East-West Perspective: Mindfulness in a Twittering World

[East-West Perspective]

Mindfulness In A Twittering World

Debi Dunn, MBA and Andrea M. Delligati, Ph.D.


I admit that I am the last person who should be writing anything about technology.  Many of us “seasoned” psychologists have been catapulted into an electronic age that spawns fear and ambivalence. While I do value the capabilities of word processing, computerized test scoring, e-mail, and, yes, even Wikis, I have not been convinced that social networking is worth all the aggravation. I have a Web site and a profile on LinkedIn. What more could I need?

This was my conversation with a holistic health practitioner I met at a womens’ conference in November as we sat in a presentation about social media. When we met for lunch a few weeks later, she was considering taking the plunge but had her reservations! 

As a humble teacher of ancient movement therapies known as qigong and t’ai chi, she lives, teaches, and values a simple lifestyle that includes meditation, stress reduction techniques, proper nutrition and plenty of exercise. But how is it possible to live in the moment, stay centered, focused and “mindful,” when your cell phone has become your new communication appendage? It no longer just rings to let you know someone wants to talk to you, but it beeps and buzzes, leaving you messages in e-mail, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and more! connection - global

Everyone, it seems, is caught up in “Social Networking” and it requires a “new” vocabulary to help us communicate with each other in this fast-paced “e-world.” For example, you have “Friends” on Facebook who can friend and “unfriend” you if they don’t like what you have to say. Facebook tends to be very social and people display little filtering in what they will post for others to see. Of course for psychologists Facebook provides lots of data for our study of human nature! Anyway, people can “Fan” you on a Facebook Fan Page which is more professional in content and is used to advertise your business, events, or products. People “Follow” you on Twitter where you can present public education messages, send people to your Web site for information, or advertise your business. The downside is Twitter’s 140 character limit within which to type a succinct message to capture attention or inspire others. LinkedIn began as a professional networking site utilized by larger companies to find talent.  Currently, small businesses and professionals are developing a presence on LinkedIn.  Finally, there is a Blog that is regularly updated with a “post” of a short paragraph on some topic.

Now, if you are like me, your head is swimming. There are not enough hours in the day to deal with all these different means of electronic communication. Well, guess what?  You can do the work just once because all can be linked together through a “platform” like Typepad for a Blog and TweetDeck to manage your FaceBook Fan Page and Twitter “tweets.” Other platform options are available, but regardless of which ones you choose, the “icons” for Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Blog should appear on your Web site Home page so visitors can easily click over to these other sites. Believe it or not, this social networking is all about building communities of people who are interested in you and what you have to offer. The best part of all this is that it’s free on-line publicity for your business and for psychology! But, before you jump into any social networking site, please take the time to learn how to set up a secure and private environment through the use of the “Privacy Settings.”  

So, back to my friend, Debi, who as a “mindfulness” practitioner, perceives the social networking movement as “a return to the ‘yin’ (feminine, emotional, social) vs. the ‘yang’ (masculine, less emotional, more independent) attitude.” In some respects it is a refreshing change, but in others it is quite bothersome with so much information from so many different channels. She noted that some of the qigong, t’ai chi and mindfulness masters do not subscribe to this twittering world, while others have jumped in with both feet. So the real question was, “Should she succumb?” Here is her story:

smartphone and apps“I said there was just no way in “my mindful qigong world” that I had “time” to tweet, friend, fan or even follow all these communities of people. But that all changed with my first tweet! I already had the requisite website, www.theheartofhealing.com, to which I attached a blog. I set up a Facebook page and created a separate Fan page called, “The Heart of Healing.”  I already had a LinkedIn site for Debi Dunn. So, the last step was setting up Twitter, “DebiDunnQigong” and TweetDeck to manage Twitter and Facebook messages…and probably more which I haven’t even figured out yet. I sent out a 140 character “tweet” message and within 24 hours got followers from Australia, the UK, and Singapore. Overnight, I went global! A woman from the UK, a book publisher, read my tweet, checked out my Fan page on Facebook, went to my Web site, read my blog, and then emailed me to see if I would be on her BlogRadio show in April 2010 to talk about Qigong and my new Tranquil Journeys meditation CD. “Oh,” she added, “I would be glad to offer your two new Qigong DVDs and meditation CD for sale on my Web site here in the UK if you would like! By the way, if you are planning to publish a workbook, I can also help you with that through my new website for authors.”  If this were not enough excitement, the following day I received an e-mail that said, “The Dalai Lama is now following your tweets on Twitter.” That’s all the confirmation I needed! All is tranquil in my world…now back to my meditation…ohmmmm.”

Maybe we would all feel a bit more “tranquil” once we put aside our fears and embrace this new technology to advance our businesses, our profession, and psychology’s value to the public. After this last year, I’m ready to give it a try!


Debi Dunn, MBA

Debi Dunn, MBA

Debi Dunn, MBA, is a Certified Level III Advanced Qigong Instructor through the National Qigong Association.  She is also a professor of Stress Management at West Chester University, West Chester, PA, and holds additional certifications in yoga, meditation, Reiki, and is an EFT  practitioner.  Debi scripted and co-produced two “Qigong for Everyone” dvds, “The Basics”, and “Designing Your Own Practice”, and a meditation cd, “Tranquil Journeys”.  She has studied qigong and t’ai chi with Master Nan Lu, Dr. Yang Jwing-Ming, Brother Bernard Seif, Sifu Sara Gellhorn, and Ken Cohen.  Debi also presents meeting breaks and stress management workshops at a variety of major corporations.  In 2001, Debi survived successful brain surgery to remove a benign tumor and began to question her soul’s purpose in life after 20 years in corporate life.  She rediscovered her true inner self and rededicated her life’s work to becoming a compassionate healing presence for others.  As a holistic educator, she teaches students and clients how to take charge of their body-mind-spirit balance through integrated healing modalities.  www.nicelydunncoaching.com

Andrea M. Delligati

Andrea M. Delligati

Andrea M. Delligatti, Ph.D., Consulting Psychologist, Executive Coach, Mediator, partners with corporate executives and business owners to creatively resolve people problems that derail business performance. By transforming problems into solutions, she increases the organization’s emotional intelligence. In the process, she creates psychologically healthy workplaces where people excel and business prospers for a better bottom line. Her practice emerged from a marketplace need to combine quality professional services, exceptional customer satisfaction and the creation of a culture of value and integrity for the client organization. Clients describe me as a genuine, empathic person and creative problem solver who inspires them to achieve more than they ever envisioned for themselves.  http://www.amdphd.com/

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