Last weekend two events I experienced converged in my consciousness. Have you experienced times when unrelated events you’ve experienced connect and together offer yet new insights, new possibilities for action in connection to each other? In a busy life with so many activities, it is exciting when seemingly disparate events connect. The world is actually connected even as our minds separate parts of the world to make sense of it and put things into categories.
First, I finished reading the book Deep Work by Cal Newport. If you haven’t read this book I recommend it. It speaks to effective knowledge work and makes the distinction between “shallow work,” work that is fraught with distractions and perhaps non-essential, and “deep work” that is about work that creates value, is immersive and meaning laden and offers something to the world. Newport’s exact definition of Deep Work is “professional activities performed in a state of distraction-free concentration that push your cognitive capabilities to their limit. These efforts create new value, improve your skill and are hard to replicate.”
Second, I attended a Native American Ceremony that honored the Horse Nation of Oceti Sakowin (Seven Council Fires) in recognition of the fact that horses have shaped the history, spirituality and culture of the Lakota, Dakota and Nakota people. A visual presentation was followed by a sacred ceremony honoring a member of the Horse Nation (the beautiful Luna from Bunker Stables in Minnesota) lovingly dressed in horse regalia by elder James Star Comes Out and singer Jeremiah Frazier who sang the honoring songs for the ceremony held at the Native American Medicine Gardens on St Paul Campus of the University of Minnesota. The deep sense of love, respect and honor for horse relatives, the spiritual connection between humans and horses was real, present, palpable and heart opening in the ceremony. The horse Luna seemed to definitely know that she was being honored!
The impact of both experiences and the interconnections between the two was profound for me. It has led me to explore Deep Being, the notion of living with deep awareness of our connectedness with others that indigenous communities know and practice so well. On the other hand, being a knowledge worker in today’s world can automatically pull you into activities and spaces of distraction – the world of emails, instant messaging and social media, a busy life potentially lived on the surface. It makes me think that we need to spend reflective time each day to reconnect the categories and insights from our life experiences and construct them into “wholes.” Examples of Carl Jung and others in Newport’s book confirm that people whose work has impacted the work have found practical and unique ways to produce deep work.
Deep Being would be a way in which, as in the indigenous mindset, life is lived in full connection to nature and community, both in a sense of worldview and daily practice. As a knowledge worker this would mean engaging in deep work, structuring our time in sacred ways, keeping distractions at bay so that the work that is uniquely ours can emerge and be deeply satisfying. The indigenous people have known all about deep being and work that is evident from the work that they produced – rituals, ceremonies, and artefacts. Note the exquisite beadwork on the horse regalia that Luna was wearing last weekend. Onward, then, towards Deep Being!