Today we ask that you focus on being receptive.
Throughout your reality, there exists a dualistic rhythm in which all things move from “active” states to “passive,” or “receptive” states.
Night follows day. The tide moves in and out. You inhale and exhale. You wake and sleep. Fall and winter follow spring and summer. Everywhere you look in nature, you will see this simple rhythm.
Expand, contract. Grow, rest. Move, be still.
Unfortunately, many modern humans have fallen out of this rhythm. Society strongly favors the “active” mode of being. Humans are encouraged and expected to be continuously active, to be busy all the time, and to sleep minimally. Caffeine and pharmaceutical drugs assist in the drive toward continuous activity.
But you cannot go against the most fundamental pattern of nature without causing damage.
Human bodies are not adapted to a lifestyle of constant activity. Nothing in nature is. To do so places an intolerable strain on the body, over time. The result is endemic illness, both physical and mental. The modern pharmaceutical industry works to ameliorate these symptoms, but drugs can only do so much. Societies that promote constant activity bear a great burden of human illness.
A culture of continuous growth, activity, and consumption also, of course, places a terrible strain on natural resources and the environment — the great looming crisis of the modern era.
What can be done about this?
In order to be healthy and balanced, all living things require periods of rest and receptivity. There is no exception to this rule. Even machines cannot be operated continuously without damage. Even computers must be put to “sleep” or shut off when not in use.
It does not matter what your society has to say about “laziness”, or how continuous activity is lauded as a sign of a good work ethic and virtue.
Many things in human history have been praised as virtuous. Soldiers were praised for massacres, for killing and enslaving enemies. Christians were praised for killing infidels, burning witches, and generally torturing and persecuting the innocent as a part of their faith. Just because your culture says that something is virtuous, does not make it so.
Just because your culture lauds the caffeine-drinking insomniac workaholic as virtuous, does not make it so.
When you watch television or movies from the past, you will see doctors smoking cigarettes, men demeaning and objectifying women, and appalling racial stereotypes. Some of these behaviors will seem laughable, others offensive. How could people not know better?
In those time periods, those were simply the cultural norms. People were taught that smoking cigarettes, misogyny, and racism were normal. Some questioned this, but most believed that anything their culture promoted must be good.
In the future, people will look back at this time, and they will also wonder why people did not know better. They will focus in particular on the level of disease in your society — cancer, diabetes, heart disease, stress-related illness, mental illness. The extreme dependence on pharmaceutical drugs will be questioned. They will see clearly the connection between these illnesses, and a culture of constant activity and consumption. They will also be incredulous at the disregard for the environment, but this goes hand in hand with a culture that is out of sync with the rhythms of the natural world.
How can you change this, right now, in your daily life?
How can you promote healthy balance for yourself?
It is simple. Activity must be followed by rest, as surely as the night follows the day.
Watch animals. They rest. They sleep. They instinctively understand that it is good for them.
Pay attention to the rhythms and cycles of the year. Some times are naturally more active, others are naturally more passive and receptive. There is a time to plant, a time to reap, and a time to let the field lay fallow.
If you feel burned out and overwhelmed, if you cannot sleep at night and suffer from anxiety, if you are always burning the candle at both ends but still feel like you can never do enough or keep up — this is not good, no matter what your society has to say about it.
You cannot listen to your culture. Historically, human cultural norms have supported grossly destructive behavior.
You must instead listen to the voice inside.
That voice can only be accessed when you are quiet, still, and receptive.
If you are constantly active, there is no space, no stillness, for that voice to be heard.
And that is the greatest misfortune of a life of constant activity and distraction. It is why many people feel lost and anxious.
Constant activity robs you of the richness and joy of life. It means you never stop to smell the roses, to enjoy the sunrise, or notice how very good it is to eat a simple meal.
Constant activity even robs childhood of its joys, leading to children who are as anxious, overwhelmed and distracted as their parents. Mostly this is due to a lack of the simple pleasure of unstructured time, which used to be a sacred refuge of childhood. It is also due to a lack of sleep and rest. Overstimulated, over-scheduled children often do not rest and sleep well.
More than anything, constant activity robs you of the ability to hear your heart, and your spirit. And without that internal compass, you will feel lost.
Please slow down. Let active periods be followed by truly restful periods — and that does not happen in front of your TV, computer, or phone. Turn off the devices, and let yourself rest.
Even machines need to recharge their batteries. So do you.