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Parables For The New Conversation (Chapter 11: The Glassblower)

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The following is a chapter from my book ‘Parables For The New Conversation.’ One chapter will be published every Sunday for 36 weeks here on Collective Evolution. (I would recommend you start with Chapter 1 if you haven’t already read it.) I hope my words are a source of enjoyment and inspiration for you, the reader. If perchance you would like to purchase a signed paperback copy of the book, you can do so on my production company website Pandora’s Box Office.

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From the back cover: “Imagine a conversation that centers around possibility—the possibility that we can be more accepting of our own judgments, that we can find unity through our diversity, that we can shed the light of our love on the things we fear most. Imagine a conversation where our greatest polarities are coming together, a meeting place of East and West, of spirituality and materialism, of religion and science, where the stage is being set for a collective leap in consciousness more magnificent than any we have known in our history.

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Now imagine that this conversation honors your uniqueness and frees you to speak from your heart, helping you to navigate your way more deliberately along your distinct path. Imagine that this conversation puts you squarely into the seat of creator—of your fortunes, your relationships, your life—thereby putting the fulfillment of your deepest personal desires well within your grasp.

‘Parables for the New Conversation’ is a spellbinding odyssey through metaphor and prose, personal sagas and historic events, where together author and reader explore the proposal that at its most profound level, life is about learning to consciously manifest the experiences we desire–and thus having fun. The conversation touches on many diverse themes but always circles back to who we are and how our purposes are intertwined, for it is only when we see that our personal desires are perfectly aligned with the destiny of humanity as a whole that we will give ourselves full permission to enjoy the most exquisite experiences life has to offer.”

11. The Glassblower

One day the restaurant chef was taking her afternoon walk down the main street of the village on the island of Allandon when the glassblower popped out of his glassware shop and waved her over with excitement.

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“Come in here for a minute,” he said. “I have something I know you will want.”

The chef followed as the glassblower took her into the back room, where he unveiled a set of wine glasses inlayed in a velvet box.

“These are perhaps the finest wine glasses our shop has ever produced,” he said.

“They look wonderful,” replied the chef. “But the real test would be with some wine.”

“An excellent idea,” said the glassblower. He went down into the cellar and soon emerged with a fine bottle of red wine. He uncorked the bottle, carefully took two wine glasses out of the box, and poured each glass half-full.

As soon as the chef picked up the glass and gently circled the wine around she proclaimed, “Yes, they are exquisite. You are to be congratulated.”

“I didn’t do it. I have gotten too old to blow glass,” he said. “You can congratulate my youngest son. It is his care and love of the craft that produces a work of art such as this.”

“Really? And what about your other sons?”

“Bah! I spent years with my first son, taking him into the shop every day when he was young and training him on all the minute details of glass blowing. But when I tried to get him to take over on his own, it was a disaster. He had no self-confidence. He would get nervous and either blow too hard or too softly, creating monstrous shapes.”

“That is a pity.”

“Yes, so I decided that with my second son I would not make the same mistake. I forbid him to come into the workshop when he was young. But when he came of age and I tried to train him, he was very obstinate and tried to do things his own way. He surely would have put us out of business.”

“So what is it that you did with your youngest son?”

“Nothing!” he said laughing. “I’d given up by then!”

“Given up? Do you mean you sent him away as well?”

The glassblower thought for a moment. “Not really. I suppose whenever he wanted to come in the shop, I let him in, and if he stayed away, I paid no mind.”

“But you never tried to train him?”

“Well—not exactly. If he wanted some instruction, I gave it to him, and if he just wanted to watch me work, that was all right as well.”

“I see,” the chef said. “And he makes all the glasses now?”

“That’s right.”

The chef raised her glass. “Well then, I would like to propose a toast, and give credit where credit is due. Raise your glass with me.”

“Here, here! To my youngest son,” the glassblower said.

“Oh, no,” said the chef smiling. “Not just to your youngest son, but to all three!”

