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Mindfulness in a Fast-paced World

timemagfeb42014

Peace of mind might just be on the cusp of becoming mainstream!

In February, Time magazine ran a cover story on the trend of mindfulness. The lead article and cover story was: “The Mindful Revolution – The science of finding focus in a stressed out multitasking culture.”

Then, the 2014 World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland included speakers who addressed the wider need for happiness and wellbeing as vital global values.

Goldie Hawn spoke on mindfulness, Buddhist monk and French humanitarian Matthieu Ricard spoke on the importance of not missing joy and the experience of the now, and Pope Francis sent a message which was read at the opening ceremony saying: “I ask you to ensure that humanity is served by wealth and not ruled by it.”

 

Goldie Hawn and Dan Siegel at TEDMED 2009

But what is mindfulness?

The definition is:

Screen Shot 2014-02-21 at 15.31.42

Mindfulness has become the buzz word now, but mindfulness is just a word to describe an age old practice of awareness of how we are feeling and how to be present to what is actually happening ‘now’ in our lives.

We have a tendency to live in the past or in the future. Remembering a better past maybe, or regretting a sad past or being unable to let go of a very troubled or grief laden past. And the future, that wonderful place of ‘it will be great when…”

It will all be great when I get the new job or the new car or the new house or the new partner.  When I’m better, when I’m stronger… All these things that we are going to do and be when…

And so life rushes by. The point of meditative practices is to slow down and to notice. To notice not just what is going on around you in the now, in the moment you are living in but also to notice who is doing the noticing.

The noticer, you, me, us, the person who is doing the noticing is often the one person we don’t know very well. In a world of instant everything and constant distraction less and less time is given to introspection and to actually getting to know our own selves. And to truly know another we have to know our own selves first.

As a bioenergy therapist, what I see increasingly in clients is a disconnection with their own selves and with what is real. My own descriptor for it is reality-hunger.

All the technology which should be making life easier in fact has taken over and the relentless stream of information leaves people with a feeling that they are always missing the mark somehow. It’s just not possible to keep up with  facebook, twitter, instagram, emails, texts and have a life. And these are all the bits that happen outside of work. Add work in and another avalanche of information awaits, so it’s no wonder that people are becoming increasingly exhausted and unfulfilled.

The noticer, the mindful person underneath that flood of information is a real person with a need for real contact. Skype relationships are not real; text, facebook and twitter relationships are not real. They are virtual constructs and ultimately are people in isolation swapping profiles and random thoughts with other people in isolation. The technology originally designed to facilitate real relationships has taken over and become the relationship.

As living beings we communicate not just with words but with gestures, body language, emotions, and energy. All five senses engage in real communication. Without that richness of communication, we know on a deep level that something is missing and this is what is contributing to the real disconnect that is going on in society.

For those born in the 90s and after it is even more difficult as they are the generations who are in essence the guinea pigs of a large social experiment. They don’t have the benefit of knowing a life before incessant online communication and so for them, the ability to use all senses is given less and less space. And using online apps to connect and hook-up for no strings sex is not any more real. The sense of touch may be being used but that’s about all as there is no time given to allow a rich emotional connection to evolve.

The end result is stress as living beings deprived of a real need to interact with all senses and real emotions get very stressed.

Mindfulness and meditation of any kind is a first step to redress the balance as it gives a person space to connect with themselves and with life in the now. But along with that there needs to be time given to actually go out and live and physically meet and connect with other people in a meaningful way.

So what to do? First get to know ourselves and then get out there and get to know others. It’s time to stop the pics and tweets about what we doing and actually be there fully present and engaged in what is really happening all around us. It’s called life.

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