Meditation: The Key Defence against being a Consumer Attention Slave

How Attention Hacking Makes You A Consumer Slave

Swami Swaram

Attention Hacking and Meditation

We live in the attention economy. Companies buy and sell human time. Your attention is gold and whether you are aware of it or not, there is a big fight for it. You are chronically exposed to advertisements, announcements, publicity, news, social media feed, and irresistible promises of free gifts. Every app you download on your phone is a business plan you invite in your life. You are under attack.

Companies dictate your future spending behaviour

Big companies hire experts, pick the best brains available and invest in research to refine their strategies. They are fiercely fighting for your eye ball. And once they catch you, they trigger in your brain noradrenaline and dopamine, hormones which enhance focus and excitement. The result? You buy their products. You feel kind of compelled to buy and you do not even realise it. Companies do not want you to think, they want you to buy. They appeal to your reptilian brain bypassing altogether your pre-frontal cortex. They use sophisticated algorithms to analyse your past behaviour not just to predict your future behaviour, but to influence and determine it.

Hyper-vigilance is stressful

This is not just bad for your pocket; the worst thing is: it generates chronic stress. A state of hyper-vigilance and sympathetic nervous system activation, is associated with elevated cortisol level. As you might know, cortisol is the stress hormone. It has been proven that chronic high level of cortisol, literally makes you fat and stupid by atrophying your hippocampus, and by accumulating fat storage around your belly.

How to protect yourself

Now this is a pretty heinous scenario. So what can you do to protect yourself from the attention suckers? The best advice I can give you is: become aware of it. Do not take this for granted. We are so immersed in the game that it is far too easy to go unconscious and forgetful. You need to consciously protect ourselves. Here are few practical actions you can implement straight away that will save you tons of energy:

  • Scale down on social media
  • Check your phone only when necessary
  • Do not ready free papers on public transport. Best is to listen to your favourite music, or a podcast. Or even better be silent and practice awareness
  • Do not look at the flashy advs on the escalator when you emerge from the tube
  • When walking on the street avoid being distracted by images and advs. Better keep focused on what matters to you most in that moment

Meditation is the key

Apart from the above, the most effective strategy of all to protect yourself is meditation. Why? Because during meditation you shut down your links with the external world. You disengage your senses and naturally the energy that normally goes outwards is diverted inside. During meditation, you do not allow intruders to hack your attention. In addition, as you progress in your meditation practice, you will be able to generate abundant energy. Slowly the mind calms down and in those gaps of utter silence, your whole body/mind is recharged with clean, pure, fresh energy. And even more exciting, you can learn how to direct this new energy for healing, repairing, rejuvenation and creativity.

Let’s recap

  • become aware of attention suckers
  • take practical action to protect yourself during your daily life
  • meditate and grow your energy inside

If you follow these simple set of advices,  you will feel like a new person: energetic, lively, vibrant and ultimately happy. And you will be richer: you will stop buying lots of unnecessary things!

This article appears with permission from Swami Swaram, and first appeared on his blog at his website’s London organisation,  which is:

  LOVE OSHO – Active Meditation in London

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45 Responses to Meditation: The Key Defence against being a Consumer Attention Slave

  1. When generals fall asleep, soldiers march forward!

    • Kavita says:

      Shantam, if I were still on facebook now & this was on your wall I would ‘superlike’ it (wondering if fb’s got ‘superlike’ facility)!

  2. madhu dagmar frantzen says:

    I´m really wondering, what you two, Shantam I Singh and then Kavita, are up to in your comments to the topic string here?

    What I read here are a few considerable suggestions to come to one´s senses in an informative, manipulative, overloaded world and a website´s offer/advert for a London centre , to ´go´ for that.

    Doesn´t Chetna, whom I remember as a contributor here temporarily runs this London Meditation Centre with Swaram as well?

    Simply don´t get it, what do you want to say with your comments?

    Madhu

  3. Kavita says:

    Madhu, if you insist, this post, if you read it, has a list of rules. I guess mostly all Osho sannyasins I know, including me, are basically allergic to such. Rest you decipher!

