Communicating In Our Fast-paced World: How to Find Balance
It’s amazing how quickly the world around us has changed as we progressively move forward in the age of information. Technology has brought many great advancements, but at the same time begs the most basic question: Are we moving further away from the ability to truly connect and communicate with those around us?
Look around you: every day you can bear witness to the impact that smartphones and social media are having on our society. Just this morning, dropping my son off at school, I saw several parents, teachers and children on their phones. How did we survive when we only had land lines? I believe it’s safe to say that a great many of us are having an intimate affair with our phones, utilizing them to “hide” from life and ourselves.
What’s the answer to keeping up with technology without losing yourself along the way?
I strongly believe that you have to keep yourself accountable, making sure that you are not falling prey to the pitfalls of advanced technology. This is extremely important as we already multi-task way too much. And things are only moving faster, so it’s important to find new and safe ways to strengthen our ability to communicate and connect with others.
It’s time to take your own “communication pulse.”
Do you spend more then an hour a day on any social media platform? Are you constantly in a reactive state, which prevents you from listening to others? Do you look at your phone when you are in a conversation with another? Do you answer calls at the dinner table or other valuable family moments? Do you find yourself choosing to text instead of having a conversation? Are you having conversations over text or email that should be done in person? If you have answered yes to any of these questions, then you may have an imbalance.
As much as I appreciate modern technology, it’s changed our ability to communicate on many levels. Communication is becoming a lost art and it’s failing miserably at the hands of our children. Remember when you couldn’t be contacted every moment of the day and there were moments of the day you just got lost in work or play? Remember when you didn’t have to meet an expectation by answering someone immediately? Many of the modern day smartphone users feel compelled to respond right away to a text or email and more often then not this disrupts the flow of your day. Additionally, with less time to process our thoughts, our responses become more of a reaction instead of a conversation.
How does social media contribute to this imbalance?
Social media has many advantages, but there are plenty of drawbacks as well. I believe that many people in our world use Facebook and Twitter as a hiding space. Sitting behind the screen of a computer or phone gives people the courage to say what they want without a filter or compassion. Our emotional intelligence is getting lost in translation and we are slowly losing the ability to be honest with each other and work through difficult conversations; to take a moment and sit with a situation, even when it feels uncomfortable, and move toward communication to solve the problem.
I can’t tell you how many Facebook debates I skip over daily, wondering whether that conversation would be happening if it was in person. The usual answer? No, it wouldn’t, because you would have the connectivity factor and the ability to read body language, which would help ease a conversation that may get heavy.
Where’s the real problem?
The real problem is two-fold. We are losing our ability to communicate with honesty and kindness. Second, if we don’t have the skill to communicate in truth, whether it be a debate or difficult conversation, then how do we expect our children to be able to communicate? This is a mounting concern, as our future generations can text faster then they can talk.
What’s the solution?
Start with awareness. How much time are you on social media, and how much are you on your phone? The amount may shock you, but conscious awareness is the first step to solving our communication problem. Next, come up for air; realize that you do not have to respond immediately to anyone by text or email. Pause, and respond when the time is right for you. Then dig a little deeper: how many times during the day are you derailed because you’re interrupted by a text or email? How much time does each interruption take from your day?
How do we move forward?
Set some family phone rules. Start with some simple limitations, such as only using Facebook on the weekend or certain times throughout the day. Respond to all texts or emails periodically through out the day (three times, say). Oh, and please stop inviting people to play Farmville. 😉
Ask that no phones be on the dinner table or when you are out to eat. Spend time talking and enjoying each other; it goes a long way. Save difficult conversations for person-to-person visits and utilize texts for quick responses, not conversations.
Enjoying the gifts that come with technology is important, but moving forward into a new age with balance is even more important.
How to Free Your Soul: Liberating Your Authentic Self
In modern society, we tend to wear a lot of hats, or masks, or whatever metaphor you’d like to use. We have one for our home life, one for work-life, one for close friends and family, one for other friends we’re not as close with…. the list goes on. But what about that unmasked self? Your true, authentic self, the one maybe you only really know?
Is it even possible to show that authentic self to others without some type of filter? And is it even worth it? The short answer, yes. And by embracing this authentic self, you’ll be better prepared to take on the more meaningful pursuits of life, such as your soul’s core desires. These desires of attaining fulfillment, desire, and eventually enlightenment are what we’re all here to do right?
What Does it Mean to Free Your Soul?
To free your soul is to embrace the essence of that authentic self, and wear fewer masks. Of course, it may not always be appropriate to not put on some sort of filter for various life scenarios, but the more you work toward embodying that true self, the more secure you’ll become, subsequently improving your well-being.
And by improving your well-being at the most basic levels, you can then begin to pursue spiritual well-being at higher levels.
Understanding Core Soul Desires
Ancient Vedic texts tell us that there are four core soul desires: the desire for purpose (dharma), the means to fulfill our purpose (artha), the pleasure associated with living our purpose (kama), and freedom (moksha).
These four purusharthas, also known as the four aims of life, are intrinsic. They’re directly linked to the personal, unique Jivatman part of our soul and the infinite, unlimited Paramatman part of our soul.
Your duty, calling, or life’s purpose; you’ve likely heard the phrase “finding your Dharma,” which is typically meant in terms of finding your purpose in life that leads to happiness and fulfillment.
The concept of Dharma is an interesting one and can vary in meaning across the eastern religions that embrace it. Dharma can also refer to the underlying order of the universe or self-organizing nature of reality to which we inevitably align with. Dharma can also refer to the teachings of Buddhism, Hinduism, Sikhism, and Jainism.
Prosperity, or having the things you need to do your dharma. Again, in eastern philosophy, these concepts aren’t simply defined and can mean a few things, but essentially your Artha is the foundational and material things needed in your life. For some, this can mean wealth, a home, and material prosperity—things that make you feel secure and not wanting. For others, however, this can mean health and wellness, because without these you’ll be distracted and focused on attaining them, rather than focusing on spiritual growth and some of the more intangible pursuits in life.
Desire or pleasure; the reward of living our dharma. You’ve likely heard the word Kama before in terms of sexual pleasure and desire—the Kama Sutra. But Kama isn’t purely sexual, it refers to any type of longing, wish, passion, or desire. When balanced with the other three goals of life, Kama is important and necessary to have, if you had no passion or desire for anything in your life, it would be meaningless and you’d probably be pretty depressed. Finding your Kama, and the Kama that really drives you is an absolute must in the attainment of happiness and fulfillment.
Liberation, freedom, or release. The first three lead to this last one. Moksha is tantamount to enlightenment, or the freedom from ignorance and suffering. This is much in alignment with enlightenment: literally lightening up (moving from the base chakras to the ethereal upper ones), and living from a place of love. It’s important to understand each of these forces at the beginning of your personal growth journey to end up experiencing Moksha.