Technology is deeply embedded in our lives and we all know it’s getting worse. Mobile devices are so essential to our day-to-day functioning that it makes more sense to think of them as extensions of our brains rather than work tools or lifestyle accessories. But the backlash is definitely on. Experts, myself included, are increasingly sounding the alarm bells about how smartphones and social media are eroding our attention spans, mental health, relationships, and public discourse.

Research in psychology and neuroscience consistently demonstrates that being connected to others is one of the most important ingredients for health and well-being. The same can be said for being effective at work: being in tune with colleagues is essential for success.

Let’s face it: almost everything we do in life is tied to a habit. Life is simply too complex to think everything through. Could you imagine having to lay out explicit instructions on how to drive a car? Or cook a meal? Or walk? Or even breath? Thankfully, our brains automate these sequences, by creating habits, which free up mindspace for more interesting concerns like how to deal with a sticky problem at work or make our own lives happier or more meaningful.

I was first introduced to formal meditation practice in a Zen dojo in 1994. At the time, my life was chaotic and it would remain so for another 10 years. On several occasions over these ten years, I tried to build a regular meditation practice. Although I never managed more than meditating intermittently, I have no doubt that what little practice I did manage helped me. It helped me by giving me a direct experience of distancing from my thoughts. I had previously experienced what I thought as being a part of my essence, as what was defining me, and thus of the utmost importance.