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Sunday, 19 October 2008

emotions in history

Have you ever wondered about how people felt one thousand years ago, struggling for survival in the dark ages, gnawed at by poverty, disease, and strife? Did they feel lonely? According to Theodore Zeldin in his 'An Intimate History of Humanity', people in India developed a way of coping with loneliness that was akin to the way doctors sometimes treat disease. It was to inoculate themselves against the problem with a deadened form of loneliness - they (although this was sadly only for the men at that time) went on retreat for three months. The enforced isolation faced down the spectre of loneliness and gave people the strength to not be so afraid of an emotion that so troubles us today.

Would it serve any purpose to do something like this for both young men and women today?


Belle said...

I believe it just may (re)solve, in one retreat, what years of weekly therapy isn't accomplishing for a good lot of people I know.

This makes me think of the 30 day meditation retreats are all the rage right now (at least here in Los Angeles). Even if people go for the "wrong" reasons, I don't see how they can come away without reaping at least some of the benefits.

scot in exile said...

i think there's much to be said for a retreat. in a way it's like a pilgrimage, itself a good thing irrespective of the specific religion. it's a time outside of ordinary life to connect with the bigger journey, a time to live in myth and connect that to oneself.