Tag: Alvin Toffler

Overload and rescue!

Starting to look like a bit of a theme!

Over the last few weeks there have been a number of posts touching on the role of meditation and the huge potential benefits of taking a little time out each day.  For those new to Learning from Dogs or to this particular thread, here are links to previous posts.

On the 19th June, there was a post called Maybe home is found in our quietness. In that post there were three references to the power of meditation, that is in a curative sense.  Here’s a small extract from that post:

A few weeks ago when meeting our local doctor for the first time since we moved to Oregon, I had grumbled about bouts of terrible short-term memory recall and more or less had shrugged my shoulders in resignation that there was nothing one could do: it was just part of getting older, I guessed!

“On the contrary”, responded Dr. Hurd, continuing, “There’s growing evidence that our information-crowded lives: cell phones; email; constant TV; constant news, is pumping too much for our brains to manage.”

Dr. Hurd continued, “Think about it! Our brains have to process every single sensory stimulus. The research is suggesting that our brains are being over-loaded and then the brain just dumps the excess data. If that is the case, and the evidence is pointing in that direction, then try thirty minutes of meditation each day; give your brain a chance to rest.”

Just hang on to what Dr. Hurd said, “There’s growing evidence that our information-crowded lives: cell phones; email; constant TV; constant news, is pumping too much for our brains to manage.

The second post was on the 25th June,  Unlocking the inner parts of our brain.  It included this:

The second was a recent science programme on the BBC under the Horizon series. The programme was called,The Truth About Personality.


Within the programme came the astounding fact that even ten minutes a day meditation can help the brain achieve a more balanced personality (balance in terms of not being overly negative in one’s thoughts).

You will not have failed to note, “even ten minutes a day meditation can help the brain achieve a more balanced personality“.

So let me move on!

Not sure how I came across the website Natural health news but on July 03, 2013, Zach Miller wrote a piece under the title of Information Fatigue Syndrome (IFS): What it is and how it affects you.  I’m hoping it’s OK to republished Zach Miller’s article.  Because it so perfectly supports those referred posts.


Information Fatigue Syndrome (IFS): What it is and how it affects you

Wednesday, July 03, 2013 by: Zach C. Miller

(NaturalNews) These days, we’re living in an increasingly connected, electronic world. Every day we use the internet, computers, cell phones, Blackberries, and Bluetooth devices. We read newspapers, watch TV and listen to internet radio (and even read ads on billboards as we drive down the freeway). While all our media and technology is convenient and useful (we’re always just an internet search away from the answer to any question that pops into our heads, especially if our cellular phone has mobile internet), being connected so much results in something called “Information Overload”, a term coined by futurist Alvin Toffler back in 1970. The term refers to our inability to absorb and process all the information we’re exposed to, and this information is literally everywhere these days.

The problem defined

Information Overload, or “Information Fatigue Syndrome (IFS),” occurs when we over-expose ourselves to media, technology and information. Our brains have trouble keeping up with everything that we are feeding them, and the distorted-spin EMF energy fields we’re being exposed to don’t help the case (generated by cell phones and wi-fi). We end up having headaches and being exhausted and end up making mistakes and wrong decisions. The main point is, when exposed to too much information and technology, we tend to shut down.


Information Overload is now commonplace around the world, at work, at home and during leisure time. Some of the causes include:

– Widespread and easy access to the Internet

– Social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter

– Cheap and accessible use of cell phones, texting, and mobile internet

– Online and offline news, media, and advertising: TV, newspapers, magazines, and billboards

Simple solutions

The only upside to these problems is that they have a relatively simple solution; take a day off occasionally from being connected to any media and the internet, and set limits on your internet in terms of hours per day. These restrictions may sound scary for us web-addicted techno-humans, but it’s absolutely imperative if we want to regain control of our energy levels, mental health, and life in general in an increasingly information-infused modern era.

Take a full day off from all media and electronic devices (including cell phones; this may be nearly impossible for some), and go out into nature and pursue outdoor interests. If you feel better, which you likely will, take a day off occasionally whenever you need one. If you’d rather a set schedule, take one day per week and set it aside as a internet-free day. If this is too often, make it bi-monthly. Pick a schedule that fits in with work or school. A key point being that even good things need to be used in moderation, including useful techo-goodies as the internet, Facebook, and Twitter updates.