    • madhu dagmar frantzen says:

      Kavita, where you saw ´rules´, I saw suggestions and a deep concern for a healthy dealing with everyday challenges; challenges which indeed exist. With my questions I seem to have touched a (for me) invisible plot which thickens and calls reactions like from a hornets’ nest.

      Btw, the Beauty of the Master, in my eyes, was never to preach rebelliousness just for rebelliousness’s sake, but recommending to find out where we lost our dignity by ending unconsciously in a ´filter bubble´, as that is very precisely called Today.

      At any time – inside as outside the sannyas realms – have been collective ´filter bubbles´, but ´Information Age´ and its very technical means and measures and its anonymous character provide us with new challenges. The challenge not to be taken hostage – mentally, emotionally, spiritually and – in the end – also physically.
      The topic here tries to take account of this, nothing more and nothing less. In my eyes.

      Madhu

      • Kavita says:

        Madhu, thanx for sharing.

        I can relate to “the Beauty of the Master, in my eyes, was never to preach rebelliousness just for rebelliousness’s sake”.

  4. Arpana says:

    Definitely not for all of us.

    “for most of us, the phone is the most stressful thing in our life — and I love the paradox in that, the irony. The phone’s a piece of plastic, a piece of metal, a piece of glass. It’s not good or bad…We define the relationship with the phone. I love the idea that the phone can actually serve up something really good, that’s good for our health.”

    https://goo.gl/XnV5aV

  5. Arpana says:

    I did read this article, but it means nothing to me. I have a phone but certainly don’t feel a slave to it, Sannyas News being my only social media site.

    But I do wonder if this guy is unconsciously talking about his own smartphone addiction, and this is actually projection.

    This kind if talk is also ‘received wisdom’. Same social panic happened about television at one time, and I believe Plato disapproved of books and young people, and there was a lot of horror around at the popularity of novels at one time.

    All that buggering about with smartphones looks to me like mammalian grooming, a 21st century version of monkeys checking each other for ticks, and strengthening social bonds.

    • Kavita says:

      Arps, frankly, me too, Sannyas News is also my only social media site now. There was a time when I thoroughly enjoyed Facebook, in fact I had learned using the computer in the early 1990s while working & learned to surf the net first through Facebook but realised somehow that is not what I would like to do for the rest of my life.

      Somehow I think it has to be ones own realisation for something to drop on its own.

      I also know I have been addicted to SN since many years, besides breathing, eating etc., so addiction if it is, be it, till it lasts!

      • Arpana says:

        Some high quality interaction goes on here, eh, Kavita? :)

        Some wisdom, wit, insightfulness, good humour; alongside the friction, babyish flouncing, judging, manipulativeness, whining and carping and nagging; and the big-headedness.

        Remarkably engaging with its roses and thorns.

        Get a lot out of Sannyas news.

      • frank says:

        What is being discussed here is basically how to deal with addiction/compulsion.

        The way to stop doing stuff that you know is bad for you is to stop doing it! Easier said than done, often, of course.

        Ultimately, you eventually have to find stuff to do that is more interesting than the addiction/compulsion. “Growing your energy inside” is too vague.

        Lots of stuff can help. You could write poetry, write a diary, sing songs, paint, garden, chat to people, play guitar, do knitting, invent Kabbalistic systems, play sport, walk, run, swim, read a good book, or even post on SN(!) etc. etc. etc.

        The idea of meditating with the express aim of trying to “prevent intruders hacking into your space” has a smack of desperation about it.

        I wonder how successful the proponent of this approach has been in repelling the marauding barbarians of cyberspace from his own front gates and frontal lobes?!

        • Arpana says:

          Frank,
          I have on occasions wondered if I have an addictive personality (if there is such a thing) and I have resolved my life difficulties by becoming addicted to making art, writing and journal keeping, meditating, spending time alone, all connected to a self-structured life that leaves space for spontaneous action, a way of life that reduces tools to tools, rather than badges of identity.