In an earlier time in our history, most learning was fundamentally the acquiring of knowledge from those who had come before. Elders who knew something like a family trade or a secret recipe would pass the information down to younger members who did not know. These interactions were one-directional: the wise teacher would go into a closed ‘teaching’ mode to impart knowledge to the ignorant student who assumed a more open ‘learning’ mode.

While there may always be teachers and students, this model of learning alone is no longer enough for the lessons that are presenting themselves to us today. It is not the kind of model that is going to take us forward, to help us evolve, to move us to new heights of consciousness. No matter the nature of the relationship, the new conversation requires that all participants enter into the learning mode, and remain wholeheartedly open to what comes of the experience.

To be in the learning mode is to be open, curious, and ready to suspend all that we think we know in order to tune into the clues that can lead to a new awareness. Whenever we are teaching something, it is fully beneficial to be in the learning mode ourselves because then we model the very behavior that would help the student to be most receptive to learning. When we ourselves are actively open and ready to embrace whatever comes, to accept what is and to learn something from it, this cannot help but serve as an invitation to the student to let down their defenses, open up and participate in the learning process.

However at the same time, we need to be careful not to get attached to whether the teaching actually gets learned. If we have this attachment, we end up taking the role of teacher too seriously, and we lose an authentic connection with our student. When we are not one with a student, we will get so caught up in implementing our lesson plan that we will be oblivious to the lesson that is there for us.

My first serious romance actually showed me a lot about this, because it mimicked this teacher-student dynamic. In our seven years together I was the teacher, the authority, and in my mind, my younger girlfriend and I would stay on the right track if she just followed my lead. I didn’t feel that she had anything to teach me, and this was only reinforced in our first few years together as she treated me like a savior. But then, as she gained confidence in herself and tried to have a say in our relationship, she started to resent my closed mind. She made efforts to assert herself but I was unwilling to let go of control. I gave little regard to what she had to say, for after all I was the expert on relationships and she was just the stubborn student. If she said she was unhappy, I labeled her a complainer. If she seemed unmotivated, I told her she wasn’t being committed. And so, unwilling to consider my own role in why things weren’t working, our relationship continued to slide. Finally, I tried to revive our emotional attachment to each other in a most desperate way: I proposed to her. I somehow convinced myself that a new commitment would put me back in control and would empower me to lead us out of our problems.

Fortunately it didn’t work out. In fact, asking her to marry me only pushed things to the point of no return. Not only did she refuse to give me an answer, she in fact confessed to me that her eyes had already started to turn elsewhere. When I heard that, I was confronted with the most frightening of truths: I could no longer dictate what happened in the relationship. I had completely lost control. And losing control was the beginning of finding myself, and learning the lessons that this relationship and this person were there to teach me.

Only when I began to accept the fact that the relationship had ended, and there was nothing I could do, did I feel a calm coming over me. From this place it became possible to enter into the learning mode, which, I think, saved me from a prolonged stretch of bitterness. I could see the happiness she had with her new boyfriend, who she eventually married, and could admit to myself that she and I had never experienced that kind of happiness together. My blame turned to gratitude, my fear into relief. Now that we were apart, I was actually more open to what she had to say, and she in turn became more willing to speak freely with me. I was able to examine who I had been in the relationship: controlling, condescending, and painfully serious. I saw that I had endured a relationship that was less than fulfilling—and I was even pushing to continue it—because of my fear of being alone.

It is ironic that it is those situations where we resist looking at ourselves and are convinced we know better that can provide us with the greatest learning. It is precisely our avoidance of the truth of who we are being that we need to shed light on and uncover. Only then can we really step closer to fulfillment, to wholeness, to becoming who we really are. Only after I was forced to surrender and drop my self-image of the wise teacher was real learning able to come to me. In the aftermath of our breakup I started to really listen to her and take her opinion to heart. And once out of the power struggle that was our relationship we developed a deeper friendship, one where we both became more open to what we could learn from each other.