Sources for this article include:





About the author:
Zach C. Miller was raised from an early age to believe in the power and value of healthy-conscious living. He later found in himself a talent for writing, and it only made sense to put two & two together! He has written and published articles about health & wellness and other topics on ehow.com and here on NaturalNews. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Applied Science.


The problem, I’m sure, is that the vast majority of readers of this post will give a sage nod because they intuitively  agree and …… do nothing about it!  Trust me, I’m just as guilty.  My short-term memory is really crap and it feeds my worry that this may be early stage dementia. (My sister’s recent death from dementia doesn’t help!)

So even though my doctor spoke about the benefits of meditation, even though there have been other articles recently posted on this blog, even though I would, supposedly, do anything to arrest or reverse my memory problems, guess what; I’m pathetic!  Kept up taking 30 minutes away from everything for a week and then the good intentions crumbled.

If this verbal slap across my wrists is resonating out there, dear reader, then that’s good.  Because, I am going to try harder!  From today!

So how to close this! Obviously with more advice about meditating! None better than from Leo Babauta over on Zen Habits.  It’s called How to Meditate Daily.  Starts thus:

The habit of meditation is one of the most powerful things I’ve ever learned.

Amazingly, it’s also one of the most simple habits to do — you can do it anywhere, any time, and it will always have immediate benefits.

How many habits can you say that about?

While many people think of meditation as something you might do with a teacher, in a Zen Center, it can be as simple as paying attention to your breath while sitting in your car or on the train, or while sitting at the coffee shop or in your office, or while walking or showering.

It can take just one or two minutes if you’re busy. There’s no excuse for not doing it, when you simplify the meditation habit.

So, go on, take a couple of minutes to read the rest of the article!

And then realise there’s yet another wonderful lesson we learn from dogs – chilling out!

Cleo and Sweeny - just chilling out!
Sweeny and Cleo – just chilling out!

In Defence of Politics.

A guest post from Chris Snuggs.

Regular readers of Learning from Dogs will know that Chris often pops up on these pages. Most recently with Now this is a dog! and before that with Reflections on pain and peace.

I first met Chris many years ago when he was working for a French educational college with the name of ISUGA, based in Quimper, France. As a result of being introduced to Chris, I had the very good fortune of becoming a guest teacher at ISUGA.

Classroom picture taken at ISUGA.
Classroom picture taken at ISUGA.

Anyway, Chris has his own blog Nemo Insular Est. If the title doesn’t immediately say very much to you, try Chris’ sub-title: Truth, Justice, Sanity & Brotherhood.

Thus it is with great pleasure I offer this guest post from Chris.


In Defence of “Politics”

by Chris Snuggs.

The most depressing thing I ever heard at school was: “I’m not interested in politics.” Even at the age of 10, this seemed to me bizarre, for politics is at the heart of everything. It decides what we can eat, how much money we have, what sort of shelter we have, health, education, defence, what it takes to get locked up, EVERYTHING – including in the USA of course gun control …….

“Politics” completely arranges the environment of our existence, within which we can be individuals and lead some kind of “private life”, but nothing can function in a civilised manner without politics.

There is only one circumstance I can imagine when the statement: “I’m not interested in politics.” might possibly be justified, and that is if you lived in a society where everything was perfect: no injustice, hunger, or discomfort; excellent health, education, shelter and sustenance in a peaceful environment with nothing to worry about ….

There remains a niggling doubt about whether such a society would be just a teensy bit boring. However, the point is, has there ever been one? Does anyone KNOW one? Are they accepting immigrants?

If we accept that politics decides everything, then there are certain conclusions to be drawn. If it is so fundamentally important, is it not then legitimate to oblige everyone to vote, as they do in Australia for example? Then again, is it acceptable that we so easily tolerate as “democracy” elections where only 30% of eligible voters actually vote? And is it acceptable that the teaching of “politics” and all it involves holds such little place in our schools?

I would say “NO!!” And in fact, the study of politics involves so many branches of knowledge. You can’t (or shouldn’t) be taught “politics” without teaching psychology. Why is X saying that? What are his motivations? What is the psychology of voting groups. Or without studying logic, so as to recognize false arguments, of which there is no lack. You need to study what evidence is, since a political policy should be based on evidence, not fantasy or demagoguery.

In fact, just as politics decides everything then a study of politics involves just about every branch of knowledge, too. You cannot vote sensibly for party X which wants to build zillions of windfarms or go full-steam ahead on shale-fracking if you don’t have a reasonable understanding of the science, and of course environmental consequences. You can’t sensibly vote for or against grammar schools without a sound knowledge of the social and psychological rationale behind them or indeed of their history. The same applies to religion of course, and almost any other area you care to mention.

