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  • Be Here Now

    OH, BEHAVE! Keeping Manners In Mind
    by Annet King

    In more polite times, formal social invitations would begin, “Your presence is requested.” This idea of being fully “present” and being genuinely engaged is the essence of good manners.

    But, we have so many digital distractions today that our attentions are often fragmented. This makes our social interactions less nuanced, and contributes to our becoming more simply rude. Our unbroken electronic connection to diverse social media might suggest that this makes us MORE present, but the converse may also be true.

    When we are so wired into our own private universe, we tend to disengage from the presence of others. And this is the beginning of incredibly bad manners.

    For instance, cell-phones are incredible technological achievements, but far too many people overestimate their powers. Note: a cell-phone does NOT encase you in a sound-proof cone of silence. And when you’re in a public place, especially the waiting room of a skin care center, you’re not in your personal space just because you’re talking on the phone. You’re in a shared space. We can HEAR you! Including far too many conversations which really should remain private. (By the way, no, do NOT call him just because you’re feeling insecure about the relationship going nowhere. Go climb a mountain or learn a foreign language instead.)

    I’m in favor of all of us making a conscious attempt to move away from electronic distractions in order to give the present moment our full attention. This applies to many areas of our digitized lives, as we interrupt our family dinners to check email, and surreptitiously text and tweet our way through meetings.

    Multitasking is an important skill, but we also are enriched when we can be still, and totally “here”, giving our full concentration to whoever we are with, and whatever experience we are having. Imagine chatting while you’re having a skin care treatment or a massage. You’re only half-there! Or half-here, depending upon how you look at it.

    Buddhists, among others, speak of turning down the “noise” and “chatter” of the mind so that we may be fully present in each moment, and that this full presence leads to greater compassion. Step 1: Turn off the literal chatter and the literal noise as often as we can.

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