Ah – well, a title will sometimes be a bit over the top. Sorry people.
The point is: city life is bad for our mental processes. We are bombarded with so many stimuli, that our brain overloads. In fact one researcher says:
“The mind is a limited machine,”says Marc Berman, a psychologist at the University of Michigan and lead author of a new study that measured the cognitive deficits caused by a short urban walk. “And we’re beginning to understand the different ways that a city can exceed those limitations.”
Researchers then go on to compair the benefits of seeing a fragment of greenery outside a city window to meditation. Noting among other things that people will be less prone to violence in the home if they have some nature to look out on. And a stretch of grass with some trees will do.
For the first time in history more people live in cities than outside them…
I think it’s a bit different for a farmer to choose to meditate, than it is for a city person to do the same. When we talk about spiritual traditions and what they bring us – I think the importance of context is often forgotten. I assume for you – most of my readers – the city is the primary context of your lives. Like it is for most of humanity.
Unlike our ancestors who lived in villages, or on farms, we have to choose to find nature in our lives.
Perhaps more interesting from a spiritual perspective: the city also makes it harder to resist temptation. Not only do we get more stimuli, but it is also harder to resist them, because our brain overloads. Meaning: eating too much of the wrong stuff, getting into debt for buying that extra TV etc.
With this knowledge it seems to be clear that what each of us needs to do isn’t just have more self-controll – it’s making sure we mold our circumstances to make it easier to have self controll. Instead of going shopping, go for a walk in the park – literally. Or for a drive outside the city. And while you’re at it – you might put on your hiking boots and take a walk outside the city as well.
But who am I to talk? I don’t do hiking all that much. I do some biking. And I promise myself to go skating in nature at least once this week – before the ice thaws…