Communication Overload: A Simple Technique

A guest post from Vlad Rapoport of Simpler Life Today.

At one time I worked for a big property management company. I clearly remember the anxiety creeping up inside me in the mornings as I made my way to the office.

The job involved dealing with people, which was great. Unfortunately, at the same time it meant getting inundated by loads of information coming at me from all directions.

I’m talking about a couple of phones, faxes, a cell phone and several email accounts… It was bad enough racing from one to another, but it was insane when they screamed for my attention all at once! I suppose the idea was to increase my productivity.

Ironically, the opposite result often occurred. Not only did it not make me more productive, but it often stressed me out to the point where I could not focus on anything. It made me feel sick. I was clearly a victim of information overload.

The noise overload

This overload, be it on the job, at home or elsewhere is responsible for contributing to our mental noise. It is present whenever we are within reach of the modern day communication technology.

The motto of “anything – anywhere – anytime” certainly has it’s place. The key is moderation. And when this moderation is exceeded, it takes us away from our inner peace, it prevents us from focusing on our goals, focusing on what truly matters.

It keeps us disconnected from the big picture and even from one another.

We must find our center, our stillness, our clarity. But what happens when we are unable to disconnect from the noise? What to do, when we have to deal with our responsibilities and deadlines?

I was fortunate enough to come across a simple breathing meditation technique that I will share with you here. It helped me to overcome the noise and eventually led me on a journey of self discovery resulting in finding out what was truly important in my life.

Simple breathing technique

1. If your time is limited, you may want to set a gentle alarm letting yourself know when the time is up. Find a quiet, preferably dark area where you will not be disturbed for a duration of your session.

Assume a comfortable position sitting down on a chair, your back perpendicular to the floor, without leaning back. Place your feet firmly on the floor and rest your arms on your knees with the palms up or down.

2. With your eyes closed, take a couple of deep breaths to help you relax. Now, breath normally. Gently bring your attention to the air moving in and out of your nose. Feel the cool air entering your nostrils, rising up through the nose passages on the inhale.

Don’t hold your breath. Feel the warm air moving down and out of your nose at exhale. You may keep your eyes focused at the point between your eyebrows if you like.

3. Continue keeping your attention on the breath. Never force your breathing but allow it to flow naturally in and out. Thoughts will rise in your mind. Gently acknowledge them and return your mind to the breath. Simply observe your breath, never forcing it.

The thoughts will come and go, but the breath will continue, calmly and peacefully. It may be helpful to mentally repeat “in” when breathing in and “out” as you breath out.

4. You may find that after a while, your breath will become slower and more shallow. This is natural and you should just let it happen. Allow yourself to let go of everything now, and to deeply merge with the breath.

Maintain this state as long as you wish. When the time is up, slowly get out of the state of meditation by taking a few deep breaths. Try to retain the calmness that you are experiencing. Bring this feeling with you back into your life.

Train your mind

The effectiveness of this method comes from training your mind to focus on just one thing – in this case, the breath. You may practice it as long as you'd like.

I would recommend starting for as little as five to ten minutes per day, and building your practice from there. Eventually, this meditation practice may be performed while sitting at your desk during a break, on the train or whenever you have some down time or need to center yourself.

This practice will also allow you to feel more peaceful and attuned to everything and everyone around you.

Vlad is a certified meditation instructor and spiritual counselor. He helps people to find their true purpose through a journey of self discovery and
encourages people to shed the nonessential. To determine what’s truly important in life. Visit his blog at Simpler Life Today.
Leo Babauta, Katie Tallo, and Barrie Davenport, creators of the Habit Course are starting a new session on October 3rd. I've created two new habits using the course! Check it out.
What is your favorite technique for centering yourself?

