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The current buzz about unhooking from a stressful life is made up of some sound ideas but it’ll never work. Not for long, anyway.

There’s no doubting the wisdom of things like mindfulness (all the more authentic because it’s Eastern), tending your inner self, detox retreats and all the rest. The problem is that the things we are meant to DO in our daily lives (productivity, success, measurable results, outcomes, achieving goals, list-ticking etc), just don’t equip us for BEING – slowing down, disconnecting, chilling out, down-shifting, switching off, or whatever you want to call it (for shorthand I’ll use ‘switching off’).

In a nutshell, West is about Doing, East is about Being. I’m simplifying, obviously, and that means some of the detail is lost. Still, who’s got time for details? We’re all too busy!

Like all trends, the obsession switching off and relaxing properly is born out of necessity, but like any buzz it soon becomes an irritating background noise. And if you’ve ever had to put up with one of those, you’ll know how we tend to react; we either filter it out or it bugs us to a point that we reject it altogether.

The problem is that when we employ a mindset that puts productivity and relaxation into different categories we create an either/or separation which makes switching off difficult (no time, too much to do, guilt, etc), or hard to keep up (mind won’t switch off, self-discipline, interruptions, life events…).

Whether you goal is to reduce stress, better life balance, to re-energise yourself, or simply the  grail of greater happiness, the shift happens with the understanding that it is all about becoming something rather than doing something.


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