, take a deep breath and go analog. Thank you, Helena!
Growing up without Internet, without cell phones, and without immediate gratification so easily available in every possible way was something that provided me both freedom and inexperience. When I arrived at my very large, very liberal, very loud-mouthed university I became very aware of what little I knew.
At that point the World Wide Web was in its newborn infancy and it was amazing. I could read any journal publication I wanted, easily connect with people who lived halfway across the world, and the promises of things to come were so new and exciting only good could come of them. Analog was a thing of the past.
It feels like the last few years have been a continuous dive into the consequences of today’s modern life – constant feeds of propaganda, devices that record our every thought, and most recently robots that kill. My children have a lot more to contemplate and stress about than I ever dreamed of at their age.
But it’s not all bad. We’re more aware and involved. In the 1980’s soda and dried out chocolate chip cookies that were presented in plastic sleeves were the healthy afterschool snack of choice. Everything could be microwaved, in plastic, and eaten for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Latchkey was the norm and the bus dropped you off at some random spot possibly near your house, but you definitely had to hoof it home, rain or snow. No adult knew what the heck you did from 3:00 until dinner, but it probably involved MTV, soap operas, and sugary cereal, or you and your neighbor friend making prank calls to the boys you liked. Either way, none of us were up to any good.
We now seem to be in a place on the opposite side of the pendulum. Helicopter moms tracking their teenage child’s every move, afterschool schedules booked so solid babies are having anxiety attacks, and nonstop screen time is causing a new form of nearsightedness (not to mention a new level of radiation exposure). But there’s promise. Resistance.
Who ever thought homesteading like Ma and Pa Ingalls would be a logical lifestyle choice? Far from the industrial revolution and canned goods explosion, Farm to Table is ever increasing by popular demand. And near and dear to my heart, I never, ever thought we’d have influence over the tobacco or meat industry, yet we did. Knowledge is power. In middle school, my science teacher told us, “Believe none of what you hear, a quarter of what you read, and only half of what you see.” How true that is in today’s world. If you walk away with only a quarter of this discourse, let it be analog.
Much love and happiness,
Going Analog: How to make your brain stronger
By Helena Sweet
While visiting an old friend in Cambridge a few weekends ago, I stood with a coffee shop full of people simply waiting for the sake of waiting. The model, a budding one for the city, is all about analog coffee. Coffee slowly ground and brewed individually for you. This process, in theory, is supposed to produce the best flavor with the side effect of appreciating the details.
But I had no idea what I had walked into. Five minutes prior, I had sent my daughters and husband to the car and told them I’d be back before they had their seat belts on. Standing there in the shop as the details of the process sunk in, I began to panic. What had I done? How do I escape? Why am I so angry at this sweet woman making my coffee and smiling at me?
My lizard brain took over. During my mindfulness training we often talked about the awful and sometimes useful lizard part of the brain, the amygdala. This is the part of the brain, located near the brain stem, which we as humans turn to for quick, reactive decisions. For instance… look there is a tiger. Run. Or more modern day, to swerve on the highway when we have been cut off. The amygdala is great for fight or flight situations. It is a terrible place to revert to, however for rational decision-making.
Enter frontal lobe. The frontal cortex, the space behind the forehead, is our reasoning center. Here is where our brain weighs the pros and cons of a decision and makes rational choices. But what does this have to do with coffee? The more we practice using a skill the better we are at it. The same thing is true about our brains. The more we practice slowing down, the more our brain will. When we utilize our frontal lobe, the more rational we will become.
So waiting for this coffee was good for my brain? As little I wanted to admit it, yes. This ritual of coffee making was putting me through the process of slowing down and noticing. Noticing my reactions. Noticing the people in the room. It became more than just a cup of coffee. So in the end I walked out with my cup and a little more appreciation for going analog.