The Art of One Tab

We need to embrace a new meditative form of Internet zen.

Nearly everyone I know has a tab problem — windows open with a million little pages scrunched across the top of their screen.

Some are worse than others, and it’s not really anybody’s fault. It’s really damn easy to lose your focus when you’re on the Internet. Every word of interest in most articles you’ll read will be hyperlinked out, taking you somewhere new, to another thought thread. It seems interesting. You keep the window open, not wanting to lose the opportunity of potentially valuable information to the vastness of the web.

But then you lose the value of focusing at all.

My grandmother always used to tell me that a clean space meant for a clear mind, and that advice seamlessly translates to our modern day workspaces — our computers and laptops.

Our modern minds are melding more and more into machine; we rely on the external hard drives and clouds more than ever for quick information, easily accessible from our fingertips. But when we crowd our desktops with tabs and pages of information, how can we think at all?

When I see particularly clogged screens, they’re usually a reflection of the mind of the user in front of it: distracted, and prone to anxiety.

How many applications, browsers and pages do you have open right now?

How many of them are you actually using at this exact moment?

Can you finish reading this until the end, without jumping elsewhere, to check your messages or Facebook or Twitter stream?

Clearing your screen down to the pages or programs you’re actually using right now — in the moment — is a form of meditation.

It can be difficult to let go. Most people, including myself, who first start meditating find it hard to stop the endless stream of thoughts, worries and analysis that whirr around their heads. They find it difficult to sit still, to let thoughts pass by and to just concentrate on breathing — a single, focused act.

Since I’ve started meditating daily, I find myself more focused and calm. Creative and productive. I try to encourage others to try it as much as possible, in whatever form possible. The meditative state can be carried into our all aspects of our lives.

I’ve been wanting to write this since the idea struck me two weeks ago, when looking at my own screen filled with ten tabs after reprimanding a friend who had three browsers open and at least thirty tabs open. I average on about eight to ten on any given day, and the original title for this piece was called “The Art of Eight Tabs Or Less.”.

But as I write this now, and near the end — I only have one open. This window. And it feels great.

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