Please Remain Calm

imagesMay blog appearing before May end! Change is in the wind, particularly here in Stowe, Vermont, where I am co-teaching “Advanced Introduction to Basic Ayurveda” with Dr. Claudia Welch. Spring is busting out all over up here, the apples and crab apples in full bloom, the lilac buds preparing to open.

On the first day of of our event here I made the suggestion that I often make when lecturing: no matter what is happening in life, always remain calm. Note that this is no new sentiment; take for example the nearly two and a half million copies of the now well-known “Keep Calm and Carry On” poster that were printed in 1939 Britain. Few of these however found their way to World War II walls, and only since a copy was rediscovered in 2000 has this saying (and its multiple imitations and parodies) spread into wide use and evolved into meme-hood.

Ironic it is, or maybe synchronistic, that that this sentiment from a failed war-preparedness advertising campaign should have risen from limbo just after the world had been terrified by the possibility of a Y2K calamity and just before the reality of September 11; and curious it is, or to be expected, that since then the emphasis on this five-word phrase has fallen decidedly on its final two words (or their variants). We of Century 21 soldier on, performing our perceived duty (“Keep Calm and Celebrate”), doing all that we can do, paying no heed to those crucial first two words.

The English word “calm” comes from the Latin word caume, the heat of the mid-day sun, when nature rests and is still. Our over-heated world of over-heated people is become a permanent “mid-day”, a perpetual moment when rest is most required. Chronic agitation chronically aggravates us, weakening digestion, promoting generalized inflammation, expediting ill health. Change has become so constant in our world that there’s simply nothing worth getting all worked up about. Our aim should be to glide, not lurch, from alteration to alteration, flowing along as best we can no matter how choppy the waters in which we swim.

Achievement of calm though requires at the least the temporary turning away of our attention from all those electronic instruments that demand it. The average American adult now spends eight and a half hours every day in front of a screen, with 52 per cent of us checking our phones every half hour. A study by the National Center for Biotechnology Information and the National Library of Medicine found that 79 per cent of respondents in the U.S. engaged in dual-screening — watching portable devices while watching TV. “Multitasking” teens can cram more than 10 hours of media into an average of 7 hours of screen time a day in this way. No wonder the attention span of the average post-modern person has dropped beneath that of the average goldfish.

The only answer to world in permanent electronic turmoil is to ever seek calm, and to keep on carrying on. And so we salute the Three-Eyed One, the Lord of Transformation, onto whose Linga Head we pour out our oblations, and to whose rock-like resolution we pray. May His calm be ours! Om namah sivaya!