As you practice building a home in yourself, you become more and more beautiful.
Thich Nhat Hanh
“Turn on, tune in and drop out” is a famous phrase that Timothy Leary spoke at the Human Be-In, a gathering of around 30,000 hippies in San Francisco in 1967.
It has been interpreted many times but I think Leary’s own description in his autobiography is the most succinct:
“Turn on” meant go within to activate your neural and genetic equipment. Become sensitive to the many and various levels of consciousness and the specific triggers engaging them. Drugs were one way to accomplish this end. “Tune in” meant interact harmoniously with the world around you—externalize, materialize, express your new internal perspectives. “Drop out” suggested an active, selective, graceful process of detachment from involuntary or unconscious commitments. “Drop Out” meant self-reliance, a discovery of one’s singularity, a commitment to mobility, choice, and change. Unhappily, my explanations of this sequence of personal development are often misinterpreted to mean “Get stoned and abandon all constructive activity.”
Recently Edward Snowden tweeted something on twitter, he rarely tweets. At the end of the tweet he noted that he would be again away from twitter and he signed off with “Stay free.”
This made me think about all the ways our devices, social media addictions/compulsions, entertainment on demand cause us to live in a kind of trap, where we ingest information unconsciously like junk food, causing us to become merely pliable consumers in the world of tech giants, governments and corporate and activist agendas. Instead of being free, we become like slaves, dependent on hits of dopamine and falling further into algorithmically determined group bubbles.
Going on retreat is something few of us manage in this hectic life. Retreat is an intentioned leaving of the daily life to connect with others or yourself in a more meaningful, present way. It is essential when breaking the cord of compulsion and addiction to the modern life and regaining a sense of self, free from outside noise or distraction. It gives us a pause to listen to what is within.
Once you’ve done it a few times it feels like coming home to yourself. It allows the process of “turning on”.
“Turn on, tune in and drop out“
Turn on: Shut down or limit all external stimuli. Be selective in what you consume. This you have to choose for yourself. For me it’s my computer in general. I allow myself to listen to philosophical and creative discussion and that’s it. I slowly start reconnecting with the environment around me, becoming clearer about my internal feelings as my neural equipment starts to regulate, free from the constant dopamine hit of emails and contact.
Tune in: Without constant distraction you can notice things in your present/presence more clearly. Take the time to feel the sun on your face, to notice the impressions that pop into your mind, either from dreams or memories. Lean into whatever feelings come up. Distance yourself from the absurdity of daily life and meditate on the true interconnectedness of all beings. Feel what it’s like to be alone, without witness. Meditate on loneliness and solitude.
Drop Out: You are no longer just an avatar; you are you, with a unique history. You don’t need to feel superficially connected through the intranet, because you are connected to yourself. Notice the cravings come and go and focus on regulating the breath. This is your home, the place that you can return to again and again and again: when tragedy strikes, when stress is too much, when the hectic swamps you- always remember that you have a retreat.
Retreat doesn’t necessarily mean going away from home. You can do this in various ways whenever you have time off. Let me know how you turn on, tune in and drop out. How do you create a home within?