We are in the midst of a huge paradigm shift: a new model from which we understand what it means to thrive on this planet.
We have entered a new age, which is described by Dan Pink in his book, A Whole New Mind as the Conceptual Age:
“We are moving from an economy and a society built on the logical, linear, computerlike capabilities of the Information Age to an economy and a society built on the inventive, empathetic, big-picture capabilities of what’s rising in its place, the Conceptual Age.”
Pink goes on to argue that to thrive in this new era, we will need to utilize aptitudes commonly associated with the right hemisphere of the brain in addition to the array of left-brain qualities that have dominated the periods before.
In other words, it’s no longer enough to apply sequential, logical, and analytical approaches to problems. We must now integrate non-linear, holistic, and intuitive practices if we want to flourish.
Beyond this book and the brain’s hemispheres, we see evidence everywhere of this need for integration coming to light. The old paradigm has been rooted in motivation driven by fear, lack, and a sense of separateness between us and others.
To a large degree, we still see this playing out in almost every facet of our culture. We see wars on drugs, fights against disease, conflicts between people, and actions against climate change. This illusion that we are all separate leads us to believe that we have to spend our time fixing, solving, and controlling what lies outside of us.
We think anything that falls outside the box of what we deem acceptable or right needs changing or fixing to fit inside the box.
Yet, this perception is changing. The unrest spurred by the pandemic and the political climate of the past four years has led to a massive shift toward mindfulness.
In April 2020, the world’s 10 biggest English-language mental wellness apps saw a combined 10 million downloads during that month alone. That number was up by two million downloads compared to January 2020. It is now estimated that up to 500 million people meditate worldwide—with numbers increasing daily.
As more and more people turn to mindfulness, and meditation in particular, they will inevitably begin to uncover the root of what mindfulness offers: we are separate from our thoughts, and beyond those thoughts and perceived differences, we are all one.
Not only that, mindfulness helps us realize that the most profound gift we can offer the world is our own healing. As Rumi once said:
“Never give from the depths of your well, but from your overflow.”
And so this is the paradigm shift. It is the knowledge that stepping foot first into the chaos to try to change it, fix it, or organize it is futile without first going inward and finding alignment.
And yes, we are human. We feel, and we fall, and we fail, and we deviate from this place of internal peace, internal alignment all the time.
The key lies in pausing the doing and returning again and again to being—to our inner selves.
This is the practice. This is what it means to integrate the left and the right hemispheres. Because it goes beyond just the brain—what we need is the embodiment of internal alignment in tandem with external measures to serve others and the world.
If we believe our outer reality reflects our inner reality, then this approach of returning to the present moment is the only way forward.