I Miss The 1960s!

I Miss the 1960s!

“If someone thinks that peace and love are just a cliché that must have been left behind in the 60s, that’s a problem. Peace and love are eternal.”
― John Lennon

One of my favorite TV shows is Sunday Morning on CBS.  This week’s show included a video of The Beatles’ 1960s era live recording session for All You Need Is Love. There were all four of the ‘lads” in their Nehru jackets, chewing gum and grinning with the boyish charm that used to cause young girls to faint!  A full orchestra of old white guys was in stark contrast to the audience of long-haired teenagers, scattered around, sitting cross-legged on the floor.  Colorful balloons and streamers hung from the ceiling and psychedelic art decorated the walls.  The “fab four” were having fun and the music echoed a time I am grateful to have experienced and I miss a lot.

As I watched the video with wistfulness, I thought about those long-gone days and why I miss them.  Was it merely a time of youthful innocence or something different?  We all know that the 1960s ushered in enormous societal and cultural changes, but what about for us aging baby boomers, as individuals?  At age 16, I wanted to be part of the “hippie” culture but Richmond, Virginia is a long way from San Francisco and I didn’t have a clue how to escape my traditional southern upbringing.  And I didn’t have the guts, to be honest.  Not too long ago, I admitted to my daughter that as a teenager, I wanted to try drugs but didn’t know where to get them.  Her shocked reaction surprised me.  She said, “Are you kidding?  Things have really changed.”  I guess she knows too well how easy it is to get drugs today.  She also knows firsthand what drug addiction does to young people and their families.

Yes, the 1960s was a time of innocence.  But I can’t help but think that as we grew up, we not only lost our innocence about a lot of things, we also lost our joy of living in the present moment.  The Beatles’ video was colorful and everyone looked carefree and happy.  While “turn on, tune in, drop out” may have been naïve, mindfulness to me recalls the 1960s values of love, freedom, and questioning the relentless pursuit of success.  Mindfulness provides the opportunity to regain our youthful exuberance with life itself.  According to Carol Gregolre (Huffington Post, 11/22/2013), the spirit of the 1960s counterculture has made a resurgence today.  Yoga, meditation, and interest in Eastern spirituality, all popularized during the 1960s, have become important to many of us again.  Gregolre makes the following suggestions from the 1960s that resonate today for those of us on a mindfulness journey:

  1. Meditate.   By the 1970’s,  “…meditation moved from the counterculture to the mainstream, from weird to respectable, from youthful mind expansion to middle-age stress remedy,” writes American Veda author Philip Goldberg.  Fifty years later, we now know that meditation is associated with lower stress levels, improved academic performance, lower blood pressure, and reduced depression, among other physical and mental health benefits. (Gregolre, 2013).
  2. Attend to our spiritual life. More and more people are finding that the meaning of life does not reside in wealth, achievement, or status.  As a baby boomer, I went through a “Jesus Freak” phase in the 1960s and felt that I had found the meaning of life.   But after years of chasing success and giving lip service to organized religion, I’ve found that life’s meaning is actually found by recognizing the impermanence of all things and freeing oneself from attachment to them.
  3.  Strive for a healthy body and lifestyle.

“The 1960s saw a grassroots revival of holistic health and natural medicine, as mind-body practices including meditation and yoga began to gain traction. Food co-ops also started to reappear at this time, filling the demand for healthy, fresh foods. Many Americans, for the first time, started factoring diet, lifestyle and emotions into the health equation. We now know that lifestyle factors can play an enormous role in influencing health outcomes, in addition to more traditional treatments.” (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/11/22/10-lessons-from-the-1960s_n_4309975.html)

5. Take Care of the Earth.  During the 1960s, hippies started communes, engaged in natural farming methods and went on nature retreats as a way to connect with “Mother Earth”.  Rachel Carson’s influential book, Silent Spring, published in 1962, was the impetus for later environmental and climate change efforts.  Today, mindfulness and the recognition of the interconnectedness of all of nature are related ideas as we appreciate what nature gives us and the extent of the environmental threat due to climate change.

So, I look back to the 1960s and smile to myself.  I appreciate how we baby boomers brought about profound change to our thinking, our lives, and to our world.  After fifty years, we may not have come full circle but our values haven’t disappeared completely.  Mindfulness is the journey toward what The Beatles encouraged for the whole world:   All You Need Is Love.

 Caged Bird

By Maya Angelou, 1969

The free bird leaps
on the back of the wind
and floats downstream
till the current ends
and dips his wings
in the orange sun rays
and dares to claim the sky.

But a bird that stalks
down his narrow cage
can seldom see through
his bars of rage
his wings are clipped and
his feet are tied
so he opens his throat to sing.

The caged bird sings
with fearful trill
of the things unknown
but longed for still
and his tune is heard
on the distant hill for the caged bird
sings of freedom

The free bird thinks of another breeze
and the trade winds soft through the sighing trees
and the fat worms waiting on a dawn-bright lawn
and he names the sky his own.

But a caged bird stands on the grave of dreams
his shadow shouts on a nightmare scream
his wings are clipped and his feet are tied
so he opens his throat to sing

The caged bird sings
with a fearful trill
of things unknown
but longed for still
and his tune is heard
on the distant hill
for the caged bird
sings of freedom.

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