No, politics as a subject of study, discussion and involvement is vastly undervalued in our society. And the fact that politicians are often venal and incompetent liars is not a reason to be LESS interested in politics but a compelling reason to be MORE involved!! If you don’t get informed and involved, the politicians will do it THEIR way, and you have to ask yourself one final question: Do you REALLY trust them to do it in YOUR interests?


(Sorry about the late delivery!)

Fear versus Faith

“Fear comes from uncertainty. When we are absolutely certain, whether of our worth or worthlessness, we are almost impervious to fear.”  William Congreve, English playwright and poet.

It’s Sunday (i.e. yesterday).  I woke around 6am to a cold morning (28 deg F/-2.2 deg C), the result of a clear, moonlit night.

Then as the night sky lightened with the coming dawn, the green, forest-cloaked valleys, visible to the East through the bedroom windows filled with a white, morning mist.  In a metaphorical sense that descending mist matched a mood of gloom that was trying to descend on me.

Early morning mist, Merlin, Oregon
Early morning mist, taken 7:15 am Sunday, 24th Feb.

As I lay back against the headboard of the bed, Jean still sleeping close to me, dogs Cleo, Hazel and Sweeny snoozing on and around me, I pondered on my mood.  It came to me that I might be picking up the growing sense of anxiety, of uncertainty, that seems to be ‘in the air’.  Me reading too many blog articles about global warming, climate change, et al.  Being three-quarters through Professor Guy McPherson’s book Walking Away from Empire: A Personal Journey wasn’t helping either!

Then I recalled a recent conversation with dear friend and colleague from our Payson, AZ. days, John Hurlburt, who said that fear is the absence of faith.  That if we trust what will be will be, then we can counter the fear of the unknown and embrace the present day, one day at a time.  Living in the now as, you’ve guessed it, that dogs do so supremely well.  Something else to learn from dogs!

I made a decision to take a stroll in the forest, emotionally speaking, for this week, so far as Learning from Dogs is concerned.  Enjoy the beauty of the world around me and offer a few essays on the meaning of life. No blog posts at all about anything that engenders fear from any quarter!

And if that doesn’t slash the readership figures, I don’t know what will! So there! You have been warned.

So let me start by offering this essay from John.  John is one of those rare people who has been through more than his fair share of ‘challenges’ over the years, yet has grown from those experiences.

Here’s John – I’m turning over and going back to sleep!


Education, Formation and Transformation

Most Americans remain comfortably complacent despite world economic brinksmanship, the escalating deterioration of our planetary environment and raging world discontent. Although we may be caring and compassionate in our personal lives, we are often reluctant to take any risk of reducing our personal comfort.

Education is a process. A process of learning how to think life through in order to become aware of whom we are, what we are, where we are, and why we exist. Education has always been the human gateway to a better future.

Knowledge does not guarantee wisdom. Education, formation and transformation are an integrated process which includes studying to gain knowledge, making natural connections based on the best information available, and experiencing the higher levels of conscious awareness we recognize as wisdom. The educational process works best when it is open minded, factual and sustained. We learn best when we learn together.

The human wisdom tradition is rich in myth, mysticism, symbols, imagination and creativity. It tells a common story of emergence through centuries of sacred writings stretching back through time to the earliest human cave scratchings roughly 17,000 years ago, and the beauty of the prayers of the Rig-Veda 12,000 years ago which all begin with an homage to the natural energy of the Sun.

We’re conscious components of a living planet. We’re surface dwellers with exposure to universal and planetary energies. Our species is only 200,000 years old. The universe is roughly 13 billion years old. Our planet is deteriorating and we’ve lost our collective moral compass. What can we do to make a local difference?

We only recently learned to hunt woolly mammoths in packs using bows, arrows and spears as tools. A perception of God in relation to our responsibility to each other and creation exists as the foundation of a human wisdom tradition which, relatively speaking, has just began.

In many ways, nothing seems to have changed as we have passed through successive cyclic waves of emergence and contraction. It becomes simultaneously increasingly more complex and exquisitely simple to understand. That is as we begin to realize how our metanexus emerges, contracts and turns inside out without breaking … like a pulse.

The next ten years are more important than the next several thousand years in respect to the choices we make about our biosphere.