{ 22 comments… add one }

  • Cathy | Treatment Talk September 18, 2011, 10:14 pm

    Hi Vlad,

    Meditation is such a powerful tool to calm ourselves and help us to refocus. It’s easy to feel pulled in many different directions.Thanks for the reminder that we can stop, take a break and bring our attention to our breath at any time during the day.
    Cathy | Treatment Talk recently posted…Stay Close: An Interview with Libby CataldiMy Profile

    • Vlad - Simpler Life Today September 19, 2011, 9:43 am

      Hi Cathy,

      I am so glad you liked the post. Stillness and time to reflect are crucial. The trick is to catch yourself just when you need it most. I still have to remind myself to step back now and then! That’s why I try to incorporate reflection and meditation into my daily routine.

      Be well, Vlad

  • Daniel M. Wood September 19, 2011, 12:44 am

    Sometimes we really need to find a way to step back and relax, just a little. We are so pounded by information, by opportunities, problems and sounds.
    By relaxing, closing it off for a while you give your body a well needed rest.
    Daniel M. Wood recently posted…The 8 Step Guide to Creating a Good Weekly PlanMy Profile

    • Vlad - Simpler Life Today September 19, 2011, 9:57 am

      Hi Daniel,

      You’re absolutely right. I’ve had experience, coming back from “vacations” feeling tired and in need to rest! But just a bit of time to myself even in the middle of a busy week, would rejuvenate me and restore me back to sanity!

      Be well, Vlad

  • Marci | Liberating Choices September 19, 2011, 11:25 am

    I agree that more ways to reach me doesn’t make me more productive, just more distracted. We think we’re more “connected” but we aren’t.

    One of my favorite ways to get centered – sit outside, watch nature, it’s not in a hurry, it just is, still yet majestic.
    Marci | Liberating Choices recently posted…When Helping Hinders Child’s Wings From GrowingMy Profile

    • Tess The Bold Life September 20, 2011, 6:03 am

      I walked along side the ocean yesterday doing just that…thinking about
      ‘no hurry, no worry, it’s all good.’

  • Vlad - Simpler Life Today September 19, 2011, 12:43 pm

    Hi Marci,

    That’s a great point! Nature can teach us so much. It grounds us, keeps us in the moment. It offers us healing, and rewards us with incredible beauty. Being attuned to it can liberate us from ourselves!

    Take care, Vlad
    Vlad – Simpler Life Today recently posted…Why Forgiveness is Important to Your HealthMy Profile

  • Betsy at Zen Mama September 19, 2011, 7:55 pm

    Wonderful advice for so many of us who have let our busy lives take over. I’ll give your meditation techniques a try. And I’m heading over to your blog to check it out!
    Betsy at Zen Mama recently posted…Inspirational Movie MondayMy Profile

  • Vlad - Simpler Life Today September 19, 2011, 8:46 pm

    Hi Betsy,

    Thanks so much for the compliment on the post. This is a very effective breathing meditation technique, that I hope you enjoy. Please let me know if you have any questions! I’m looking forward to visiting your blog as well.

    Take care, Vlad
    Vlad – Simpler Life Today recently posted…Why Forgiveness is Important to Your HealthMy Profile

  • Jimmy/Life Architect September 20, 2011, 3:53 am

    Hi Vlad,

    The technique you described is the simple meditation technique that I have been trying for a while. Focusing on the breathe really does help, but I find that the added goodness of this method is tracking the path of the air coming in and out of our lungs. I get side tracked a lot while practicing this by thoughts. In order to handle these thoughts I actually kiss them goodbye with my breathe. It is actually quite fun interacting with my thoughts that way.

    Thank you for advocating this simple meditation exercise.

    Jimmy/Life Architect recently posted…25 Elementary Principles for Success in Life – Principle 24My Profile

  • Melody | Deliberate Receiving September 20, 2011, 6:44 am

    Excellent tips Vlad!
    Studies have shown that when we get interrupted a lot, our productivity plummets and stress levels rise. Taking the time to tune out the noise every day will really help us to cope with that onslaught. I use this breathing meditation myself and can only say that it seems deceptively simple, but will lead to powerful changes. People always thing meditation has be complicated or hard. It’s just focusing on one thing (preferably something that triggers no resistance) and holding that space. You can meditate while washing the dishes, or gardening, too. :)

    Thanks for this informative piece!

