Calm. Focus. Attention. Listening. Self-awareness.
I am concerned that these skills are falling away just when they are needed most desperately. So, the question that naturally follows is where do we learn the vanishing art of simply being present?
Let’s look the realities of the word in which we live.
It is a nearly a radical act of civil disobedience these days to ‘power down’ and unplug for a time period each day. Distraction is rampant. Digital overload is epidemic. People are disconnected from their body, from their breath and from their own unique creative energy. How odd that all this connection causes so much disconnection.It is the rare person who puts conscious boundaries around distraction, who makes sustained eye contact and limits information-input to only the most critical. It is the rarest of individuals who can be fully present to another human, really listening not simply waiting to speak. And, can we please just have a conversation without repeatedly pausing to go to the Interwebs for some factoid we simply MUST KNOW NOW?!
In today’s world, few seem to understand the role of technology. Like money, technology is a marvelous servant and but a horrible master. As a result, we are a wildly distracted people, receiving enormous amounts of non-critical information each moment of the day, and focused on nothing of inherent inner value. In a nutshell, the inmates are running the asylum.
Don’t get me wrong, I am not a Luddite, nor am I anti-technology. In fact, my day-job for several years has been in software-development. (And the irony is not lost on me that this post will be delivered via five forms of social media.) I believe, however, that the collective, nearly exclusive, attention on technology and external tools has been over-emphasized at the cost of our most valuable inner resources.
I take our collective level of distraction very personally. I am an avid biker, both road riding and mountain biking. Of late, there has been an alarming increase in the number of biking fatalities at the hands of distracted drivers. Yes, I take this personally and spend my time on two wheels, in part, looking for the eyeballs of approaching drivers. If I see eyeballs, great. If not, I head for the ditch.
A friend shared with me recently her frustration with her boss. Every time she spoke in a meeting, he used that as an opportunity to check his email on his phone. How many times have you seen a child tugging on a phone-gazing parent trying to get their attention? The truth is, you cannot successfully fake attention. In fact, your undivided attention is a powerful tool and can often be the most valuable gift you can give someone.
In a world where there is no question for which we cannot find an immediate answer, we have forgotten that answers come both THROUGH us and TO us and our deepest answers rarely yell to be heard. Unless we are quiet inside, unless we are discerning about how much non-critical information we feed ourselves, we can miss important answers or nudges toward the path of our authentic life.
So, what about calm, focus, attention, listening and self-awareness?
In a yelling world, these skills are too often perceived as soft, valueless, passive or easy. I beg to differ. These skills are deep and wide and burly and robust, requiring rugged discipline, commitment and clarity about their incredible value to self and to the world. Sadly, they are not readily taught and they sure as hell are not publicly modeled. (Forgive me, that really did call for a ‘hell’.)
So, how and where do we acquire and develop these skills?
Most people believe these skills are mental, originating strictly between the ears. That belief comes from a misunderstanding of the mind, which resides not only in the brain but also in every cell of our body. (By the way, that’s not woo-woo, that’s science.) So, unless we calm the body, we can never fully calm the mind. And a calm mind is the foundation on which focus, attention, listening, and self-awareness reside.
This is my passion, friends. Yoga Expression Spirit – YES – is my response to a world that wants to sell me my answers every moment of the day, a world heavily invested in making me believe I desperately need something external, complex and costly to make myself whole. Yoga Expression Spirit is about caring for the body, calming the mind and allowing the seeds of expression to grow. Much more on that later…
I leave you with a few final questions:
How much time each day do you spend on your attire? Your appearance? Your car? Your phone? On the external tools of your trade?
What would happen if you made a little more time for your best resource – you?