We are living an era of chaos and abundance, learning to accept opposite forces which are shaping everything that makes our world. We are being bombarded with crisis news, climate strike, the global political mayhem, the world-wide fear of a possible pandemic which overshadow humanities beauty and optimism to thrive, to enjoy.
Konstantinos (www.konstantinosc.com) would ask as we commence for a yoga session on the magical island of Paros ; “How did you enjoy your free time? What was it you did to invoke joy?” This very provocative inquiry was one of the enlightening take-aways from the week-long retreat of yoga, making new friends, self-reflection, reading, playing dolphin in the ocean and feeling energized, resilient and vulnerable all at once. I had taken the time off work and my personal “duties” to arrive on the island but it was not before the 3rd day into the retreat that I could arrive to “myself”. It is the practice and the experience that makes us grow to be bigger than the sum of our parts and I call this self-accumulation. The sweat as well as the breath are a part of self-accumulation through the yoga experience. No deeper meaning attached and yet it is profoundly deep, we encounter our selves at the edge of our experiences. Through this yielding; the information, the data, the training and the learning start making sense. The self-accumulation happens at the edge where risk adversity disappears, and all becomes possible. The edge enables diversity, creativity, progress and authenticity for the self and yet does not define a selfish act or ideation and the unequivocal self at the edge is free to grow and to connect. The edge is also where we witness joy, where there is a sense of surrender as well as standing up, united in harmony. It is one of those feelings that you grasp as you lose only to recover ; creating a loop of vitality.
The news of despair, the social media, manipulated consumption are pathways to establishing a stereotype where unity is maintained by control, leaving little room for ingenuity. The thought processes are streamlined, the fear rules, anxiety overtakes and once summoned we become easily employed and even prisoned. Most of the time our modern and urban lives define distinctive comfort zones, but we are also learning how fragile the system has become. The commons taken for granted as if they were not a part of creation, the gluttony of accumulating stuff over self and experience, physical and spiritual immobility is not in favor of our lives if we refrain from noticing the details, overlooking creativity, discounting our freedom to choose what really is important.
Paul Polman on Twitter says “Your choice and actions will define whether humanity faces dystopian catastrophe, or survives by demanding and building a restorative, regenerative world” I could not agree more that we vote, chose and are accountable for our choices; even daily ones. As Harari says in his book “ The modern capitalist economy must constantly increase production if it is to survive, like a shark that must swim or suffocate. Yet it is not enough just to produce. Somebody must also buy the products, or industrialists and investors alike will go bust” This is why the system demands design and manufacturing which does not last, and this is exactly why our behavior shapes the system and we can work it to take a reverse course. We can get rid of the excess in our lives to invite space for creativity, connections, and empathy and we can always start by noticing and moving to places where we are not fully at ease.
- Go to your closet and pull out 5 random clothes – check the labels, see where they we made and what their contents are.
- Get one of your worn-in jeans and trace your body`s imprint on them – maybe the whiskers on the front from too much sitting down, your wallet`s shadow on your back pocket…and try to remember one of your special days wearing these same jeans.
- Take one item from your wardrobe to give as a gift to a loved one and see how you feel parting with one of your ‘things’.
- Choose 5 pieces that you have not worn in the last 6 months and think back on your purchasing impulse at the time you have bought them.
“Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize that they were the big things.” Says Robert Brault on the cover of the Flow Magazine. Simple exercises will awaken us to realize that we can prefer to be on the edge and chose otherwise – and that very edge is where another possibility for joy exits.