    Melody | Deliberate Receiving recently posted…Using The Law of Attraction To Get Over A BreakupMy Profile

    • Vlad | Simpler Life Today September 20, 2011, 5:07 pm

      Hi Melody,
      You make a great point! When we are present in the moment, just about anything can have a meditative effect on us. There is a a walking meditation technique that is part of the Mindfulness Meditation. Very effective, and combines meditation with an outdoor activity!

      Thank you! Vlad

  • Evelyn Lim September 20, 2011, 8:32 am

    Thank you for sharing how to go about with a simple breathing technique. It’s amazing how focusing on the breath can just clear our head. It’s really true that when clutter goes up, intelligence comes down. Sitting down quietly to meditate is helpful! Awesome advice!
    Evelyn Lim recently posted…Detect Daily Anxiety Symptoms To Avoid Energy LeakageMy Profile

    • Vlad | Simpler Life Today September 20, 2011, 7:03 pm

      Hi Evelyn,
      Glad you found the advice helpful! I can attest firsthand about my intelligence going down as the clutter and distractions mount. People talk of multitasking, when it’s the single-tasking that’s the most productive!

      Be well, Vlad

  • Emily September 20, 2011, 1:07 pm

    Taking a deep breath is helpful when you can’t “escape”, but ultimately, I need to somehow escape and not talk to anyone for a little while in order to rejuvenate and relax.
    Emily recently posted…Coconut Shortage, Or, Why Food Fads Can Be Dangerous To Your HealthMy Profile

  • Galen Pearl September 20, 2011, 6:59 pm

    My autistic son handled communication overload when he was young (which happened when I was using too many words to explain something) by holding up his hand and proclaiming, “Talking is over.” End of communication!
    Galen Pearl recently posted…I’m a Grandmother…and I’m Grateful!My Profile

    • Vlad | Simpler Life Today September 20, 2011, 7:07 pm

      Hi Galen,
      Your son got the right idea. We can all learn from him!

      Thank you for sharing! Vlad

  • Eric | Eden Journal September 21, 2011, 5:21 pm

    I do a similar breathing exercise several times a day, but I do it on the long walk to the restroom. I guess it’s like a walking meditation. I start with a good stretch after standing from my chair. Then I stand up straight as I walk so I can take good deep breaths. It’s a great way to recharge so that I can tackle the rest of the day.
    Eric | Eden Journal recently posted…Angry about ChangeMy Profile

  • Jt Clough | Big Island Dog September 23, 2011, 11:30 am

    I started going to yoga regularly about 5 months ago. Two times a week most of the time. It has carried over into my daily practice as well. When I find myself getting overwhelmed I do a few poses to loosen everything up, get the blood flowing, and I practice breathing.

    I’m simply amazed at how just a few moments of breath let all the buzz of the internet, the cell phone, the need to be producing can go away…. and a peaceful state with a clear mind returns.
    Jt Clough | Big Island Dog recently posted…This is Your LifeMy Profile

  • Noel September 24, 2011, 6:48 am

    When I feel overwhelmed with tons of work and the ever demanding clients’ phone calls, I often take a break, sit in the washroom – do nothing. I think the main point is just to leave the desk and chill out a bit. This works for me even it’s just for several minutes. Now you suggested another great way to relax, must try it out, thanks Vlad~

  • Vlad | Simpler Life Today September 24, 2011, 9:04 am

    Hi Noel,
    I’ve spent countless times in the washroom trying to relax. If you have the opportunity, try to go outside. Expose yourself to the sun for a few minutes and get some outdoor air in you. Find a peaceful spot, close your eyes and take some slow deep breaths. You’ll be in better shape to get back to your desk!

    Good luck!


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