          • frank says:

            Arps,
            I wouldn`t agonize too much about having an addictive personality from writing journals etc.

            When you wake up in a wheelie bin surrounded by empty bottles of Thunderbird and cans of Tennants Super, or in a crack house checking the sores on your leg, or in a lock-up cell and you can`t remember how you got there.

            That`s when to start worrying!

            • Arpana says:

              It’s true, Frank.

              My sense of perspective is a bit out – well, a lot really on occasions.

              I unfortunately went to a grammar school, and anything less than 90% was treated as a sign of impending lifelong depravity and non-Christianity.

            • Arpana says:

              @ Frank

              Thom Gunn: A moment with a homeless man in ‘Office Hours’:

              First saw him
              on the street in front, in the
              bar’s garbage, identifying
              unfinished beers and swigging
              what was left of them.

        • Kavita says:

          “The idea of meditating with the express aim of trying to “prevent intruders hacking into your space” has a smack of desperation about it.

          I wonder how successful the proponent of this approach has been in repelling the marauding barbarians of cyberspace from his own front gates and frontal lobes?!”

          Frank, you leave me speechless. Thank God I am left with energy to click the keyboard!

        • madhu dagmar frantzen says:

          “The idea of meditating with the express aim of trying to “prevent intruders hacking into your space” has a smack of desperation about it.” (Frank)

          Yes Frank, true, it is utterly futile to have such an ´idea´, more so – as we have crossed for quite a while meanwhile pretty much any borderline(s) – if one is blissfully unaware of it. Or not.

          Father Darwin just gets an update these very last decades – also concerning the human brain´s equipment, as Lokesh rightly shares with us (about his grandson) ending then: “What do we know?”

          Stuff I came to know on an experiential level is that some of the synapses busy in former times with ´empathy´ or ´compassion´, having been rooted in the body/ies, go through a major change too – to put it nicely (underestimate it) – if not to say disappeared (temporarily?) from functioning, to be replaced by survival mechanisms of one or another kind.

          You recommend (only sometimes…) to look at life situations, which could be much worse, don´t you?
          Still the looking outside and comparing. Sometimes of a very temporary help, I´d say; to end up often in the same ditch.

          Yes, we´re going through major changes.

          But as you said: “The Roses and the Thorns”…

          Only by cloning and genetic engineering you can have the one without the other. (It’s already done, also the flavour is lost in this case(s)).

          Madhu

  6. Lack of Interest in life?
    Wife remains unhappy in bed?
    Or Wife has no interest in marital bliss?

    Don´t worry, Be Happy.
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    Effect within 7 days.
    Contact:
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  7. Lokesh says:

    I find this article pedestrian. Maybe because the last time I looked at my mobile was some weeks back.

    The guy draws the following conclusion:
    “You will feel like a new person: energetic, lively, vibrant and ultimately happy. And you will be richer: you will stop buying lots of unnecessary things!”

    What, like the world was a happier place before mobile phone technology, that people did not buy unnecessary things back in the good old days? Yes, life was fantastic during World War 2.

    WARNING: “Do not look at the flashy ads on the escalator when you emerge from the tube.”
    Obviously the ideas are drawn from an urban lifestyle.

    An article for the plodders to meditate on. A bit like one of the flashy ads the tube-ites are being brainwashed by.

    My 12 year-old grandson is hooked on his iPhone 6. It is a bit weird. Yesterday we were playing Texas Hold Em while he was simultaneously playing Scrabble on his phone. In the grande finale he won the jackpot with a full house in Five Card Draw. He was really chuffed about it. He is a very happy lad, funny, great football player and top of his class at school. A great all-rounder. Probably right now he is on Whatsapp with his mates.

    Let the children play. Maybe being good on a smartphone will come in handy in the crazy world that us lot have left him as an inheritance. Really, what do we know?

    • kusum says:

      We live in the age of Technology. We find smarter ways to do things through technology. Almost all businesses are done through internet. Mostly we read books electronically. We receive mails electronically. Shopping is done electronically. One phone-call can save one’s life even. And also some people need retail therapy too. Shopping can be fun too.

