When I received an e-mail announcing the "Creating a Spiritually Inspired Future" event at the Urban Zen Center, with Arianna Huffington moderating a conversation between Deepak Chopra and Andrew Cohen, I immediately signed up and told all my friends about it. I am an ambassador of the heart -- a trained psychotherapist, social and political activist, and spiritual teacher -- and the opportunity to experience three great thinkers discussing a topic that has been at the core of my existence for the past several years excited and inspired me. Little did I know that attending that event would lead to an invitation to blog for The Huffington Post.
Over the past few years, I have been exploring new platforms from which to share life-changing tools that I have successfully integrated into my practice. My counseling work took an unusual turn when neuroscientists discovered that our brains, with the proper exercises, would rewire themselves. We can change practically any unhealthy behavior. Suddenly my clinical work made sense on a whole new level. When my clients practice the assignments I give them -- like writing 10 things they are grateful for each morning -- they are reinforcing and rewiring new pathways in their brains. After witnessing my clients' profound successes and achievements, I knew that I needed to get over my technophobia and find ways to use social media and technology as tools to help me reach people on a broader scale.
We are creatures of habit. Our daily routines -- what time we wake up or go to sleep; how much we eat; what we do when we get home at night -- provide us with the predictability and safety that we greatly seek. But these same habits also interfere with our abilities to change unwanted behaviors or learn new ones, because routines become unconscious and automatic. Most of us are well aware that it is quite hard to change our eating habits, money-spending patterns or our tendencies to procrastinate. Just moving around our morning routines can be challenging: Try to rearrange your order of showering, drinking coffee and dressing. You might be able to do it for a day or two, but quickly your system would bring you right back to your habit.
We also have hard-wired habits that affect how we feel about ourselves and the people around us. These pathways determine a lot about our personalities, how happy we are, how we get along with people and how adept we are in identifying and fulfilling our goals. However, these habits can also change, and we live in a pivotal age to realize healthy transformations. I have been facilitating these changes one-on-one, and I now clearly see our opportunity to use technology to help many, many more people.
During the Q-and-A following the "Creating a Spiritually Inspired Future" event at the Urban Zen Center, participants began discussing technology as a way to help advance human consciousness, to help us reconnect to ourselves. Coincidentally, I had just released such a tool in the form of an iPhone/iPad application called "Awareness." This app randomly intercepts the user's daily routine and asks, "What are you feeling right now?" This simple question reminds the person to redirect his or her attention inward. This concept struck a chord, and then a chorus, and ultimately led to this blog.
As technology becomes increasingly present in our lives, we are afforded tremendous opportunities to use it to help us rewire our brains and create new, healthy habits -- like less reactivity and more patience; less anxiety and more peacefulness; less anger and more compassion. Imagine the impact on our planet as more of us learn to check in with ourselves and move forward with understanding and purpose. Wouldn't it be great if you could program your personal computer or smartphone to know when you are most likely to be stressing over something so that a gentle reminder or inspirational quote would pop up at just the right time? As the technological systems we use become more and more integrated, we will be in a position to find even more ways to consider how we live our lives.
I will be using this blog as a platform not only to further discuss how we can better understand and change our brains, but to also explore the potential ways we can use technology to connect us back to ourselves and each other. I will be sharing what I have learned in my practice about what makes us humans tick, and the exciting breakthroughs in brain science that inspire us to change how we operate day to day. I believe that this dialog holds one of the keys to humanity's next level of evolution, and I look forward to exploring it with you!
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