The Age of Movement
Image used with permission: http://www.aliciaandneilphotography.com/
Click on the link at the bottom of the post to listen to today’s TED Talk:
“More and more people worldwide are living in countries not considered their own. Writer Pico Iyer — who himself has three or four “origins” — meditates on the meaning of home, the joy of traveling and the serenity of standing still.”
Changing our surroundings is a way of waking ourselves up. The longing to travel is often fuelled by the desire to see the world and our lives through different eyes, and to change our perspectives.
Even more profound is the experience of moving. If you have ever moved, you know how deeply it can affect your view and understanding of the world, and of yourself. A small move within the same city can affect you, never mind a change of country or province.
In his TED Talk, Pico Iyers considers how living in the “Age of Movement” is transforming us, and suggests that “stillness” is the best way to find what travel and moving can teach us.
Finding Stillness and Meaning
At about the 9th minute of his TED Talk, Pico shares an experience he had in a retreat at a hermitage.
He talks about “retreat” and silence not as a lack of noise, but as the presence of peace: an experience that helps us to rediscover who we are, and make meaning of all the movement in our lives.
His description makes me long for that kind of stillness and solitude – and maybe some day I will spend a few days at a hermitage on a beautiful mountain! In the meantime, though, scheduling that kind of retreat is pretty hard for most of us. It got me thinking: is there a way to create intentional “retreat” in our regular lives, at home?
Rebooting: Retreat in Our Regular Lives
In his Talk, Pico encourages us to find simple ways of intentionally incorporating “retreat” into our “every-day” lives. While this probably means something different for each of us, here are some suggestions of ways to build more “retreat” into our lives:
Yoga. For several years, I used to practice yoga and meditation. The focused breathing on the pose is one thing that approaches the experience Pico describes. I find it hard to make the time to do this lately, but perhaps I need to start again.
Meditation. Even if you don’t have time to do yoga, a couple of minutes of regular meditation can bring much needed stillness into our lives. I will provide an in depth post on this interesting topic soon. There are also many books on the subject. For beginners, the key is to focus on the breath for a minute or two. Just breathe easy, and if your mind wanders, gently bring it back to the breath.
Walking. Walking has benefits similar to a retreat. When you are mindful of nature surrounding you – yes, even urban outdoor settings are part of nature – you heighten the benefits. If you can occasionally include an outing to a park or out of town, all the better! Yesterday, my mom and I drove out of town, and took a brisk one hour hike in the cold (- 27c), sunny day. When I was done, I felt like a new person. To sum up: a good hike is amazing!
Nature. Related to the point above is the simple act of connecting with nature. Whether you can go to a park at lunch break, work on your garden, bike ride around your neighbourhood, sit in your back yard, or go on a camping trip, being outside and interacting with nature reconnects you and is a type of “retreat”. In our first six years of marriage, my husband and I lived in an apartment on the 10th floor. In the summer, spring, and fall, we would sit out there watching the birds and world go by. It was wonderful to watch the distant trees sprout buds, turn green, and eventually orange, all from up above.
These kind of activities may not be the same as going on a solitary retreat, where you can walk and think and meditate for three days straight without the interruptions of daily life. However, they are activities that are accessible, inexpensive, and can help us reconnect with ourselves on a regular basis.
Do you have ideas on how to find stillness and peace in your life? Have you ever gone an a retreat? What was the experience like?