We live in the modern world of commerce or more precisely what intellectuals and philosophers call the post-modern world. We have smart phones, smart tablets, smart watches, smart boards, smart cars – essentially those of us in the industrialized nations are living in the Smart Life generation. There are so many gadgets on the market that help us become smarter and better humans and societies.
There have been huge strides in technology, making our lives faster, quicker and more organized, and connecting us to anything we ever want to know. We are no longer living the American dream; we are living the Smart Life dream. With all this ease and access born from our strides in technological development, are things really easier and simpler? Are we more purified and stable in mind-body-spirit with all these advancements?
The amount of electronic stimuli coming into our input system (think mind-body-spirit triune) on average researchers now say is about 12 hours a day! That’s half of our day. People wake up with electronics and go to bed with electronics. Our attachment to technology is fundamentally changing the structure of our brain, and not in a good way. With all the new technology out there that helps us become more effective and efficient at processing information, we are actually becoming less so with fragmented thinking and the inability to focus on the issues in any given moment as our brains desire the jolts of dopamine from the reward of immediate smart life results.
Fragmented thinking and the inability to focus are two prime culprits that disconnect us from a sense of wholeness and groundedness. Efforts to purify or cleanse or to make clearer the lens of the mind, body, and spirit help us regain more connected thinking and focused awareness that propel us in the delayed gratification and reward of wholeness and groundedness. Generally, those things and situations that feel good and fulfill our sense of desire and joy, but that are delayed in bringing that effect, aka delayed gratification, are more sustainable over time and the feelings are more authentic, long-term, and longer lasting.
Smart world technologies provide nice incentives and efficiencies to make some areas of our life run more smoothly, but there is balance to most things. We must be consciously aware of our time spent in the smart world and consciously deactivate so we can purify the mind, body, and spirit for more sustainable feelings of wholeness and groundedness. Yet, the smart world can easily get us distracted from exactly what will nourish us and what will put more toxins and static in our human triune system. Let’s look at a model to understand the affects of this a little more.
In yoga there are five (5) energetic layers or sheaths called koshas that describe essentially the parts of ourselves (think in terms of physical, emotional, and spiritual body, but with a couple of more specific layers) when added together make us whole – they are layers from the outside physical body to the inside layer of our deep spiritual core. I will briefly mention the 5 layers –
~ Annamaya kosha is the first layer. It represents our physical body and we tune into our physical body when we tune into our physical senses.
~ Pranamaya kosha is the second layer. It represents our prana or life force. It’s the layer of our subtle body (think in terms of our circulatory system and it’s the rhythm of our body and spirit).
~ Manomaya kosha is the third layer that connects us to our mind, emotions, and nervous system. This is our emotional body.
~ Vijanamaya kosha is the fourth layer. This is the part of our brains where we develop awareness, insight, and consciousness. When we are in the vijanamaya kosha, we are in the most evolved portion of our brains, the prefrontal cortex. When we are tuned into this layer, we are acting with self-control instead of being out of control.
~ Anandamaya kosha is the fifth layer. This is the ultimate bliss state. Usually in this state, we are in the flow of life and we feel completely connected and grounded.
Each day we navigate the smart world, it’s a good idea to check in and foster ultimate growth in each of the koshas. It may seem a bit much, but once we establish a purification ritual, it just becomes part of our routine. The balance in our koshas (again think mind-body-spirit and then some) will be thanking us each time we face challenging emotions and situations throughout the day because when we connect to our purification rituals each day we are more prepared to meet these challenges with awareness, self-control, and compassion, which are all ingredients that contribute positively to the common good of our families, communities, and world.
What exactly are we purifying? We are purifying the static that accumulates in each of these layers from living and being in the smart world. Though we are more connected to information than ever, we are also becoming more disconnected with ourselves and with others. Many of us invest in material comforts and financial security, but when it comes to investing in ourselves, in investing in the healthy development of each of our koshas (energetic layers or sheaths), we are starving and some of us are in states of energetic malnutrition. We have been navigating a system that in many respects sells the point that purification of the static on the inside will happen when we purchase and accumulate on the outside.
In fact, David Brooks, in his recent piece in the New York Times on The Evolution of Simplicity, mentions that as the simplicity movement has evolved in our country, that is to live more simply with the advances of our civilization, we have books and software that guide us how to be more clutter-free and lessen the static of overwhelming electronic stimuli in our e-mail inboxes, but the organic cotton wrapped package fact is, is that these simplicity efforts are also consumption based simplicity schemes.
Purification in the smart world is more about lessening our consumption (and not replacing it with more “clutter free” stuff) and reconnecting to consuming the gifts of life on the inside by investing in the evolution of our energetic sheaths to more states of balance, focus, and connection.
So, our goal isn’t to reach some point of perfection, but our goal is to make it through the energetic layers each time with a clearer lens. We are also living in the smart life and our purification adventures take place in that context. Some aspects of our smart life are great. It’s wonderful to know some information at our fingertips, find amazing recipes in a few clicks and use technologies that promote sharing and diversity in content. This same smart life context can also slyly entice us to become very distracted in the static and confuse static filled states of being with plastic bliss.
How many purification adventures must we make through the energetic layers until we are just blissed out forever? Sri Swami Satchidananda in the Bhagavad Gita says this about the process of self-realization, “But it takes a long time to rub, scrub and clean the ego to get the proper receptivity of the mind. It’s covered with so much mud. To empty the mind and clean it takes a long time.”
Stay tuned next week as I investigate in more detail what this whole purity process is. I will be discussing all that what, why, and how stuff.
In the meantime, enjoy consuming a little less, noticing those affects on your own koshas (energetic layers), and do a little of your own investigating to figure out what is causing the biggest mud build up in your life.
Enjoy the dust wiping, mud cleaning, and static clearing adventures, and trust that through that process you will find some gems buried in your core.
Om Shanti Om ~ Athea