We have so many options today that it is becoming a daily struggle for most of us to avoid the dreaded FOMO or FOBO syndrome: Fear Of a Missing Out or a Better Option. We are captured in our culturally embedded belief that we should avoid missing out all costs and the proverbial grass in our modern era is always greener in those sparkling social media snapshots we browse on average for two hours and 22 minutes per day! But is it really a modern phenomenon? In the Yogic traditions and in many other religious teachings we understand that the human mind has a tendency toward dissatisfaction with “what is so”…. There is always a brighter picture being painted in one’s mind of a better option than being right here, right now! Let’s say you have finally hit the moment of your dream holiday or special occasion, it might not be possible to be truly happy and present because something might still be a little bit wrong or it’s not matching your expectations in some way.
In our Gentle Somatic Yoga Classes for Older Adults for the past few weeks we have been exploring this concept and watching our mind’s natural capacity to label and judge the present moment such that we resist what we perceive we dislike and try desperately to cling on to what we believe we love in the fear that if we let go it, nothing else can satisfy us in the same way. Instead in class and out of it, we are practising choice-less awareness – a kind of open monitoring technique that trains the mind to be with what is so without trying to grasp on to it or fix it or change it in some way.
This has had the expected result of helping us focus our attention, become productive and more pleasant to be around since we can now more easily identify the choices we have when we are emotionally triggered, right in that gap where our usual habits would normally take over and react in the moment for us! Since we are all over 40 years in Move and Inspire Me classes we are keen to slow the atrophy that happens in the brain after 21 years which has been proven to show up on the brain scans of experienced meditators.
In class, we have been discussing the fact that most adults spend around 47% of their day experiencing spontaneous mind wondering mental activity. We have become acutely aware that this takes us away from the present moment into the worrying and planning of future-focused brain drain and anxiety or send us deep into the past rehearsing disappointments which serve to generate feelings of despair based on the regret of past experiences. Our resistance of the present moment can be overcome with the daily practice of meditation though with the happy result of dampening our limbic system response (in the stress centre of the brain) such that we freak out less often and experience more calm in daily life.
This in turn has supported us to be clear thinking in the face of life shocks and changes (instead of in a panic) and less anxious when faced with perceived dangers but more importantly to notice that dissatisfied mind at work, which is so encouraged by social media activities, advertising, TV and other idealised lifestyle worship. Instead, we are practising bringing the attention and awareness back to the present moment without trying to change it. This explains why you won’t find us on Social media anymore since we are practising a new art of Digital Minimalism and learning to be content in the now by having the courage to miss out! We did also practice this on a very practical level recently when we turned down the opportunity to go through the third rounds of Britain’s Got Talent (having got through the first two) despite what this may have cost us in terms of building our brand.
Of course, we invite you to come and make your own positive brain changes with us and join in our Gentle Somatic Yoga Classes (Monday @ 5:15 at Wadworth Village Hall, Friday @ 5:45 at Oldcotes Village Hall). And why not add some positive physical change into the mix with or our fun-filled evening Dance Fitness Classes aimed at 40+ (Tuesday 7:15 and Thursday 7:30 at Bawtry New Hall) or our long established and exciting Daytime DanceFit Light Classes aimed to keep you active, fit and supple in retirement (Tuesday 10 at the Guide and Scout Headquarters in Tickhill, and Friday @ 9.30am at Bawtry New Hall). Just call Deborah on 07539600640 to book your place.
Deborah Molwuka is an experienced meditator of some 30 years and retired Senior Lecturer in Social Psychology. She is an Advanced Somatic Yoga Practitioner and Specialist in Older Active Adults with a Diploma in Doctors Referral.