My friend Barbara recommended a book to me called ‘Lost Connections: Uncovering the real causes of depression and the unexpected solutions” by Johann Hari and so I downloaded it to my iPhone and am now listening to it…for the third time! I could not recommend it more strongly for anyone who is interested in human flourishing and wellbeing and the causes and conditions we need to have in place individually and as a society in order to achieve it.
Why is it such a good book. Firstly, it is very well researched and takes a critical stance in relation to the evidence that has emerged over the last 50 years. Secondly, it is thoroughly engaging as Hari is such a beautiful story teller. He tells the stories of the researchers he has spoken to, about what inspired them to research the subjects they did and their experiences of conducting the research and of finding, often surprising results. He also tells stories of individuals loss of connection and their journeys to reconnecting. Then there is his own story of being told his depression was caused only by a chemical imbalance in his brain, of years spent on ever higher doses of anti-depressants and then his journey to finding this was not the case and that there were many and diverse causes and conditions that had resulted in his depression and which needed to be addressed for him to flourish.
Above all I loved the authenticity and unflinching honesty of Hari’s writing – repeatedly moved to cathartic, healing tears as the stories unfolded and spoke to me about my life, my lost connections and my journey of reconnecting. I am inspired again to bring us all together as a community of like- minded practitioners, with common values, able to support each other and I hope our new membership site – opening on 27 March will help with this. It struck me that as members of the Mindfulness Association membership, it is up to us all to see what we can contribute, as well as what we can gain from engaging with each other. I have also been inspired to set up a local weekly practice group with my friend Moira Harris in the Dumfries area and we will have a group about this on the new membership site. The group will start up in mid-April. This I hope will provide a supportive place to share experience and practice for all those who come along – but I am motivated because I also crave this connection myself.
The lost connections are: to meaningful work, other people, meaningful values, childhood trauma, status and respect, the natural world and a hopeful and secure future. Each is beautifully explored drawing together research and personal stories and gives clarity to the many failings of our current individualistic and materialistic culture to support human flourishing. This proves time and time again, that it is not our fault (as Paul Gilbert would say) if we find ourself struggling in our lives. However, Hari also explores innovative and creative ways to enable us to restore these lost connections – some of which we can begin to put in place ourselves and others of which will require us to come together in order to change the society and culture which we are currently subject to.
I find the book hopeful and soothing. I often feel completely baffled by and isolated from the values of the environment around me and struggle to know how to engage skilfully. It helps me that others are feeling the same way and that scientific investigation is leading to a similar conclusion.
I hope that you will come together with me and others in the MA membership for our Joyful Club weekend in Samye Ling this summer – for more details please follow this link. A chance to connect again.
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