      • Lokesh says:

        A lot of salient points delivered by Kusum, that I am sure most of you have never bothered to think about. Silly Billys!
        As Kusum points out most of us read electronically. He is, of course, perfectly correct. I do not know where I would be without my reading light. In the dark probably. So good to be reminded of such important matters.
        The thing about Kindle is you no longer need a bedside lamp to read it. His blessings…

  8. satchit says:

    The author has forgotten something:
    The companies don’t suck only attention.
    They also want to sell something: happiness.

    The same that the author also wants to sell:
    “You will feel like a new person: energetic, lively, vibrant and ultimately happy.”
    I wonder how it would be then when, “at the flashy ads on the escalator when you emerge from the tube”, you can read:

    “Osho Active Meditation can help you perform better in real life, and improve your health & well-being.”

    Something you can find on his blog.

  9. Tan says:

    Funny thing is, the enlightened guys say meditation is the key for everything, like:
    Enlightenment, health, spiritual life, awareness, stress and everything else.
    So, what is news or new?

    Osho hammered meditation on us, all the time, as far as I remember, say forty years ago? If you look around, nowadays, Mindfulness and other ‘kinds’ of meditations are everywhere, in ads like this one on the string, buses, community centres, etc…

    So, what went wrong? Why we don’t get it?

    Cheers!

    • Arpana says:

      Tan,
      Maybe we got it but don’t know we got it, because we think it’s something else, rather than this.

    • Arpana says:

      Osho said,

      You can not and will not all become enlightened, but you can all grow in awareness.

    • madhu dagmar frantzen says:

      Guess HE would say that nothing went wrong, Tan.

      But I´m responding to your comment, as you inspired me to look into an old Darshan Diary (October 12th – November 7th, 1976) and its iitle is: ‘GOD IS NOT FOR SALE’.

      Just a tiny piece of the huge mandala of Living being painted – already long, long ago – disappearing down into the rivers of Life. And what a beautiful (encouraging) title is that, don´t you feel that too?

      And thank you for that inspiration, Tan.

      Madhu

    • Tan says:

      Thanks, Arps and Madhu, and maybe you guys are right.

      After all these years, I only know that I am not the body or the mind, I am only the witness which can not be manipulated by science or any external factor. It is like I still am on the abc. So what, isn’t it? XXX

      • madhu dagmar frantzen says:

        Dear Tan, you write: “It is like I still am on the abc.”

        And so are we, Tan.

        Not so easy to confer what I really love about these your words.
        I could kind of quote ´ZEN mind – Beginner´s mind´, knowing that (also) this has become kind of overused, not unlike so much else…

        Anyway – Be well – wherever you are – and have a beautiful day!

        Madhu

      • Arpana says:

        We are all works in progress, Tan (well, not Kusum, Shantam and Lokesh, obviously, they are way past that) and f*****g awesome with it. ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)

        MOD:
        PLEASE TRANSLATE THE SYMBOLS, Arpana!

  10. Just yesterday, when I asked for magazines box in fitness and wellness studio, the widely read ‘Stern’ has meditation as the cover story. I was a bit surprised but not so much, as in the railway stalls I have seen almost every week one or another magazine having benefits of meditation as cover print story.

    If it is in Germany, I can imagine, in almost all the developed nations, after Yoga, Meditation has become part of daily life.

    What makes me contented is that meditation has gone beyond the grips of Indian cult leaders as well as cult kiosks run by returned from India western seekers turned seers.

    Almost all the fitness centres offer Yoga and Meditation in their daily schedules. So in a way, meditation has become a product without any emotional attachment with the instructor or master.

    It is good and also no good.

    • Why Meditation without emotional involvement with some master is good and also no good?

      Meditation has given too much power to masters down the ages. They have enjoyed it and many times misused it thoroughly. India is full with such charlatans.

      Not only pop singers but meditation teachers too get an equal chance to pick best flower as their companion.

      Meditation can be used easily as a tool of power, so it is very good that meditation is becoming free from the surrender element.

