Not too long ago, I sat atop a mountain meditating (see photo above). I had spent 5 hours atop that mountain. You might think that’s a lot, but compared to old school meditators who might spend years at the same spot, it’s nothing. Only 5 hours! I must have ADHD! 🙂
After an hour of examining the landscape and a flock of birds, some tourists reached the spot. With a few exceptions, many had mild or severe cases of the Instagram-Syndrome: They were not there to experience the place, but document the event in photos for online posts. They cared more about how they looked atop the mountain than how it felt as an experience. I knew the place they were in, because I had been there too.
The sun had risen, so more tourists were now reaching this peak. 9 out of 10 people had what seemed to be a fairly rushed and shallow experience. A selfie, a photo of the other, a few poses here, a few poses there, a brief pretense of looking out into the distance, a few beeps and swooshes on the smartphone and back down the mountain they went. It all seemed kind of restless from my vantage point. Where’s the depth? The contemplation? Reflection? Where were deep conversations? Where was the admiration of the beauty? Tranquility? The loving peace? I saw only one person getting high off the view. He stood there for a full 10 minutes, taking full breathes in panoramic awareness. One other person was collecting a few flower samples. Those were the only who stayed for more than 10 minutes. Astonishing. The way up is 3 hours and then they stay less than 10 minutes?
I’m not judging, merely noting. I’ve been in a shallow state many times, but seeing it from my meditative state, it looked strange. Why wasn’t anyone “taking it in” and taking their time? Are smartphones and Instagram turning us into caricatures? While not taking selfies, expressions were somber. While taking selfies, the demeanor magically transformed into shining bliss and exhilarating adventure.
This got me wondering what it means to experience something. I wrote a list of questions that would help me get into everyday-life situations more deeply:
- What do you see?
- What do you hear?
- What do you feel?
- What do you sense?
- How does this person, place, thing, thought or event relate to the whole?
- Why are you here?
- Who else is with you?
- What does this person, place, thing, thought or event teach you?
- What is known about it?
- What is unknown about it?
Just one of these questions could be enough for immersion into the present.
Give it a try…apply these questions to ANY moment or situation.
How does that make you feel about life? Doesn’t that feel fantastic?
I saw about fifty tourists come and go, fondling phones, documenting the place for those not present. “Awesome place!” they said. But were they in an awesome state? Maybe. Places of beauty tend to break the daily hypnosis. But I believe there is even more to any moment. More to notice, more to feel, more to learn.