Mindfulness and Moderation in Contemporary Times
What do the Kardashians and the iPad have in common? The iconic and radical Kardashians series first aired on TV on October 14, 2007 and the magical and revolutionary iPad was first released on April 3, 2010. Both inform, engage and entertain. Heavily diversified, they are everywhere providing content for media consumption and limitless distraction with mindless material. The Kardashians, like the content of many apps available on the iPad, involve virtual people on a screen. They have amassed phenomenal fame and status and are global icons or brands. Both Apple and the Kardashians are brilliant business empires, successfully infiltrating millions of homes by selling a lifestyle and maintaining an incessant presence.
My son, however, believes that the Kardashians are a microcosm of what is wrong with society while his girlfriend shares her feelings about the allure that they hold for her. If indeed they may be considered to be the worst of what society offers, the iPad in this regard differs for it can provide some educational benefits. However, when observing toddlers and even young babies mesmerized by the scintillating imagery and sound on their own iPad (a virtual soother), I can’t help but question how we have arrived at this juncture of superficiality and one-dimensional communication and focus?
It has become commonplace to see extremely tech savvy young children totally captivated by the tablet or smartphone. I once observed across the aisle on a five-hour flight a very quiet two-year old (an anomaly). This little girl was completely hypnotized by her screen and sadly her parents did not engage with her at all. I found this situation with the “portable babysitter” to be very disconcerting and unnerving. Today it is wide spread to see parents in restaurants focused on their phones while their children play on their own devices. My one-year old great-nephew is adept at navigating the touchscreen, swiping and tapping it. The potential detriment to the social-emotional development of the child because of the limited sensory environment of the iPad combined with the frequency and duration of usage is concerning. Most disturbing is the potential for the disconnect from that which is truly of value: genuine face-to-face social interaction, direct human-to-human communication with others and true connection with one’s authentic Self.
If we don’t remain cognizant of how the Kardashians hook us with their false identities and how the iPad pulls our consciousness outward, we risk the separation from our essential nature and something precious may become lost from so much time devoted to these one-dimensional worlds. But when we connect with our authentic self that transcends the body and mind, we access that which is pure, unchanging, permanent, and perfect. We are calm, clear, and centered. Operating from our authentic self, we tap into our inner resources of deep joy and peace and are able to navigate life’s challenges with grace and equanimity. When we interact with others with full presence and honesty we are not only in union with our true nature but our hearts align and real connection is created. But how can we do this if we are so focused on “reality tv” (an oxymoron) or on our various devices?
Although the origins of yoga are speculated to date back to pre-Vedic Indian traditions, the actual date of its development is difficult to pinpoint. Suffice to say that yoga is at least several thousands of years old. If we choose to use the tools and practices of this age-old science, art and discipline, we learn how to access our inner authentic self and not be mindlessly influenced by the current novelties of our times. Yoga teaches how to use our own internal mechanism of self-regulation. For the young child, teen or adult, practising yoga, a hands-on activity, is key for the development of sensory-motor and visual motor skills and for learning to self-regulate.
Through the consistent practice of yoga, self-acceptance flourishes and self-esteem increases. We do not need to follow others obsessively on TV, Instagram and Facebook and become influenced or negatively affected by what we see. Instead, we can consciously choose to practice yoga and minimize the impact and possible side effects of too much TV or mobile devices. We can observe people like the Kardashians and reflect on the illusory nature of their brand, and we can use our iPads and other devices while also monitoring our children’s and our own usage. Then we can access all the riches and richness of our contemporary times – and our inner selves – as we practise mindfulness and moderation in all that we do.
“To see a world in a grain of sand and heaven in a wild flower, Hold infinity in the palm of your hand and eternity in an hour.” – William Blake