Why the busy city life drove me to insomnia and unhapiness and how moving to the country made me whole again.
How are you?
The common greeting we say to people we meet.
What is your standard answer? If you live in a city I bet your answer was I’M BUSY or an I’m OK whilst stifling a rising restless energy.
I have a theory that the increase in anxiety and stress in modern life has a lot to do with Cities.
Cities… you may ask, how can Cities themselves contribute to this?
To boil it down to its very essence, it’s due to the lack of connection to nature and hence lack of connection to reality. This lack of connection coupled with overstimulation of our senses and viola we have anxiety and stress.
We all know about the benefits of nature, there is even such a thing as nature therapy, the immersion and connection to nature is mentally and spiritually refreshing. Yet I don’t think that’s the only reason why nature therapy is so effective and vital. I think it also has to do with the connection to reality. The rising sun, the morning dew, the birds singing, the rooster crowing. It’s tangible. It’s pure life that you can simply reach out and touch.
In cities, it is too easy to get lost in status, work, our online bank account figure, our gym routine and the macros in our diet. In cities, the location of our favourite coffee shops and the computer and data in front of us assumes the guise of reality. But deep down, we are not fooled. We know that this isn’t life by the subtle feeling in our gut, the subconscious question of is this it, is this life?
When we escape to the country, we find relief not just because we have escaped work, but because we have escaped the matrix and can see real life. The real life you do not get in cities, the daily slow change in the natural world, the tangible evidence of a world outside our own mind and online data. We appreciate the small things, the fresh smell of the breeze, the brilliant full moon you never notice at home, seeing where your food comes from.
We can finally take a breath. We can connect. We can appreciate the randomness of reality.
Modern living is a constant battle against the chaotic nature of reality.
The biggest reason I live in the country is for my sanity. There is something so therapeutic about the silence of small towns. When life takes me back to the city for too long, I feel my heart beat race, my brain constantly ticking, my desires for material objects becomes insatiable. Without an exact cause and ever so subtly I nearly don’t notice it, my body and soul vibrates quicker and chronic stress seeps in.
How can it not? Our brains are being overwhelmed and overstimulated every second of the day by loud noises, foreign smells, and flashing lights. We think we don’t see it but we are wrong. We perceive it all but our brains only shine attention on the stuff we train it too. It still means that our tiny thalamus is constantly working overtime to process all the stimuli it receives. There is no escape from the barrage of signals and information. Even driving on the freeway, we are constantly perceiving moving objects, car indicators, street signs, speed signs, traffic works signs, overheads with home loan signs, roadside adverts telling us how many minutes till the next MacDonald’s. And that is all within a few minutes of driving!!! Talk about overload to the senses. Our brains are just not equipped to intake all this stimuli. Our body goes into overdrive.
So next time you are planning a holiday, instead of travelling to another big city. Reconnect with the Country. Go to a small town. Notice your breath and the subtle release of tension.
Next time you book a wellness or yoga retreat, don’t be fooled into thinking that it will fix you. Think about how you will deal with the stress of overstimulation when you get back to your city home. The key is to find the secret of bringing that silence home permanently.
As I write this, I can smell fresh sea salt and dampness from the mangroves, I can hear mosquitoes buzzing around my ear and birds splashing on the water, I can see stillness and at the same time a myriad of miniature worlds living, I can feel a slight breeze ruffling my hair making it itch my face. It isn’t perfect, it isn’t entirely pleasant, but it is real and it is healing.