Dearest Quiet Evolutionaries,
As always, as you read this I hope you can connect to that quiet still place inside of yourself. It’s a chaotic world out there, especially if your focus is being constantly being pulled by things-outside-of-yourself.
When I write these words my intention is not to be thought-provoking, but instead to be thought-reducing. We all get enough sensory and brain stimulation in the outside world. And too much stimulation is bad for you. Have you heard of adrenal fatigue/exhaustion? Also known as 21st Century stress syndrome, this condition is estimated to affect around 66% of the population of the modern Western world. Well, overstimulation of your mind and body is what leads to adrenal exhaustion, as the adrenal glands get constantly overexcited and flood your body with excess cortisol, norepinephrine (adrenaline), and DHEA. The long-term effects of adrenal exhaustion are decrease in working memory, poor concentration, increased aggression, headaches, low libido, back and abdominal pains.
Ok, health spook over! Now I say all of this in the hope of helping you become more conscious of how you interact with the world. There is quite simply a good way and a bad way of interacting with the world. The bad way of interacting with the world is expecting the world to conform to your limited, conditioned view of how things should be. In this view, you decide that something is stressing you out and so you get rid of that thing, only to find that something else comes in its place that stresses you just as much. You know why? Because you brought with you the same limiting, conditioned mindset into the new conditions. The good way is to use all of your interactions with the world as a means of becoming conscious. So, when you find yourself getting stressed, don’t blame the situation, but look at how your way of engaging with that thing is the primary cause of stress. Its not what you do, its how you do it. Or as Hamlet famously said, "there is nothing either good or bad, only thinking makes it so."
So, coming back to my invitation to experience these words as thought-disrupting. As you read on, see if you can experience the reading as a kind of meditation. Keep coming back to that quiet, still, place inside of yourself. This kind of interaction with things-outside-of-yourself is the super-highway to inner and outer peace.
To help you in this task, I am experimenting with placing the quiet evolution symbol at regular intervals, as a reminder to connect to that quiet, still, place. I would love your feedback on how this works for you. Drop me a comment or an email and share your experience good, bad or indifferent. I recently read a brilliant article about the effects of digital technology on our brains. The main take-away is that there is a definite, highly addictive quality to our smartphones, laptops, social media accounts etc. We get instant gratification from every click. This encourages us to obsessively look outside of ourselves, and fundamentally ignore our basic, intrinsic needs. It is like our brains get divorced from our bodies and sucked into the information super-highway. The Matrix was not far wrong.
So, if you are reading this in a rushed, adrenal-exhausting way, rapid-firing through 128 emails and 72 notifications, then can I suggest that you either:
a) Stop reading. You are not connecting to that place of peace right now. Maybe read this another time when you can find more time for yourself. Or...
b) Slow right down.
I am not saying this because I am desperate for you to read every carefully chosen word here, as though I am so bloody important. I am saying this because YOU are so bloody important. Surely, you deserve to slow right down? Your immune system, your skin, your sex drive, your brain...all deserve to slow right down. Here is a killer question about stress and rushing that I highly recommend you ask: who or what am I rushing for? I think you will find that in most situations of stress or rushing, we have let somebody else’s expectations infiltrate our operating system, causing it to speed up and ultimately to malfunction.
Here is a little perspective that might help you. All digital platforms that you use regularly have been designed to be addictive. Facebook, for example, have a huge team of psychologists who are constantly researching, for example, where to place the like button to entice the most clicks. I learned that in an amazing film called In Real Life. You should check it out. Not right now, because that would be another one of those instant gratifications that the information super-highway is facilitating.
So, companies that produce digital technologies are experts at capturing your attention. But only you can give your attention away. The more you can stay connected to that quiet, still place inside of you, the more you will feel a sense of peace in your life, the more you can evolve with natural ease. Simple.
I would just like to share a little anecdote with you.
The anecdote starts with a question to you:
If you were walking through a rush hour train station, sardine-like, and you suddenly had the urge to sing out loud, would you?
I was faced with this (first-world) predicament the other day as I shuffled snail's pace towards the platform at Kings Cross, London. On the previous train, there had been a 'mad' man chatting loudly to himself. I could hear him use words like ‘die’ and ‘kill’ quite a lot. I looked around me and saw people's faces, peeping sheepishly at this gentleman from just above their smartphones, a mixture of fear and mirth. I wondered what kind of Internal Monologues were being narrated inside these onlookers' minds. My own Internal Monologue was throwing up all sorts of responses, from ‘am I about to be blown up?’ to ‘who the hell are all these people surrounding me?’. Whilst my Internal Monologue calculated the events unfolding, I can assure you I was definitely not connected to that quiet still place.
Then I got this urge. As my fellow sardines and I moved off the train towards the platform for the Victoria Line, heads down, silent, shuffling, like psychiatric patients on strong meds, I felt a sudden desire to sing. My inner songbird was lighting up. My mind was suddenly filled with jubilant scenes, everyone breaking out of their monotone spell and joining in some beautiful impromptu magic harmony.
And then I stalled.
My Internal Monologue kicked back in, kindly reminding me: 'you can't just sing like that...people will think you are mad.'
And so I humbly obeyed.
In this very moment, the irony of these events struck me: in this tin of sardines on the London Underground, I had felt such a huge concern to appear 'sane’ or ‘normal’ or at least 'not different', that I couldn't let myself break out into song. I asked myself: where the hell did this straitjacket come from? Which pig-faced dictator decreed that being miserable, monotone, and autistically withdrawn in a public place was a necessary condition of our so-called sane civilisation?
And then I remembered a principle that a great teacher had shared with me some time ago: conflicts (inner and outer) are perfectly designed to teach us the specific lesson we need to learn. This whole sardine shuffle straitjacket moment was teaching me a beautiful and simple lesson:
‘Beware the straitjacket of your Internal Monologue’
The choices we make are humongously pre-determined by the messages our brains have been absorbing ever since we were conceived, and even before (did you know, for example, that how your parents responded to stress becomes encoded in their genes and passed on to you?). This means that on a deep level, our Internal Monologues are an inheritance from family, and from the culture we live in, an inheritance we had little conscious choice over. If you really consider this fact, you will see that your Internal Monologue, that voice that often guides wthe choices you do or don't make, can only ever be a straitjacket. Even if you were to react against your Internal Monologue, for example by bursting into song in the middle of a sardine shuffle, you are still caught in the same system of cause and effect. As the late Bill Hicks said, its all just a ride.
Ok, so admittedly this last bit may be a little bit thought-provoking. You may well be thinking ‘So what?’ Well, the point of this anecdote, and really everything about The Quiet Evolution, is that we cause ourselves a huge amount of stress in relation to our actions in the outside world. No matter what choice we make (to sing or not to sing), if there is a sense of inner conflict, then there can be no peace. Whatever your choices (to buy a house, have children, change jobs, go travelling, eat that chocolate, have another drink), if we make that choice because we are unhappy with our current situation, and we think that that change will make us happier, than we are doomed from the start. This may sound extreme to you, but there is a simple test you can apply right now to see its truth for yourself. Can you connect to that quiet, still place inside of yourself right now?
If you can, then you will notice that from this place, there can be infinitely less stress about what choices you make. You will notice that this is the only place where you can truly be free from the straitjacket you have inherited.
And this is why, it is so important for your own wellbeing to slow right down, and to turn your gaze inside. Because YOU deserve it.
Wishing you peace, love, and wisdom wherever you are.
Until Next Time.