Written by Rowena McCracken
When asked what impacted her most during her ten days of silent meditation in Myanmar, Jess Farrelly pauses to think and starts to talk about happiness. She then stops, rethinks, and moves on to pain: “learning that physical pain is not something to be afraid of”.
“I felt a complete happiness in experiencing discomfort and pain which comes with eleven hours of meditation a day”.
The prolonged meditation, sitting through hunger and lack of sleep, taught her how to get through pain and not let it overpower her. “You realise that pain is a part of life that we can not only come through, but we can derive happiness from.”
Sleeping on a wooden slat bed under a mosquito net in a pagoda in Myanmar, Jess felt the happiest she had ever been in her life. Her experience with Vipassana meditation meant existing without attachments to family, friends and possessions, or access to the internet.
She loves Vipassana so much she has taught meditation to children at Brunswick Primary School in Melbourne and is planning a series of retreats for millennials.
Jess is concerned about the pressure millennials face and the consequences this has. A millennial herself, Jess wants to spread the word amongst her peers that using the strength in your mind to shift your focus from pain to enhanced self-awareness and mindfulness, leads to a way of living life with balance, peace and composure. “Many millennials don't use this inner strength because they are not aware they have it”, Jess says.
Research shows that millennials feel intense pressure to succeed. The competitive millennial is stressed about looking to what they can achieve in the future. In a generation where, more than any other, the smartphone is the medium of social approval and being socially accepted is measured, instantly, by the number of ‘likes’ you receive, it follows that your aim is to always look to find the most glamorous outcome from any situation you are in. Being fashionable has always been important but these days it is amped up by the ease in which approval, gratification or disapproval can be instantly achieved. Compulsively. Millennials have never known life without the smartphone, without being connected through the internet. Posting the selfie immediately becomes more important than being present in the moment. Indeed, taking the selfie becomes the moment.
Competition and pressure to succeed often causes lack of focus, which, in turn, leads to insecurity and inability to observe and value input from other people in social situations. Jess says she has noticed that, rather than listen and respond to develop a conversation, her peers are distracted and jump from one topic to the next. She is concerned that on a social level, people are unable to enjoy the ‘here and now’. Instead, they are stressed due to a competitive drive to look around and compare themselves with others, to focus on what might be around the corner so they can achieve more, rather than be present in the moment.
In addition, Jess sees her peers blaming the actions of others for their own state of mind instead of being aware that what is inside them is the root cause of their emotional response and wellbeing. She sees self-awareness as key to enjoying the moment. “I want to teach response rather than reaction - learning to respond to any situation from a point inside yourself, rather than reacting to someone else”. Why is this important? “Because you can hold the anger inside you so it affects your relationship with that person, so that the next time you see them you are still holding the stress inside you”.
Jess has tested her conviction by running retreats for Millennials. Workshops are hosted in Daylesford, Victoria by Story House and Garden. During workshops, Jess creates a safe and calming environment and speaks from the heart about her personal journey. The retreats include interactive workshops from Holly Inglis (AKA The Healthy Hunter) on food and the connection it has to the mind and body. Coming out of the workshops, participants have described their experience using terms such as ‘feeling more grounded’, and being equipped with ‘so many takeaways to bring back with me to my daily life’. Written by Rowena McCracken.
Information can be accessed at www.essential-being.com and firstname.lastname@example.org.