Kind Kindred : Gwen Bell

Happy Tuesday to all of you! We are running this week’s Kind Kindred post today because of our awesome announcement yesterday, again, thank you for all your support! Today we are welcoming Gwen Bell into our tribe! She talks of unplugging as a way to be kind to yourself, which I find is essential for both my creativity & well-being! Thank you so much for sharing this with us Gwen! Peace & Big Love to all of you!

invite to sound
invite to sound by Will Bragg
Mindfulness is Kindness

When was the last time found yourself mindlessly scrolling through applications on your phone? How about the last time you texted while stopped at a red light on your way to work? When was the last time you logged in to check email, without any pressing reason to check it?

Boredom, lack of energy, sadness. Sometimes all it takes is a stab of longing to want to validate ourselves by going online. We hop on to see who has replied to us on our favorite site. Who liked our status. In an attempt to validate our life experience, we check to see who knows we’ve had one.

First, Be Kind to Yourself

I find myself doing the same things. Earlier this year it got so bad I decided to make a change. Even though my work is primarily on the web, I decided to take some time off from the daily tech grind. I wanted to know what was underneath that urge to refresh. Refresh in the command-R sense of the word.

I logged out, unplugged and powered down. It was this act of kindness to myself that set the wheels in motion for a month long Digital Sabbatical.

In short, the sabbatical changed everything. It gave me new perspective on my habits and addictions. (And not just those of the tech variety.) I realized all the ways I was caving to social networking when what I really wanted was to turn inward. I saw for myself how my desire to constantly check in with others moved me further away from my own heart and practice.

Since taking that break I’ve been on a mission. It’s a mission to help others evaluate where they’re at with their online wellness. Whether it’s a mobile device or a laptop. Whether it’s for work or for play, our lack of awareness around our online behaviors deserves attention.

Mindfulness is kindness

Being aware of our habitual patterns helps free us from them. We think: ok, I’m bored right now. I would normally whip out my phone and scroll through tweets. How can I be with myself right now instead?

This morning in a conversation with a friend, I suggested this. That we sit with our boredom. That we get comfortable, confident even, with being bored. My friend looked aghast. She said, “Why would you do that? I tell my friends when they’re bored they have no excuse to be bored! We have so many distractions to choose from.”

And that’s my point. We can spend our lives effortlessly, mindlessly moving from distraction to distraction. Or, we can choose an alternative. We can choose to be kind to ourselves by choosing how we want to live our lives. Making conscious choices means we create our lives. Mindlessly thumbing through apps and checking out from our daily lives, we miss our daily lives.

Kindness is mindfulness

When we’re kind to ourselves – and mindful of our behaviors, habits and patterns – we can extend that kindness to all beings. It’s quietly thrilling.

We choose to leave our devices in our bags, focusing on our friend as she mourns the loss of her boyfriend. We stay present for a child whose stories he then learns to refine because he has a good listener in his life. We look the shopkeeper in her eye, rather than interacting with our phone.

We show others how to be kind to themselves when we are first kind to ourselves.

How do we start? Mindfulness is an act of kindness toward ourselves and others.

Kindness begins with choosing to place our awareness on that which matters most. We start where we’re at.

Listed as one of the Forbes 14 Power Women and Fast Company’s Most Influential Women in Tech, Gwen Bell spends her days discovering the humanity in technology. Gwen contributed a chapter on taking a Digital Sabbatical in Leo Babauta/Zen Habit’s newest book, Focus. She is owner of a yoga studio in Japan and The Mindfulist.

Gwen helps her clients get clarity around, align with and express their core message online. When not online, she teaches technologists how to unplug with Laptop Yoga. She delights in drinking espresso once a month, on the day she reviews her goals. Discover her at, or follow along with her daily adventures @gwenbell.


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