A recent study undertaken by researchers from Harvard and the University of Virginia had surprising results: more often than not, men would rather give themselves a slight shock treatment, than have to sit alone with their thoughts. (This "Wired" news article summarizes the study’s findings as does this article from the University of Virginia).
People argue that we need to be able to multitask; that we are social beings; that of course people feel like they are losing it when they are left alone to do nothing - this IS torture! Or is it? Is there value in removing stimulation once in a while to deal with ourselves? I touched on this in an earlier post; even students can benefit from learning to deal with boredom.
I recently spent a week living in silence with strangers. At first, it did feel a bit torturous for my mind (“What am I doing here? Why does that guy slurp his tea in the most irritating way possible? I should have chosen the yoga retreat!”). But after giving it a fair shot, I will say that the practice of mindfulness, and “insight meditation” or Vipassana opened my eyes to some simple (but not always easy) techniques to live with more presence and start to deal with the mind.
As Jon Kabat-Zinn (professor of Medicine and founding Director for the Centre for Mindfulness at UMass) writes:
Now that we’ve explored what he views as the purpose of education, and the important roles of parents and teachers, we can finish our review of Krishnamurti’s “Education and the Significance of Life” by considering the type of schooling he proposed.
Krishnamurti first places emphasis on the failure of large institutions:
A large and flourishing institution in which hundreds of children are educated together, with all its accompanying show and success, can turn out bank clerks and super-salesmen, superficial people who are technically efficient; but there is hope only in the integrated individual, which only small schools can help bring about.
He pushes us to re-think the common idea that we need to start on a large scale to effect change; that instead, we need to act, beginning with ourselves and our children:
A passionate educator.. on a quest for a schooling model to love!