Updated: Nov 20
I have heard it said and felt myself quite often that meditation, mindfulness, gratitude, and re-connection with the natural world is counter cultural work. Perhaps even radical? The Webster's dictionary definition of counter cultural is : "a culture with values that run counter to those of established society."
So if, at breatheIn2IT, we educate and support our students to shift time away from the cultural norms and behaviors that are HURTING US, perhaps we are a bit radical. But then again, so was almost every paradigm shift EVER that led to something better and healthier, at some point.
The question may be, when do we draw the line in the sand and say any of the following:
Technology has invaded my life to an extreme and stolen my peace
The pace of society has stolen my peace
The absence of gratitude as a personal practice and a cultural norm has skewed my perspective
I am not happy and must shift my attention
I have lost the bigger picture of well-being and self-care, lost in the minutiae of often meaningless or escapist pursuit
I have so little feeling of ease and peace in my life that I forget how it feels
I am so depleted - this must change
I am focusing so much on achievement and the cultural definition of "success," (money based, achievements of our children, sports success, standing above the crowd) that I have lost the ability to be at peace with "what is"
Connection with others and the natural world has slipped down my time and attention list and it's hurting me
This is an over-simplification and lacking significant pieces of the complex structures that ail our modern culture, and we all have different challenges and circumstances. But, in reference to the above 9 points, what we see in ourselves, our students at breatheIN2IT, and from our research studies and wellness certification work, we need to draw a hard and fast line in the sand that "enough is enough." If we feel that our peace is fragile or absent, that joys in life are fleeting and jeopardized by chronic stress, that to do lists and constant comparison to others are never ending, that happiness has become a mountain to climb, and that mountain is veiled in deep mist and there is no map to get there, then let's draw the line.
Drawing the line gives us space and perspective. Drawing the line gives us access to say, "what other way is there that is helpful?" Drawing the line enables us to open another door to ways of living in this world that hold the great possibility of more peace and creating a life we don't feel we need to escape from all the time.
Through my own journey with the PART Program, HeartMath and Nature Reconnection, I have learned to say "no" to distractions, enticements, negative reactions and pulls on my time that our culture presents and makes pretty darn readily available:
unhealthy food and sleep patterns
unending video stream
stress and physical/mental depletion as an accepted state or "badge of work ethic" honor
constant phone "ping" interruptions 24/7
ability to be mostly indoors because we can now survive without going outside
necessary work that could have me sitting for hours but then followed by blue-light tech entertainment that could have me on the couch 'til sleep
cultural push that we must "do" all the time and not just "be"
Am I perfect? Oh mercy no:). Some bad days? You bet. What I know is, the days that I draw my line, dive into my toolbox of relaxation, focus, movement, connection, heart-based living, inner awareness, gratitude, and nature re-connection ARE THE BEST DAYS. And, these are the days that I am most able to reach out, connect with and help others while maintaining my own store of energy.
Are you ready to draw your line?
I took the road less travelled by and that made all the difference. - Robert Frost