There seems to be little doubt that our world problems are steadily increasing. What’s the next right thing to do?  It’s time to grow our conscious connection in God. It’s time to share the spring of human wisdom from the ground up. It’s time to develop a world economy which is gentle to the earth.

The Clearing Rests in Song and Shade

The clearing rests in song and shade.
It is a creature made
By old light held in soul and leaf.
By humans joy and grief,
By human work,
Fidelity of sight and stroke,
By rain, by water on
The parent stone.
We join our work to Heaven’s gift,
Our hope to what is left,
That field and woods at last agree
In an economy
Of widest worth.
High Heaven’s Kingdom come on earth,
Imagine Paradise
O dust, arise!

Wendell Berry; 1909


The illiterate of the future will not be the person who cannot read. It will be the person who does not know how to learn.” Alvin Toffler

Future shock

“Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.” Leo Tolstoy

I am going to refer to some ideas before explaining from whom they came, and when.

Try this: the term “future shock” is defined as a certain psychological state of individuals and entire societies. The shortest definition for the term is a personal perception of “too much change in too short a period of time”.

Or try this: society is undergoing an enormous structural change, a revolution from an industrial society to a “super-industrial society”. This change will overwhelm people, the accelerated rate of technological and social change leaving them disconnected and suffering from “shattering stress and disorientation” – future shocked. It was stated that the majority of social problems were symptoms of the future shock.

Stay with me a little longer as I pose a few questions.  How do you feel at the moment?  Slightly unsure of where the world is going right now? Feeling a little unsettled?

Why those questions?  With the Dow Jones index heading down through 11,130 (at the time of writing on the 8th) and ‘chaos across markets’ headlines all over the place these are very unsettling times

Last week’s edition of The Economist had five pages about the present uncertain times in the USA.

August 6th, 2011

Here’s a quote from an article entitled,

Six years into a lost decade

The numbers keep being revised inexorably downwards

The rough news did not end there. The Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) revised its numbers back through the recession, revealing a downturn more serious than previously understood. The BEA’s first estimate of output in the fourth quarter of 2008, published in January of 2009, showed a contraction of 3.8%, later revised to a 6.8% drop. The new numbers change the figure yet again, to a shocking 8.9% fall in GDP. For 2009 as a whole, the American economy shrank by 3.5% rather than the previously reported 2.6%. American output has yet to reattain its 2007 peak. On a per-person basis, inflation-adjusted GDP stands at virtually the same level as in the second quarter of 2005. America is six years into a lost decade. [my emphasis]

So back to those comments about  ‘future shock’.  They come from a gentleman known across the world for his writings as a futurist, Alvin Toffler.  His website is here and there is a good review of the man and his works on Wikipedia.

Alvin Toffler, born 1928

Toffler’s book, Future Shock, from 1970 was prescient in forecasting …. well here’s how it is written on Wikipedia,

Toffler argues that society is undergoing an enormous structural change, a revolution from an industrial society to a “super-industrial society“. This change will overwhelm people, the accelerated rate of technological and social change leaving them disconnected and suffering from “shattering stress and disorientation” – future shocked. Toffler stated that the majority of social problems were symptoms of the future shock. In his discussion of the components of such shock, he also popularized the term “information overload.”

But there’s an aspect that wasn’t even on the horizon when Toffler was writing that book in the late 60s – the end of growth.  That is creating a whole new level of change and ‘information overload’, in my opinion.

Just a few days ago, I reviewed the Paul Gilding book The Great Disruption.  I quoted this extract from the very start of the book,

This means things are going to change.  Not because we will choose change out of philosophical or political preference, but because if we don’t transform our society and economy, we risk social and economic collapse and the descent into chaos.  The science on this is now clear and accepted by any rational observer.  While an initial look at the public debate may suggest controversy, any serious examination of the peer-reviewed conclusions of leading science bodies shows the core direction we are heading in is now clear.  Things do not look good.

These challenges and the facts  behind them are well-known by experts and leaders around the world, and have been for decades.  But despite this understanding, that we would at some point pass the limits to growth, it has been continually filed away to the back of our mind and the back of our drawers, with the label “Interesting – For Consideration Later” prominently attached.  Well, later has arrived.

Indeed, ‘later’ has arrived.  The ‘future’ is now here!

Watch the first 10 minutes of the Future Shock film made back in 1972 and ponder.

The following four parts are easily found on YouTube.

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference. Reinhold Niebuhr