Since this time I am happy to have changed my ways. I am aware of what my life would be like if I had remained the way I was. I have let go of much of my need to control, and have experienced far greater enjoyment in my relationships as a result. And so I hold my first major break-up as one of the greatest gifts I have ever received in my life, despite how difficult it was at the time. Being challenged with some difficulty is more the rule of profound learning than the exception. Richard Bach said there is always a gift waiting for us behind all problems. We can all reap great benefits from our difficult and painful events, every single one. The learning is always sitting there, waiting for us to pluck it, but it requires us to relinquish control. When we let go and remain ready to learn and evolve, then we are in flow with life itself.

So entering the learning mode is not easy. It is a call to courage because the unknown can be scary. For most of us, growing up has meant becoming suspicious and fearful of the unknown. But the learning that we deeply long for, which moves us into the realm of the Dao Self, is founded on the bridge we build across the unknown. When we always cling to ‘going with what we know,’ we are actually cutting ourselves off from the vast expanse of experiences that life offers. Life in the known eventually becomes stale and ordinary. But what’s worse, we become more and more convinced that this is the only life that is available to us. Our Ego Self will allow us to learn some things, but within safe boundaries, with fairly predictable results. If we follow this we usually only learn things that confirm our limited beliefs. When we try to learn on our terms rather than on life’s terms, we have not relinquished control. Our Ego Self tries to convince us that we need to be saved from the unknown. It promotes a world that is familiar, that we are competent in, that we have control over. It is easy to be tempted by this, but in truth this is a great disservice to our lives because it keeps us living in fear.

Instead of getting saved from the unknown, I believe what we truly need is to be saved from the known, from the prison that we have trapped ourselves in, our own limited way of looking at ourselves. And let us make no mistake, we all have a limited way of looking at ourselves. It is a condition of being human. When we begin to loosen up and free ourselves from the known, from certainty, that is when life begins to get magical, and when learning really dazzles us. It’s not possible to reach mastery until we first acknowledge mystery. To have the courage to say “I don’t know” opens up the vastness of what there is still to learn. And the more we learn in this way, the bigger becomes the body of what we don’t know, until we see the whole universe as a treasure chest of mysteries to endlessly excite our curiosity.

Whenever we escape from the known, some sensation of fear is inevitable while we get our bearings within the unfamiliar. For what is growth except expanding oneself into unfamiliar territory? And while I believe we can get a bit more comfortable with our fear, we never really get used to unfamiliarity. If we were used to it, it would have ceased to be unfamiliar.

Living life as a daring adventure is to actually seek out unfamiliarity, understanding that any suffering we experience is of our own making. As we let go of the habit of blaming external events or people for our suffering, peace comes more quickly, and we go straight to explore what we have to learn. Surrender is no longer simply giving up and quitting, but rather migrating to an expanded version of ourselves.

And if we are not prepared to seek out unfamiliarity, life itself will give us a nudge now and then. If our resistance is strong, the current of life will twist and turn us, and eventually we will be thrown overboard. For this we should be thankful, because if life always played out the way we thought it should, we probably wouldn’t learn very much. It’s only when we are made to come to grips with a world that does not conform to our restricted vision that real learning and growth are made possible.

Of course we have a choice. We can always refuse the gift of learning. We can choose to stay in the jail cell of our attachments and blame, gripped by our own need to control, and serve a bit more time. But when we don’t take the gift, when we resist the lesson, it will keep showing up in our lives until we stop resisting what it is trying to tell us. It is fascinating to look back on our lives and see how some patterns repeat themselves over and over and over again. When the lesson is not learned, and we blame circumstances or other people for our suffering, it is inevitably going to recur. When we have had enough and finally decide to get it, we can move on to the next lesson.

