The world we see outside, the world we have created is simply a reflection, a projection of our inner world. Global warming, corruption, violence, greed, compassion, kindness, forgiveness, love – all of these we first create within us before we manifest the same in the material world.
You do not have to look very far to find news of how our species is destroying the only home we have. According to the World Wild-life Fund for nature, since just 1970 we have destroyed more than 30% of all forests and about the same of the marine eco system. This destruction is the direct result of a growing population and its desire for comfort. Perhaps most damaging is the craving for so many things that we don’t even need but have been brainwashed to desire, simply to satisfy the desire of certain individuals to increase their already obscene personal wealth.
However, the most dangerous destruction of all is happening with very little commentary: it is the slow destruction of our inner selves. This is happening through the hijacking of our attention so that we are permanently caught up in compulsive, frenetic, even fearful and anxious levels of activity. We are losing our capacity for slowness, for stillness, for reflection and contemplation. We are losing our ability to simply sit quietly and do nothing for 15 minutes without DOING SOMETHING.
The evermore sophisticated and successful use of electronic devices, the internet and social media to capture and monetize our attention means that we are losing ourselves, our ability to know who we are and what is truly important to us. Instead we are becoming unthinking, mindless cogs in a massive destructive global machine, brainwashed to compulsively respond to the speed, noise and artificial urgency of the wired world.
What can we do about this?
At a personal level we can learn to consciously manage our attention. We can do this through bringing mindfulness and meditation into our lives. We can also bring about change where we work, live and play.
Here some ideas and experiences that you might find useful:
When I lived in Hong Kong I worked in a meditation centre. Everyone was very focussed on their many different projects. Hong Kong is the most accelerated city I have lived in and it was easy to get caught up in the frenetic pace of life there. To combat this we had what was called traffic-control. Each hour for 10 minutes beautiful music would play throughout the building. We would all stop what we were doing and re-centre ourselves. Could you do that in your workplace?
If you are an employer or have the possibility of doing so, how about making a quiet room, a room for reflection, contemplation or simply silence – a room free of food, computers, mobiles, all electronics?
At home, make an hour in the evening in which the whole family is electronics-free: no TV, mobiles, games – just people spending quiet time together.
Make all meals unplugged, mobile and TV-free.
Before starting meetings how about three or better still, five minutes of silence where everyone can centre themselves in the present.
Plan twenty minutes or half-an-hour a day of unplugged activity: a walk without your phone. Just twenty minutes of sitting looking at the countryside or in the park.
How about an unplugged half-hour in the swimming pool?
I know from my own experience and from teaching others just how difficult it can be to do nothing. We become aware of our restlessness, our craving for distraction, any distraction. It can feel difficult to change at first. But with a bit of intention and determination we can liberate ourselves from the slavery of the compulsive, frenetic wired world.
And if we change a bit on the inside then just maybe we can start to change what is on the outside.