It works both ways

For the past few months I've been finishing up my documentation and portfolio for my Advanced Diploma with the Permaculture Institute.  In this process I've had to condense and distil experiences into their smallest and most important form. It has been an exercise in communication, in peeling back layers to the heart of the matter.

Noise and information is something I thought about while doing this.  'It works both ways' is a permaculture saying that forces us to look at an issue in more than one way.  We have never had more access to information- and yet, what do we really know?  What do we use that information for?

It makes me think of what the Dalai Lama said about 'The Paradox of Our Age' 

"We have bigger houses but smaller families; more conveniences, but less time.

We have more degrees but less sense; more knowledge but less judgement; more experts, but more problems; more medicines but less healthiness.

We've been all the way to the Moon and back, but have trouble in crossing the street to meet our new neighbour.

We built more computers to hold more copies that ever, but have less real communication.

We have become long on quantity, but short on quality.

These are times of fast foods but slow digestion; tall men but short characters; steep profits but shallow relationships.

It's a time when there is much in the window

But nothing in the room."

It also links up with a recent research into boredom highlighted on this CBC Ideas Episode, the Tedium is the Message and loneliness on CBC Spark, The lonely generation and more.

What I am saying it is easy to immerse ourselves in information and distraction, but very difficult to actually stop and reflect, to go deeper into experiences.

So what?  Is the sky falling? Nope.  It works both ways. Many people around me are able to access employment, information and connect with friends because of the information and technology at our fingertips.


It works both ways. Maybe it is that self-reflection, those moments of clarity that allow us to cultivate kindness, generosity, caring, and compassion.  Maybe those moments where the noise is silenced is where we nourish imagination, vision and sensitivity.

So how to create habits of stillness and self-reflection in this busy world?  I know some people who have decided to drop off social networks, some people that have rules around computer/phone use in the house, or use apps to block their phone/computer use at certain times.

It makes me think about different religious customs and practices around rest, reflection and stillness.  Many religious practices have a day of rest every week where you are not allowed to do work, and thus you might be encouraged to spend time with your family and friends. Further, most have a custom of prayer, or gratitude to stop to reflect at some point in the day.

Seasonally (if you live in a temperate climate), the winter is a time to go inward so that the spring and summer can be full of growth. In the stillness, the foundation for the next season is planted. New Years, is also a time where we might reflect on the last year, and make new goals towards the next.

What customs, habits and traditions are helpful for cultivating the conditions for generosity, compassion and self-reflection? What awareness can you gain in the next breath by observing the world around you?

"The miracle is not to walk on water. The miracle is to walk on the green earth, dwelling deeply in the present moment and feeling truly alive."
-Thich Nhat Hanh


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