This is the flow of life. The current of the river brings us forward into new adventures, and we navigate on our raft with the oar of resistance. All learning is letting go of resistance, of fear, and becoming more skillful at going with the flow. One would think that this would soon become easy for us. But it does not. Rapids and whitewater appear as our Ego Self constantly confounds our attempts to let go of control, employing new tricks to address each new situation. We are vulnerable at any point in our evolution to falling back or getting stuck. This is because our Ego Self is skilled at fooling us into thinking that it represents our true self, even though we learn time and again that it does not.

And so in a way life comes down to learning, and learning comes back to discovering who we are. It’s a perpetual fearing and overcoming, doing and reflecting, closing and opening. The new conversation follows this flow of action and reflection. We are encouraged to reflect on the actions we have taken in the world, and are inspired to act on these reflections. In the space of trust we are able to provide each other with an honest perspective on who we are being, one that is often exceptionally difficult to see on our own. This is what really helps us to move more quickly along the path towards an ever-expanding vision of our self.

 We reach the end of this path when we find ourselves completely open to everyone and everything around us, when everything that is has become fully acceptable and we can find no resistance within ourselves, even if we actively seek it out. How will you know for sure when you have reached the end of your path, and you can finally retire from the trials and tribulations of learning and rest on your laurels? No need for concern. If your heart is still beating, then you can be sure that there’s still another transformative lesson out there waiting for you.

Move on to Chapter 12…

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Alternative News

Our Biology Responds To Events Before They Even Happen

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    Multiple experiments have shown strong evidence for precognition in several different ways. One of them comes in the form of activity within the heart and the brain responding to events before they even happen.

  • Reflect On:

    Do we have extra human capacities we are unaware of? Perhaps we can learn them, develop them, and use them for good. Perhaps when the human race is ready, we will start learning more.

Is precognition real? There are many examples suggesting that yes, it is. The remote viewing program conducted by the CIA in conjunction with Stanford University was a good example of that.  After its declassification in 1995, or at least partial declassification, the Department of Defense and those involved revealed an exceptionally high success rate:

To summarize, over the years, the back-and-forth criticism of protocols, refinement of methods, and successful replication of this type of remote viewing in independent laboratories has yielded considerable scientific evidence for the reality of the (remote viewing) phenomenon. Adding to the strength of these results was the discovery that a growing number of individuals could be found to demonstrate high-quality remote viewing, often to their own surprise… The development of this capability at SRI has evolved to the point where visiting CIA personnel with no previous exposure to such concepts have performed well under controlled laboratory conditions. (source)

The kicker? Part of remote viewing involves peering into future events as well as events that happened in the past.

It’s not only within the Department of Defense that we find this stuff, but a lot of science is emerging on this subject as well.

For example, a study (meta analysis) published in the journal Frontiers in Human Neuroscience titled “Predicting the unpredictable: critical analysis and practical implications of predictive anticipatory activity” examined a number of experiments regarding this phenomenon that were conducted by several different laboratories. These experiments indicate that the human body can actually detect randomly delivered stimuli that occur 1-10 seconds in advance. In other words, the human body seems to know of an event and reacts to the event before it has occurred. What occurs in the human body before these events are physiological changes that are measured regarding the cardiopulmonary, the skin, and the nervous system.

A few years ago, the chief scientist at the Institute of Noetic Sciences, Dr. Dean Radin, visited the scientists over at HearthMath Institute and shared the results of one of his studies. Radin is also one of multiple scientists who authored the paper above. These studies, as mentioned above, tracked the autonomic nervous system, physiological changes, etc.

Scientists at HeartMath Institute (HMI) added more protocols, which included measuring participants’ brain waves (EEG), their hearts’ electrical activity (ECG), and their heart rate variability (HRV).

As HMI explains:

Twenty-six adults experienced in using HeartMath techniques and who could sustain a heart-coherent state completed two rounds of study protocols approximately two weeks apart. Half of the participants completed the protocols after they intentionally achieved a heart-coherent state for 10 minutes. The other half completed the same procedures without first achieving heart coherence. Then they reversed the process for the second round of monitoring, with the first group not becoming heart-coherent before completing the protocols and the second group becoming heart-coherent before. The point was to test whether heart coherence affected the results of the experiment.

