March 24, 2019
The wonderful teachings and meditation intensives are finished for us here in Rishikesh. I am so grateful for the opportunity to sit listening to teachers that have dedicated their lives to understanding and evolving the human spirit from the trappings that minimize us and disable us from being present with ourselves and each other.
There was a lot of attention drawn to the Heads Down Generation. It is a current global situation that has become pandemic. The Heads Down Generation generally refers to those born after the 80’s but I would say the majority of the population is affected by the lure of our devices. Look around you in public places. Everywhere, people are almost qualified in their lives by their connection to a world that lives in their phone. We are losing the ability to be connected with one another where we are. We are even losing the map to the heart of who we are. Depression and anxiety are on the rise. We are identifying with a digital world we have no empathetic connection to. The sense of who we think we should be to fit in and be accepted by others is currently framed by social media, celebrities and corporate branding. This makes my heart sink.
Don’t get me wrong. I love my phone. There are many also amazing benefits to this technology. We can get a college education on our devices. We can get info on anything in the universe, but it’s generally in bite size pieces that don’t often tell a whole story because it doesn’t fit within the seconds that we are willing to give it.
It wasn’t that long ago that the average attention span was 30 minutes and now its 30 seconds. Attention deficit disorder is on the rise and we are guided to medicate when really we should meditate. Good for pharma, not good for the human spirit. Some countries like France have prohibited phones from elementary schools. This is a red hot topic and I would rather put the focus on how to work within the phone culture that we have become.
Just being aware of it as a device not a pacemaker is a start. We can experiment with limiting how much we are on our phones (there is an app build into the phone for that even. lol) We can spend time looking up and feel our breath. We can seek the wonders unfolding around us, the murmuration of starlings, the morning dew upon a field, playful laugher between children, the crackling of a fire, the first coffee smells of the day. It can be anything and everything free and full of life. Free and full of breath.
During our meditation intensive, we had one simple task. Follow the expansion of the in breath and the release of the out breath without being mentally elsewhere. This is one of the greatest gifts we can give ourselves. It may take 10 years to master a meditative focus, but why not give it a lifetime. Thoughts are natural interrupters and that's ok. Observing them come and allowing them to also take a back seat or float away is not so natural but very doable. Although after even days of this practice, I can feel the gift it is to the body and the mind. Anything that is with us until we return to dust is worth the investment. The fact that it can be done anytime from anywhere is a bonus.
When we are wrapped in worries, concerns, fears and pressures of how we are doing in life’s variety of circumstances, we breathe choppy and super shallow. Great yogis for thousands of years attribute controlling the breath as the most important tool for enlightenment.
Perhaps today will be a good day to leave the phone in another room, keep our head up and befriend that which help us enjoy being in the present moment, intimate with our very breath.
Be in the world, not of the world.
Now the weather is getting rather hot and the call to nature and dips in the Ganges is arising. I will willingly and joyfully answer yes. In another ten days I will return to the Mindful Necessities home base in Toronto. It will be time to prepare for the Ireland Spring retreat and A Mindful Society Conference taking place at the end of May.
A Mindful Society conference has been one of my favourite gatherings for professionals and organizations interested in mindful and social change. It’s at University of Toronto and in its 5th year. I know I've said no more shows, but there has to be exceptions to every rule. I participated in the first two but was out of the country for the last two. So happy to be present. The mindfulness community in Toronto is vast, beautiful and progressive. This venue is a wonderful opportunity to connect with others professionally or for life at large. Hope you can come.
For those of you who are interested in coming on the Haelan Retreat in Ireland this September with me and the wonderful Michele Chaban MSW, RSW, PhD, she will be present here. Come and hear her.
Here's the link for more info: https://amindfulsociety.org/
with love, a breath and a smile from Mother India,
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