Tag Archives: Distraction

Reconnecting to the web of life

Humanity’s disconnect to the web of life, the lack of respect and awareness for the many parts of the bigger whole, has got us into a pretty dire predicament.

Some theorists would argue that man is a predator by nature and that it is all about the survival of the fittest, falsely quoting Darwin who was in reality very much aware of the intricate inter-connection of all living things.

Any species which fails to find its niche in the web of life becomes extinct because the earth or “creation intelligence” always finds a means of discarding that which becomes a threat to everything else. It is something you become acutely aware of by spending alone time in nature or in the wilds.

I’ve had some of my deepest spiritual experiences while hiking alone in the Pyrenees mountains, the Spanish Camino and the African bush where simply by observation you begin to realize that every plant, beetle, bird, antelope or predator is there for a reason and plays its small part in sustaining life as a whole.


My theory is that humanity’s disconnect from the web of life is partly the result of alienation from nature and the “materialist-theoretical” approach to religion rather than intuitive spirituality that our forebears practised in the mystic traditions.

As hundreds of millions of people continue to move to urban areas there is a real danger that the alienation from our true destiny will continue. A growing number of people in the wealthier countries are living alone in apartments and getting lonelier and lonelier as they grow older and their already fragile support network of friends starts falling away.

In my previous blog I mentioned how much we are influenced and shaped by the people around us. Our health, our happiness and our lifespan depend on how well we are accepted, integrated and valued in that community we cherish. Loneliness is perceived as physical pain and is responsible for many psychological disorders. Read this interesting report on what people in Sardinia seem to be getting just right and why many of them stay healthy well over the age of a 100.

The biggest challenge faced by humanity is to rediscover that bond to the web of life and to make the switch from predator to custodian, protector and nurturer. Here are just some ways of reconnecting:

  • Sitting meditation with emphasis on the natural breathing sequence of inhaling and exhaling
  • Walking “things off” and reconnecting with your natural rhythm on a longer hike, preferably for several days. Its a wonderful way of detoxing your mind and body.
  • Any of the body arts such as yoga, taiji and qi gong have been practised and perfected over many generations as a way of reconnecting with your mind and body.
  • When outdoors in nature find just one sound to concentrate your mind on. It could be a bird chirping or the wind blowing through the trees. You will feel very relaxed after only a few minutes.

I had an amazing experience on one of my walks when I connected to a blackbird singing in a tree nearby. It responded by following me for several kilometres, hopping from tree to tree and on the track ahead. It was an amazing experience of connection.


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The power of alignment versus distraction

A few days ago our daughter came home from school telling me this strange story: A Romanian gang was abducting innocent young children. In one incident a blonde young girl had been abducted in a shopping centre, had her hair cut in the toilet, drugged and then dressed-up as a gypsy. She was only saved at the last minute when a warning was given on the intercom and all the doors to the shopping centre had been closed. Police, so the story, have asked the public to look out for a white van with eastern European occupants driving around the vicinity of shopping malls.

Had I not heard exactly the same story in a South African version some years back, I would probably have taken the story seriously. Fact is police in Germany had to issue a warning that the story was an absolute hoax after it made its rounds over countless “Whats-App” and “SMS” messages, causing near panic among schoolchildren and parents.

It is just one example of the power of distraction in today’s world of social media. Whoever started this urban myth either thought it a joke or deliberately planned sowing fear and panic. But that this urban myth could make its way to Germany after I had heard it for the first time about ten years ago had me stupefied. Without the Internet such urban myths were checked and double-checked by news desks and seldom, if ever made their way into the public domain.

This brings me to my point. Never before have we been confronted by such a plethora of electronic media and other distractions. We humans are especially prone to visual stimulation that has us fixated to a screen, depending what it is. Our two teenagers have a really hard time when we put our foot down in limiting X-Box, TV or smart phone chatting.

But seriously, how often do we catch ourselves checking our emails and facebook accounts per day? We are gradually forgetting to experience the wonders of life in the here-and-now. We are becoming prey to the sway of whatever emotion is being put out there.



A recent edition of the “Shambhala Sun” ran a cover story on the “modern obsession” of distraction. It provides for some interesting reading. Buddhist teacher Judy Lief recommends that letting go of all our distractions and entertainments is the path to awakening. There seems to be a deeper truth we’re distracting ourselves from, says the famous Vietnamese monk Thich Nhat Hanh.

Here are some tips on how you can avoid the power of distraction and to stay in alignment:

  • Concentrate on your breathing. Is it coming in short bursts from your throat or chest (fear and anxiety) or is it centred in your lower stomach (relaxation, ease of mind)

  • How is your body posture? By imagining the centre of your head connected with an invisible string to your higher self and the centre of your feet grounded to a point deep in the earth, you will feel a wave of energy flowing through your body. It is a complete contrast to being slumped over a desk or in a chair, and make you really feel your body.

  • Resolve to listen more rather than talking and giving an immediate response

  • Take time out from all those distractions such as iPhones and iPods

  • Take a walk in nature. Listen to the huge variety of birds, insects or other animals, sense the smell of fresh blossoms, feel the wind on your skin. Feel alive. Experience the here-and-now. What a wonderful experience to be living!






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