Participants were told the study’s purpose was to test stress reactions and were unaware of its actual purpose. (This practice meets institutional-review-board standards.) Each participant sat at a computer and was instructed to click a mouse when ready to begin.

The screen stayed blank for six seconds. The participant’s physiological data was recorded by a special software program, and then, one by one, a series of 45 pictures was displayed on the screen. Each picture, displayed for 3 seconds, evoked either a strong emotional reaction or a calm state. After each picture, the screen went blank for 10 seconds. Participants repeated this process for all 45 pictures, 30 of which were known to evoke a calm response and 15 a strong emotional response.

The Results

The results of the experiment were fascinating to say the least. The participants’ brains and hearts responded to information about the emotional quality of the pictures before the computer flashed them (random selection). This means that the heart and brain were both responding to future events. The results indicated that the responses happened, on average, 4.8 seconds before the computer selected the pictures.

How mind-altering is that?

Even more profound, perhaps, was data showing the heart received information before the brain. “It is first registered from the heart,” Rollin McCraty Ph.D. explained, “then up to the brain (emotional and pre-frontal cortex), where we can logically relate what we are intuiting, then finally down to the gut (or where something stirs).”

Another significant study (meta-analysis) that was published in Journal of Parapsychology by Charles Honorton and Diane C. Ferrari in 1989 examined a number of studies that were published between 1935 and 1987. The studies involved individuals’ attempts to predict “the identity of target stimuli selected randomly over intervals ranging from several hundred million seconds to one year following the individuals responses.” These authors investigated over 300 studies conducted by over 60 authors, using approximately 2 million individual trials by more than 50,000 people. (source)

It concluded that their analysis of precognition experiments “confirms the existence of a small but highly significant precognition effect. The effect appears to be repeatable; significant outcomes are reported by 40 investigators using a variety of methodological paradigms and subject populations. The precognition effect is not merely an unexplained departure from a theoretical chance baseline, but rather is an effect that covaries with factors known to influence more familiar aspects of human performance.” (source)

The Takeaway

“There seems to be a deep concern that the whole field will be tarnished by studying a phenomenon that is tainted by its association with superstition, spiritualism and magic. Protecting against this possibility sometimes seems more important than encouraging scientific exploration or protecting academic freedom. But this may be changing.”
 Cassandra Vieten, PhD and President/CEO at the Institute of Noetic Sciences (source)

We are living in a day and age where new information and evidence are constantly emerging, challenging what we once thought was real or what we think we know about ourselves as human beings.  It’s best to keep an open mind. Perhaps there are aspects of ourselves and our consciousness that have yet to be discovered. Perhaps if we learn and grow from these studies, they can help us better ourselves and others.

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Consciousness

Studies Show That Writing In A Journal Can Benefit Your Emotional & Physical Well-Being

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If you have read any of my previous articles, you may already know that I am a huge advocate of keeping a journal, or diary or notebook – whichever term you like best to describe the act of writing out your thoughts on paper, or if you prefer, typing them out on a screen.

Personally, journaling is something that has helped me get through some really tough times in my life and is also a great tool for just allowing some new perspective and a space to vent without judgment or advice. But for all of those skeptics out there who don’t understand how something like this could actually help, well, there’s science to prove it.

Scientific Evidence To Prove How Journaling Helps

Psychologists from the University of California were able to investigate the effect of journaling by inviting 20 volunteers to visit the lab for a brain scan before asking them to write for 20 minutes a day for four consecutive days. Half of the participants wrote about a fairly recent emotional experience, while the other half of the participants wrote about something neutral.

Those who chose to write about an emotional experience showed more activity in the part of the brain called the right ventrolateral prefrontal cortex. In turn, this relaxed neural activity that is linked to strong emotional feelings.

