I’ve found myself deeply gripped by sadness lately. As with most things, the causes are multiple, but the underlying theme appears to be the same—connection, or the lack thereof. In this hollow void, I’m referring to both myself and the world at large.
Do you also notice that when a topic becomes particularly entrenched in your consciousness that it appears repeatedly throughout your life, from multiple sources, and in varying hues? The matter of connection is bombarding me in the contexts of forest ecology, nature exposure, friendship, vulnerability, global air quality, climate crisis, pain of silence, patience, wellbeing and wealth, longevity, and others. These may not appear at first to correlate but I find that the degree to which a person can reflect on the nature of inner Self is at the core of all the issues. By looking within and being with what IS we connect to the substratum of existence; we experience the materialisation of every categorisation, judgement, and thought that shapes how we see, and therefore interact with and engage in our world.
❝ Our well-being is inseparable from the well-being of the world.❞
~Charles Eisenstein, Wellbeing and Wealth
In a study published in Advances in Experimental Social Psychology, researchers discovered that 67 percent of men and 25 percent of women choose to self-administer electric shocks rather than sit quietly with their thoughts for 15 minutes. Personally, I feel that the premise of the model was misguided; Instead of asking people to “just think”, it would have been far more helpful to ask subjects to “just be” with whatever arises. A possible follow-up would be to guide participants on the path of learning how to stop believing their thoughts. Regardless, the outcomes were shocking, for me.
A couple of weeks ago a curious event occurred while meditating. In truth, it was more a matter of what didn’t occur, but the awareness of the circumstance was new. I sat looking deeper into how thoughts arise and create elaborate visions that carry attention away to far off illusions. Then I noticed that each time a new thread started it pulled energy from my system in order to create the sights, sounds and feelings of the theatrical fantasy. But if I didn’t believe the thought and instead just allowed it to fade away then both the energy and silence remained. Reality was far more blissful than the reverie. Even still, I found myself easily lured from beatitude. My only explanation for the insanity (of leaving euphoria) is that I’m addicted to the stimulus.
Brad Stulberg writes in his article for Time magazine, ‘The Secret to Success? Mastering the Art of Patience’, “The work you put in needs to persist long enough to break through inevitable barriers and plateaus. What seems like a static period may not be a static period at all—perhaps you just aren’t seeing the effects of your efforts yet.” I’ve been meditating daily for several years and can affirm that there are far more plateaus than there are breakthroughs. “Plateaus can be especially frustrating. They expose all kinds of hidden motivations. …Sometimes you need to pound the stone over and over again before it breaks. That doesn’t mean your prior pounds aren’t working. The tension may very well be building, and you just can’t see it yet.” My daily practice feels a bit frustrating at times, but I know that dedication and perseverance are important aspects of the journey. It’s an investment in Self, Life, and others.
❝ Studies show that building a strong support network of family and friends lowers mortality risk by about 45%.❞
~Dan Buettner, Blue Zones
So, what’s behind my melancholy? The reasons are personal sorrow at lack of connection in areas of friendship, partnership, canine companionship, and social isolation, as well as pain in seeing how disconnected we are, globally, from ourselves and our fellow earthlings (human, animal, and plant). I find this lack of connection to be the root cause of all that ails us.
Why do I start every single day by sitting down quietly? To (re)connect, to listen without demands. I have to start at home, in myself, at the very origin of all phenomena. From there I can consciously move in the world, building the life-giving connections that support robust health. It too is a practice.
✌️ ∙ 🌱 ∙ 🙏