A client and dear friend forwarded me this wonderful New York Times opinion article written by a favorite author of mine, Pico Iyer, from December 29, 2011 titled “The Joy of Quiet”. My clients comment to me after reading the article, was: “As I sit quietly at night, with the only sound in my home being the breathing of my asthmatic cat, who knew that I had gone from dinosaur to cutting edge chic?” I feel like this amusing, but truthful article is an appropriate beginning blog post for the New Year as silence and quiet time in nature are a key part of the foundation of the kindred spirits project. My friend also commented “I thought this would resonate with you”. It did indeed. I felt like Pico personally endorsed and reaffirmed my own decisions and that perhaps, I no longer needed to consider myself a dinosaur for choosing to live on a quieter, more remote island, living a more peaceful life with less nonstop connection to the outer world. I chuckled as I read it and thought, oh, I am not the only one who has made a conscious choice like that. Cool beans, my choices are now becoming chic for a new generation!
After living around the greater New York area most of my life, and heading off to quiet retreats around the world whenever possible to rebalance my attunement to the calmer vibrational frequencies of nature, and then finally moving to a more tranquil island, I too feel acknowledged by this article. It is not easy to make these conscious choices as the majority of the population chooses to stay tuned to the world 24/7 , competing to survive, and thriving on the nonstop busy mind traffic. Like a frog in boiling water society has slowly adapted to the increase in noise, visual, water and air pollution. All the chronic busyness and stress impacts on our mental, emotional, physical and spiritual states. After my first ten years of veterinary practice, being on emergency call every other night and inevitably being called out every other night, I was well aware of that stress and the toll it took on me and my soul yearned for disconnection from phones, beepers, etc.
I was always impressed with individuals who in the midst of it all are able to remain calm and centered. I actually was one of those individuals for a while as long as I continued my morning meditation and yoga practice prior to going off to help all creatures great and small, until the frenetic pace finally overwhelmed all my compensatory survival techniques. Throughout it all, sharing my life with animal friends was of great support in bringing me back to a more peaceful, centered place as well. Though, after years of practicing various techniques to quiet the mind and maintain a sense of calmness and equanimity in the midst of it all, I realized it was time to change and surround myself with a more peaceful environment in general. One young friend of mine asked a few friends recently if the outer environment was critical for maintaining inner peace. My spontaneous comment was emphatically yes, with a reserved caveat that some have managed to be peaceful despite all the stress and horrors surrounding them. Others friends reminded him of unique individuals that found that peace in the midst of absolutely terrifying environments such as concentration camps, solitary confinement, prisons, battlefields etc. I fully admitted that I had a long way to go before I was able to maintain my inner calm, peace and equanimity in the midst of situations like that. One meditation teacher stated that if you really wanted to strengthen your meditation practice, meditate in Times Square. The island I call home now is quite the contrast to Manhattan Island, a quantum leap slower, no traffic lights, numerous organic farms, bumper stickers such as “slow down, you are not on the mainland anymore” and a quirky, yet fascinating mix of people from all over the world, who have made similar choices after surviving busy lives of working and traveling. Even great monks after teaching all over the world, will take quiet retreat time in nature to revitalize and rejuvenate.
What I found most fascinating about the article is that the concept of “tuning out” has indeed become chic and is considered part of marketing to the next generation. Who would have ever thought that this realization would happen so quickly. On this island, there actually are a fair number of a younger generation that have already experienced enough of the nonstop, frenetic pace of more metropolitan areas and have wisely chosen a simpler life already. Did this transition from dinosaur to chic occur so quickly because the youth are much wiser or because the environments have become even more frenetic? Thoughts?
If one is not able to leave a more frenetic pace, Pico Iyers shares various adaptive techniques that allow an individual to at least create some “retreat time” from the internet and 24/7 connectedness, such as taking an “internet sabbath day” or weekend without any media or phone connections where you are. Animals and nature are eternal inner and outer support for a more loving, peaceful mind and heart. As I stated in my book “Kindred Spirits” sharing one’s life with their animal companions has been shown to have numerous health benefits including a decrease in many measurements of physiologic stress. Previous posts on this blog document the health benefits of sound healing, quiet time in nature, the human animal bond, etc.
Another dear friend and multi-generational, world renowned Feng Shui master, Pun-Yin, shared in her New Year’s blog, some suggestions for a more healing and peaceful New Year from a more Asian, Feng Shui perspective for greater inner and outer balance and peace. All these suggestions and tips are immensely beneficial in nourishing and supporting your inner peace and tranquility even if you are not able to control your outer world. Actually, as Ram Dass used to say, “wherever you go, there you are” and I have certainly seen many frenetic, wired people in the most tranquil environments and still unable to quiet their minds. So, in reality, creating inner peace and harmony is the most essential practice and the outer is the icing on the cake. However, sometimes the icing sure does help get us into that place much easier. Yes indeed, this NY Times article has indeed confirmed and affirmed some of my own life choices.
How have you created a more peaceful inner and outer environment for yourself?
As we all continue to make more conscious choices for creating more peaceful, loving inner and outer environments, we thereby support a world movement of this and hence create a more peaceful, loving world. Kudos to the advertisers and marketers that realize this is what future generations are yearning for. Yet, how do you market that to a population that has tuned out of marketing? hmmmm????
Dear friends, may this New Year bless you with both inner and outer peace for you and all your kindred spirits. May you be able to cultivate inner peace, joy and tranquility wherever you are.