Saturday, December 31, 2016

New Year’s Eve 2016: The Overview Effect and the Importance of Connection

Few would disagree that 2016 was a divisive year.  As we come to its close, now more than ever there is a need for understanding how we must come together, not only to heal ourselves but extending that to our families, friends, community, country and the earth itself.

The astronaut Frank White came up with the expression “The Overview Effect” after his time in space. It  refers to the experience of seeing firsthand the Earth in space, which is immediately understood to be a tiny, fragile ball of life, hanging in the void, shielded and nourished by a paper-thin atmosphere.  

It is interesting to watch the video The Overview Effect and reading about The Overview Institute.

 Seeing the Earth “hanging in the void” caused a cognitive shift for many astronauts and cosmonauts. National boundaries vanish, the conflicts that divide people become less important and the need to create a “planetary” society becomes more important.

Edgar Mitchell, who walked on the moon, founded The Institute of Noetic Sciences as he believed “in a universe of consciousness.” The Institute conducts research on such topics as spontaneous remission, meditation, alternative healing practises, consciousness based healthcare, spirituality etc.

Neil deGrasse Tyson, astrophysicist, cosmologist and director of the Hayden Planetarium  sums it up with his quote “We are all connected; To each other, biologically. To the earth, chemically. To the rest of the universe atomically.”

Buddhism,  Native Americans and many other religious beliefs and cultures recognize the connectivity between all beings. In fact, “connectedness,” the degree to which an individual or group is socially close, interrelated or shares resources with other individuals or groups,” bas been shown to help prevent Alzheimer’s Disease, reduce risk of suicide as well as increase longevity and well-being. According to Robert Waldinger, the current director of the Harvard Study of Adult Development, there are three very important take away points from the study for living a long and contented life:

• Social connections are really good for us, loneliness kills
• It's not just the number of friends you have, and it's not whether or not you're in a committed relationship, but it's the quality of your close relationships that matters
• Good relationships don't just protect our bodies, they protect our brains.

So how do we bring connectedness into our lives? Consider the following resources:

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