According to Lieberman, men seemed to benefit from writing about their feelings more so than women, and writing by hand seemed to have a bigger effect than typing on a keyboard. That’s an interesting note: could men benefit from journaling more because in general they tend to keep their feelings to themselves? A journal can certainly act as a safe space for emotionally deprived men to vent.

“Men tend to show greater benefits and that is a bit counterintuitive. But the reason might be that women more freely put their feelings into words, so this is less of a novel experience for them. For men it’s more of a novelty,” Lieberman said.

Aside from drastic improvements to your mood and emotional well-being, writing out your thoughts and feelings regularly can actually benefit your physical health as well. Journaling can increase your chance of fighting specific diseases like asthma, rheumatoid arthritis, AIDS and cancer. Amazingly, it can even help physical wounds heal faster.

A study conducted in 2013 found that 76% of adults who spent 20 minutes a day journaling for three days in a row before a scheduled medical biopsy were fully healed 11 days later. On the other hand, 58% of the control group had not yet recovered. The study concluded that just one hour of writing about a distressing event helped the participants to better understand the events and reduce stress levels.

Lead researcher on expressive writing at the University of Texas and author of Writing To Heal, James W. Pennebaker, has found that by translating our experiences into our own language by writing it out, we are able to make the experience more comprehendible.

Pennebaker says: “Emotional upheavals touch every part of our lives. You don’t just lose a job, you don’t just get divorced. These things affect all aspects of who we are — our financial situation, our relationships with others, our views of ourselves…writing helps us focus and organize the experience.”

The Most Efficient Way To Cope With A Big Life Change Is To Journal

Journaling will help you to get over a break-up or cope with other up and down relationships in your life. While it may seem to be overanalyzing, studies have shown that venting about a past relationship actually helps to speed up emotional recovery and can help build a stronger sense of self-identity following a break-up. I don’t know about you, but this is something that I wish I would have done after break-ups that leave you feeling lost and like you don’t know who you are anymore.

By venting I don’t mean to your friends. While this certainly can help, the act of writing, with a pen or pencil, will provide you with the most health benefits.

“Writing accesses the left hemisphere of the brain, which is analytical and rational,” Maud Purcell, a psychotherapist and journaling expert, told Fast Company. “While your left brain is occupied, your right brain is free to do what it does best, i.e. create, intuit, and feel. In this way, writing removes mental blocks and allows us to use more of our brainpower to better understand ourselves and the world around us.”

Journaling Can Provide Long-Term Benefits

Journaling helps you to cope with the experience at hand but it can also help to prepare you to face similar experiences in the future.

“Journal therapy is all about using personal material as a way of documenting an experience, and learning more about yourself in the process,” Kathleen Adams, a psychotherapist and author of Journal to the Self, told the Huffington Post. “It lets us say what’s on our minds and helps us get — and stay — healthy through listening to our inner desires and needs.”

The process of journaling allows you to get to know yourself through your feelings and experiences. It’s just plain and simply writing out your feelings. This is different than just thinking because it is more streamline; you aren’t going back and forth or writing the same thing down over and over again.

You can start right now, or the next time you’re feeling particularly stressed about something. It’s so simple you might as well give it a shot! What do you have to lose? It just might help you more than you might have imagined! Plus, wouldn’t it be fun to look back at the big events that happened in your life in 20 years or longer and see how you were able to deal with the situations? It could even provide you with some insight on how to handle situations you are faced with in the future.

We are constantly being faced with challenges. This is what life is all about, but our reactions to those challenges is what defines who we are. Are we strong and capable or are we weak and playing a victim? The choice is ours!

Much Love

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Consciousness

Loneliness: A Health Problem That Could Be Deadlier Than Obesity, Study Says

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Loneliness can reliably be linked to a significant increase in the risk of early mortality, according to a study at Brigham Young University. Head author, Julianne Holt-Lunstad, notes that “substantial evidence now indicates that individuals lacking social connections (both objective and subjective social isolation) are at risk for premature mortality.”

