TED talks are one of those rare modern phenomenas, that demonstrate the great positive power of the internet. I love listening to the talks and there’s so much inspiration to be found on this website (see below for some of my favourites). There isn’t too much else that can be said about it, other than anyone who is interested in anything should check it out at some point. There really is something for everyone and I guarantee many of the speakers will make you feel more connected to humankind and glad to be alive – a big promise, but one that I believe to be true.
In contrast, I have found that it is increasingly easy to become disheartened and disenchanted by the 24 hour news that is broadcast everywhere, often showcasing the worst of human nature. Reading articles such as ‘News is bad for you …’ by Rolf Dobelli made me think twice about spending my time consuming the stories that make up the news, as they just confirmed what I already felt and experienced. It is hard to ignore the pull of the media, though.
My new iPhone constantly has headlines flashing up from news outlets all over the world and those clever snippets sure do their job alright, enticing me into reading the whole article, even though it has no real significance or bearing on my life in that moment other than to feed the ‘OMG! What is the world coming to?’ reaction. Then there’s the inevitable, ‘The world is turing to *!@$! We’re all doomed!’
As you can tell, I generally err on the side of drama; yet another reason why the news is probably not the best reading material for keeping me rational and sane. Conversely, one of the first lessons I learnt as part of my mindfulness practise was to stop worrying about the whole world and it’s problems and focus on myself. A concept which is alien to most of us in this day and age.
At the start of my MBSR course, our fantastic teacher – Dr. Colette Power – asked our group, ‘Why are you doing this course?’
A life time of conditioning kicked in and my honest response was, ‘So I can eventually teach the children in my class and help them with the stresses that come with growing up today.’ The rest of the group also shared various ways in which their practice could benefit themselves, but also their wider family, community or work-place.
She then asked the group members to do something that no one had asked us to do in a very long time. She asked us to do the practise just for ourselves initially, to take some time out of everyday to be kind to ourselves. I have to say, that it was difficult at first to not feel guilty, selfish or undeserving of the time it takes to develop a mindfulness practise. After all, there is so much to do and so many problems in the world that need our attention to solve them, but it didn’t take long before I started to feel the benefit of doing the practise for myself. I also noticed the affect a calmer, happier Mum/teacher/wife had on the people around me.
The wonderful thing is, that I am still in touch with lots of the people from that group and we have all fulfilled our wishes to develop our mindfulness practise and share it with other people, to help them in some way, but it all started with ourselves. In one of my favourite TED talks, Andy Puddicombe describes the transformative power of taking a short amount of time out each day to stop and do nothing. No news, no headlines, just you.