The core cultural wound PDF Print E-mail
News - Final Word
Monday, 25 January 2016 20:34
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Tell me about your New Year’s Eve, girlfriend. Did you spend that magical midnight turnover to 2016 with friends? I mean flesh-and-blood people; not those you reach with the touch of a button on your cell phone or computer.

Renegade medical doctor, Lissa Rankin, says you shouldn’t fool yourself into thinking you are truly connecting with people when you have hordes of friends on Facebook, Twitter, e-mail, Skype or whatsapp groups. She says that this kind of interaction is actually disconnecting us from others.

The paradox is that while we’re more connected than ever through social media, there has never been a time in human history when so many people have felt so disconnected and so hungry for a sense of belonging.

Lissa is convinced that the internet is burning us out. With so many social media sites to keep up with, so many webinars and teleclasses to listen to, so many Skype calls to log into and e-mails to answer, our schedules have become so hectic that we don’t have time to get together in the here-and-now of physical reality with those we know. Even when we do get together in person, we aren’t present and keep checking our phones for messages.

Lissa explains that the core cultural wound of disconnection happens like this: Our culture values the self-serving, accumulating hoarder of worldly goods. We want the benefits of community, but we value our privacy more and don’t want to compromise any of the comforts of the lives of separation that we live with our possessions behind high walls and security fences.

But then we get so lonely that we go grasping for our soul tribe on the internet. We are in the process of finding out that an online community is not the same as a local tribe. What we really crave is the comfort of flesh-and-blood presence.

Lissa says that the biggest risk to your health is not any of your bad habits, a poor diet or lack of exercise; it is loneliness. Scientists have discovered that the world’s ‘blue zones’ – those places where a greater than average number of people live to be over 100 years old – all share one thing.

In these zones people live in close-knit, multi-generational tribes that take care of each other. And nobody spends all day and night glued to something that hijacks them from being present where their bodies are.

When we gather in person to connect with each other, a relaxation response is ignited in us, writes Herbert Benson at Harvard. Our nervous systems relax and our bodies are filled with healing hormones, such as endorphins, dopamine and oxytocin.

The internet, with its immediacy of bad news and its sparking of keeping-up-with-the-Jones’ on social media, activates a fight-or-flight stress response, which disables the body’s natural self-healing mechanisms.

Lissa says she doesn’t suggest ditching the internet. It is a valuable resource that helps us to get things done in the world. Although we are daily confronted with the imminence of more people on a digital level than we can handle connecting with, there is probably no greater way of locating old friends you’ve lost touch with, than the internet.

When fate, albeit the forced kind of fate brought on by a search engine, brings old friends back into our lives, there is always a reason.

“They may act as messengers, reminding us of a part of ourselves we have forgotten to nurture. They might appear to give us a chance to react in a new way to an old situation. They may even bring up unresolved issues so that we may complete them, giving us the chance to move forward,” says Madisyn Taylor.

Moving forward doesn’t necessarily mean dragging them along. I mean, it’s time for me to face facts: I’ve been keeping contact with people whose presence in my life would have died a natural death decades ago if I didn’t persist in phoning them on their birthdays.

I’m wired genetically and molecularly in my brain to overdo this keeping-up sort of thing. It’s time to stop. Now. In 2016, which in Chinese astrology is the year of the red fire monkey; a creativity year which is focused on the mind. 

My mindful intention is to follow the 13th century Persian poet Rumi’s advice. “Be like a tree and let the dead leaves drop.” I’m trying to trust that in the letting go, magnificent new things will replace that which I’m shedding right now.

 

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