More and more our virtual and actual lives are jockeying for position. This article spends zero time on the goodness, badness or effects. This is about how to use some aspects of virtual life to your personal existential advantage; or how you can use the idea of a digital retreat as an actual means for meaningful advance.
We are not at the point where we can have a virtual girlfriend/assistant P.I. riding shotgun like Ryan Gosling has in Joi in Bladerunner 2049, but instead of letting our Android devices drive us to distraction/madness we can choose to use them to carve out quiet or meditative beautiful space we could never personally afford.
I came upon this ridiculously simple idea when I noted that I could use Pinterest to relax my mind and heart late at night by looking at things I found beautiful and appealing. Zen gardens, bamboo forests, men and women’s fashions with classic cuts, rare Ford cars, creative architecture…I started to collect “boards.”
Here at Humanmeaning.org I have started a Pinterest for the purpose of collecting “Retreat Places” where you can go for a few minutes or a few hours. Throw images up on your 45″ widescreen TV and put on some music you enjoy – or a soundtrack. Let the image or images be a portal in your life to new places and ideas.
Or go to the “Doors that Define Us” collection when you wish and save a door to your own Pinterest, but when you do add your own reflection of how that unique door speaks to you or reminds you of a story or experience from your life. If you do not want to put it in a public forum you can make it “secret” on Pinterest (only those you wish to see it can) or you can right click, “save image as…” and then place it in a Word document and do your own private reflection – say, to share with your family (your children perhaps).
Another real option is video. It took me awhile to find high quality free videos that were not commercialized and which ran for long periods of time. One of my favorites is probably too simple for a lot of people: it just has rain in a Zen garden for a couple of hours – and light rain.
In a world that is yelling at you constantly, letting this play in my living room all by itself with a few tea candles detoxifies my whole environment.
Retreat as Advance
I have long noted that Buddhists and Christians make a special habit in our culture of doing a lot of “retreats.” It is where they get “re-centered” or, in the case of Christians, often re-connect with God who’s voice has been drowned out by the sheer din of the City.
Some people have begin to refer to the Postmodern workplace as a “Digital Gulag.” It may pay well in many cases, but that is often mitigated by a very high-cost of living and a huge toll when it comes to personal time and a sense of real human meaning.
It is in response to this that women and men need to be proactive in using personal retreat space in the daily procurement of human meaning – a meaning which is always – at the core – relational. In ortder to be relational, people need to have a personal life to share.
It is just that simple.
Humanmeaning.org Quiet Garden Meditation Collection (with music)
Humanmeaning.org Quiet Ocean Collection