      The not so good side is meditation without surrender to some higher, without prayer, without accepting human helplessness, becomes very much ego-strengthening exercise.

      ‘Stern’´s cover story has title with similar intention: “Strong Through Meditation.”

      • frank says:

        Nobody has ever done meditation to become weaker!

        Even if the aim is to be more humble, more surrendered, more egoless – there is always the idea that “I will be better.”

        • frank says:

          As a result:`
          Anyone who denies that should fire up the old bullshit detector big time.

          Herein lies the mind-boggling mendacity that seems to go hand-in-hand with the so-called spiritual world.

          The idea that the presence of a master stops the disciples from being egotistical in ever more complicated and roundabout ways seems somewhat unsupported by empirical evidence!

          “My master is better than your master, my yoga is faster than your yoga, you have more ego than me, I am more mindless than you”,
          etc etc.

          Good entertainment, tho` in a slapstick/bananaskin type way.

          • Arpana says:

            Frank, (This is not a dig. Obviously, being me, it could be, but in this instance not. Cross my heart and hope to die).

            Isn’t this ego as well?

            Seems to me we just have to shrug and say it’s all ego, what the hell, stop worrying about it, otherwise you develop an ego about not having an ego; and get on with it.

            MOD:
            POST EDITED.

            • frank says:

              Arps,
              It`s probably better to have an ego about something that is verifiable, like carpentry, plumbing, playing guitar or sport, because having an ego about being spiritual depends on the most dubious of all consensus realities and is so easily faked (see religion/spirituality).

              • Arpana says:

                Frank,
                Yes, no arguing with that.

                Get the impression Picasso was enormously egotistical, but he had actually developed his ”big ‘ead” because of all those years of hands-on work, along with the acclaim. Personally, I think he’s done some amazing work, and particularly admire his restless creativity and productivity for all those years. (He painted up until three days before he died at 96).

                (I discovered ‘Lord of the Rings’ when I was thirteen, and f*****g hated it when the book became popular; and realised years later was because I had such a big head about having read it.

                Further to that, a friend of mine nearly brained me when I told him I had read ‘Ulysses’, because he up until then believed only he had. Bit freaky at the time as well. Murderous glint in his eye).

                • satchit says:

                  Still discussing “egos”? I thought they had died with the orange clothes, somebody said.

                  Who spoke: “A total ego is egoless”? Funny.

          • Kavita says:

            Either way it’s a slapstick. Perhaps accepting the disciple/master funda* is itself the beginning of the “I will be better”, which is the only way to justify one’s existence!

            Irony is we realise all of this after there is no chance of any return!

            *funda – sheath (Hindi)

      • satchit says:

        Shantam, this is not meditation.

        This is just a technique, a tool, to deal better with stress in the world of business and work.

        Meditation, by its very definition, cannot be a means for some purpose. Ask Osho! There is only meditation for meditation’s sake.

  11. Bong says:

    I like it. I recommend at least one year without a cellphone and three weeks of solitary meditation (Mystic Rose or whatnot) to kick things off.

  12. sw. veet (francesco) says:

    An invitation to awareness, perhaps somewhat naive, which aroused many snobbish reactions.

    Multinational corporations, that have an interest in finding algorithms in consumer behaviour, can only be happy with those who many years ago experienced a glorious free period from their stereotyped responses, which since then they claim to have transcended forever.

    Ciao,

    VF

  13. Kavita says:

    I really enjoy this site and mostly when I do converse with my sannyasin friends, which is rare, I invariably end up mentioning some SN topic while sharing, and realise they aren’t as amused as I am.

    Probably the quality, like mostly all that one perceives, is in the eyes of the beholder!

  14. Kavita, as I know, many of your/my sannyasin friends hardly read anything other than whatsapp jokes. Moreover, their English is not as rich as yours.

  15. Kavita says:

    Shantam, you mean to say our friends would read SN and also participate? Forget it, they have other priorities, they have to grow their grass; we two are the lucky ones who can afford to watch it grow by itself!

    Why don’t you start a Hindi SN?!!!!!