Holt-Lunstad believes the risks associated with loneliness are already greater than such established dangers as obesity:

Several decades ago scientists who observed widespread dietary and behavior changes raised warnings about obesity and related health problems. The present obesity epidemic had been predicted. Obesity now receives constant coverage in the media and in public health policy. The current status of research on the risks of loneliness and social isolation is similar to that of research on obesity 3 decades ago… Current evidence indicates that heightened risk for mortality from a lack of social relationships is greater than that from obesity.

Furthermore, she warns that “researchers have predicted that loneliness will reach epidemic proportions by 2030 unless action is taken.”

Why Are We So Isolated From Each Other?

From the long view, it can be said that Western civilization as a whole has fostered a gradual disintegration of our physical and social ties. With an emphasis on individual goals and an almost fanatical regard for personal achievement, the traditional institutions of family and community and their capacity to provide their members with a sense of belonging and shared purpose have become significantly fragmented.

The family unit has gone from large generations-linked mutual support systems to small and immediate units, sometimes involving single parents whose necessities make it very difficult to create a stable home environment for their children. Add to that the fact that more and more people are not even building families, and our society has more people living alone than at any other time in history. This includes the elderly, who are less likely to find a ‘fit’ living within their children’s families than ever before.

The decline of the ‘community’ is perhaps as significant as the disintegration of the family unit. In Western-style communities, people work as a collection of individual units interacting by specific functions rather than as an interrelated whole with a significant shared identity. Naturally, attempts are made today to join or build ‘communities’ all the time, but like the Meetup model, they are founded on the gathering of select people with similar interests and purposes, rather than a shared embrace of all people within a certain geographical area.

The Rise of Social Media

I believe the rise in prominence of social media has in part been fuelled by the sense of alienation we have long felt within our modern society. I don’t believe social media is the root cause of our loneliness, as some speculate, but rather a symptom of this much longer-standing social problem. Connecting via chats and web pages is just something that we have gotten into the habit of reaching for since it is so immediately accessible. But like any quick fix, it does not end up fulfilling our deeper needs, either individually or as a society.

If we see that our society has been slowly disintegrating over hundreds of years, then it becomes incumbent upon us as a society (if we can still even identify ourselves with our ‘society’) to take measures to remedy this situation. What those measures might be, though, given how things seem to be trending, is a matter of great conjecture.

On Being Alone  

One approach is to first acknowledge that Western society’s emphasis on the individual is not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, I believe that the development of personal integrity, creativity, and autonomy is a critical step in the evolution of human consciousness. Learning how to be alone with oneself is a part of that process. In his work entitled Pensées, French philosopher Blaise Pascal observed that “All of humanity’s problems stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone.”

As evidenced by Eastern gurus and mystics, one can be perfectly content in isolation. This can be greatly facilitated by the practice of meditation and other such methods that give us a direct perception of our energetic connectedness not only with other people, but with all things. In this higher state, the damaging emotional impact of loneliness and social isolation are not experienced.

Our Next Step

Still, the life of the yogi remains for the few. The rest of us, it seems, have come to this planet to interact, share, and love. And we have not incarnated into this dense physical world to get better at virtual relationships. At this stage, we have perhaps gotten a bit too accustomed to social isolation for our own good.

Holt-Lunstad notes that “although living alone can offer conveniences and advantages for an individual, this meta-analysis indicates that physical health is not among them.” She also cites another study that “has demonstrated higher survival rates for those who are more socially connected.” And then there is the seminal 75-Year Harvard University study, where “it was universally clear that without loving and supportive relationships, men in the study were not happy.” The message is becoming clear: we need to come together.

We are perhaps at a larger turning point in our development than most of us realize. It seems that we have reached the extreme edge of the exploration of individualism, and we are readying to move into greater balance with a collective identity. This is not a return to traditional ways, but rather a synthesis of our growth as individuals with the shared experience we are now hungering for. This synthesis signifies the next stage of our evolution.

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