Does this scenario sound familiar? You’re in a department meeting. As you lift your eyes to listen to the department chair, you look around the room and see that everyone has their eyes fixed on the screens of their electronic devices, with fingers busy typing, scrolling, or swiping. Two minutes later, your own phone buzzes to alert you about an incoming text message – and you can’t get your mind off of it. Clearly: everyone at this meeting is physically present, but where are their thoughts?

Now, picture yourself having a lively conversation with a friend over a meal. You’re literally seeing eye to eye as you share the recent events in your lives, all the while observing the excitement on one another’s faces. Instead of wolfing down your food — as you sometimes do between classes or meetings — you’re able to enjoy each bite. Your smartphone is tucked away in your pocket or purse. Nothing distracts you — except perhaps a loud discussion at the next table over.

Which of these situations is more likely to bring about creativity, connection, and new ideas? In which case do you think the people involved felt truly heard? If you said the latter, you are likely familiar with the importance of mindfulness in our everyday lives.

Yet living mindfully requires intentionality – and at a time when so many forces cry out for our attention, we may need to learn (or re-learn) behaviors that help us focus our energy on the activity and the people surrounding us at this very moment. Chances are your students need to learn these skills, too.

As founder of the Wisdom 2.0 Conference, Soren Gordhamer brings together top thinkers in both technology and wisdom traditions to discuss the importance of living and working with mindfulness in our technology-saturated age. In this keynote speech from Cengage Learning’s recent Course Technology Conference, Gordhamer discusses how you, as an educator, can inspire the current generation of students to manage their use of technology, so that it becomes a servant rather than a master. He brings in insights from some of today’s leading tech innovators – as well as examples from his own life – that illustrate how and why mindfulness plays a critical role in creating an optimal, creative environment that fosters learning, innovation, and exploration. You’ll also learn how putting away your tech devices can actually make you more productive, while also gleaning some tips for staying conscious and connected.

How do you stay conscious and connected? What techniques do you use to “unplug” and restore a sense of creativity and innovation in your life? Share your suggestions in the comments section below. 

Soren Gordhamer works with individuals and groups on living with greater mindfulness and purpose in our technology-rich age. He is founder and host of the Wisdom 2.0 Conference, which has brought together innovators such as the founders of Facebook, Twitter, eBay, Zynga, and PayPal, along with wisdom teachers from various traditions. Soren is also author of Wisdom 2.0: Ancient Secrets for the Creative and Constantly Connected (HarperOne, 2009), one of the first books to explore living with mindfulness and wisdom within the context of our modern technology age.