A question of balance

I often wonder whether all the commodities we have today makes a world that is not that great for emotional health.  Often I’m wondering these things as I press the start button on the washing machine or the dishwasher or as I Google for information or glide along the road with ease in my faithful car.  So a keen observer would see me smile wryly at these thoughts.  Because we like these things; these elements of modern life that aim to make it all easier.  And so they do.  Sort of.  But maybe they don’t make life simpler. Or maybe they detract from natural things – our innate self … our natural environment … our appreciation of real living.  Or maybe they create those unseen stressors that contribute to emotional disquiet.  And could it be that these elements might contribute to the emotional disquiet experienced by so many in Gen Y and Z – our youth of today?

These questions were certainly what I wrote about in my small children’s book Quiet Magic, something slightly prophetic in that story actually … as we see more and more kids joined to their iPods or iPads and clicking away – unnaturally – with eyes fixed as if glued to the screen.

By contrast, when travelling in Western Australia last year I stopped short in Bayley Street Coolgardie before a plaque in memory of Arthur W. Bayley (1865-1896).  Here was a young ‘guy’ who not only discovered the Coolgardie goldfield but was noted as “successful at sport, a good runner, could throw a hammer further than anyone he met, had strength, stamina and loyalty … was also a gambler and a bare knuckle fighter and a good prospector”.

No wonder Arthur had strength and stamina – he left home in Victoria at 16 and virtually walked the hundreds of kilometers it took for him to fulfill his determined dream.  He knew what it was like to be ‘broke’ and he knew the rewards of effort. It was those experiences that surely built him his reputation for unostentatious generosity accompanied by a wish for luck – attributes that made him many friends.  Unfortunately he met his youthful death from hepatitis and haematemesis, illnesses which if treated medically today would most likely have given him longevity.  A short life but what a life!  Drive, determination, courage – no fear, no depression, no lack of purpose, Arthur just got on with it; and he achieved all this within 31 years of life.

So … out of those thoughts comes the question ‘why’?  Why is it tabled that 1 in 20 teenagers today will suffer major depression?   Why, with all we have available to us today is depression recognised as one of the highest causes of teenage death?  Why, if you Google anxiety, do endless lists of diagnoses appear on the screen, suggesting that anxiety is divisible in categories?

These issues – for all age groups are the matters we have been assisting with at the SMT Centre for 30 years.  We prefer to normalize these emotional reactions; to put them into perspective and to help people find natural calm; to begin to see the upside of reaction and to take control of their emotions through the practice of a safe, natural, effective and lasting process of self care.

I think Arthur Bayley led a successful life because he lived in a natural world.  Yes, he died young of diseases that today could have been prevented or cured.  But he had qualities like “strength, stamina and loyalty” and that pioneering spirit that were cultivated and supported within a more ‘natural’ world.  Maybe balance and moderation in all things are the component solutions?

I am reminded of a beautiful passage from ‘Burial Rites’ by Hannah Kent, a wonderful novel I’m currently enjoying:

“Outside the breeze picks up a handful of my dress’s ashes from the pail and flings them against the blue of the sky.  The grey flakes flutter and dip, and dissolve into the air.  Is this happiness, this warmth against my chest?  Like another’s hand placed there?  I may be able to pretend I am my old self here.”

As part of the unique Stillness Meditation Therapy created from the wisdom of Dr Meares, we teachers place a hand gently upon the troubled chest.  And the meditator’s calm deepens as he or she experiences that reassurance more and because of that contact, more naturalness, more self trust, more ease and ultimate, innate stillness.

Let’s find some balance in today’s world.  Enjoy the privileges of the 21st century but don’t forget to find the best ways to nourish your ‘old self’ your real self, your natural self.