Deep Living 101: Defining What it Means to Live Deeply in a Shallow World

[Editor’s Note: This is the first installment of a new three-part series at the New Pursuit. Based on the amazing feedback to my questions about the value this blog brings to you, it makes sense to take a step back and do a bit of level setting. This installment explores the elements of ‘deep living’. The second installment will serve as an introduction to my personal experiences living this kind of life. The final piece will offer steps for beginning (or continuing!) this path. To get them all, consider subscribing via RSS or email. Thanks.]


jasontheaker, deep living, the new pursuit, living deeplyWith so many new subscribers to The New Pursuit (I am SO grateful for your readership!), it makes sense to pause, take a step back and level set on what this blog is all about.

The Building Blocks of The New Pursuit

The tagline of this blog is “One Life. One Planet. Live Deeply.” So what does that really mean anyway?

I write about the intersection of three critical elements to the human existence: Life, Nature and Being. Many blogs and resources already exist that focus on each one separately. But at TNP, I explore their synergy because I believe they are strongly interconnected. So while you may have stumbled upon TNP through one angle, I hope you take the time to open up and explore the influential nature of the others.

The rationale for exploring the connection and advancement of all three elements is because I am trying to answer – as puts it – my One Burning Question*: How is the human existence and experience transformed to one of balance, harmony and sustainability for the long-term viability of the entire eco-sphere? 

The intersection of Life, Nature and Being is what I call ‘eco-being’. Broadly speaking, ‘eco-being’—as I define it—can be both a noun and a verb. The latter meaning a way of living that elevates the human existence to one of profound joy, sustainable prosperity and lasting kinship with all Life. The former can be used to describe those who leading this kind of life. I believe that as time goes on, there is an ever-growing movement towards this enlightened experience. More about this will be discussed in Part Three of this series.

The Path of Deep Living

Of course, there are so set rules for how to live deeply. And frankly, you may even call this type of living something else entirely. That’s OK. Labels can be rigid and confining. The end—this enlightened life experience—is more important that the means of getting there.

When you live deeply each day you are living deliberately and with intent. I believe there to be a four-fold path to this:

1. Strive towards a simple or minimalist lifestyle

When you live simply your focus is on what is most important to you. Such a minimalist approach helps you to shed what is unnecessary and embrace the essential. This could mean material things, thoughts, ideologies, food, drink – the list goes on. Too much of Life these days is caught up in the frivolous pursuit of more. Why? Perhaps even with all that is at our fingertips we still feel shallowness in our hearts and spirits. The Throwaway Culture of Convenience has us bogged down, constrained and complacent.

Learning to clear the clutter from our lives and re-focus on the beauty and inspiration that already exists around us is a cornerstone of living deeply. The up-tick? Adopting a simple or minimalist lifestyle is an amazing step towards living in a more sustainable way for the long-term health and wellbeing of our beautiful Earth.

2. Become One with Nature, not apart or above it

Humanity has lost its deep connection with the natural world. Where once we cherished and respected the bounty that the Earth provides, we now see its resources as merely a pathway to profit and convenience. This is because humans view themselves as being apart from or above Nature. The idea that one species out of the millions that call the Earth home can lay dominion over the entire eco-sphere redefines what it means to be selfish. Such a mindset is leading us down a dangerous road with dire consequences: massive species die-off, climate change, habitat destruction, food and water shortages, environmental refugees, the eventual end of carbon-based energy… you get the picture.

When we change our perspectives to being One with Nature, we see ourselves and the life of the planet differently. You wouldn’t consciously harm a parent or loved one, would you? By reconnecting with the life-giving essence of Mother Earth, we begin to look at each action we take differently. How might this harm the planet? Does this action have downstream effects that can harm another being (human or otherwise)? Is what I am doing now helping to preserve this Home for future generations? Such a shift in perspective takes root in the deepest realms of our spirit. You sense the limitless energy that surrounds us. It is life-changing.

3. Allow mindfulness to bring the present moment into focus

Developing and practicing mindfulness—the awareness and joy of the present moment—is a game-changer. All too often we fret about the past or future, about things that we have no control over. So much energy is wasted on this — to the point where we miss out on the simple beauty and satisfaction of what is happening right here and now. When you dwell in mindfulness each activity you undertake is enjoyable because that is all that matters at the moment. Even simple everyday things take on new meaning.

One of the best tools for developing mindfulness is meditation. This could be traditional sitting meditation or walking meditation or even just finding quiet time to close our eyes, focus on our breath and relax. Learning to develop our mind’s capacity to embrace on the moment and not be sidetracked by unwanted thoughts enables us to approach our day-to-day much differently. (For the fellow parents out there, mindfulness can be an amazing tool when it comes to dealing with the trials and tribulations of raising children! More about this in Part Two of the series.)

4. Live by example and share this insight with others, especially children

We are all catalysts. Each one of us has the capacity to change what we view as wrong with the world. Once we have changed ourselves we should share what we know with others – either directly or indirectly. Blogging or volunteering in your community are great ways of doing this. But even the quiet fortitude of leading by example can do wonders.

As a parent, I am keenly aware of my personal responsibility to leave my three children (ages 7, 5 and 15 months) a world that is prosperous not perilous. But as we shift our perspectives and sense of being to that of what Thomas Berry calls the broader ‘Community of Life’, we begin to see our responsibility to ALL children throughout the world. The possibility of equipping our future generations with new ways of living, thriving and sustaining all Life is a moral obligation. Teaching our children that happiness lies in what is within and not through material gain is one of the most wonderful gifts we could ever give them.


I hope this brief introduction to the foundational elements of deep living has given you something to think about and explore. In the next post, I will talk about some of my personal experiences that have led me to this path and how I apply it practically in my day-to-day.

Are you taking steps to live deeply each day? If so, please consider sharing through a comment and helping out your fellow readers. My take is just one of many. The value is seeing how others are embracing this life-changing way of living.

Be well,

If you found value in this post, please consider sharing it with your circle through Twitter or one of the other social media tools below. * Thanks to Lynn over at Upcycled Love for challenging me to come up with my One Burning Question! You may also enjoy these other posts:

[Image: jasontheaker]

8 Responses to “Deep Living 101: Defining What it Means to Live Deeply in a Shallow World”
  1. Ali Dark says:

    Hi Bill – I’m an aspiring eco-being myself :) I do meditate (inner sound and light variety) daily.

    Still, finding meaning in life is hard. We’re always living with the consequences of decisions gone past that encourage me to repeat mistakes and hold me in confusion. But there’s only one way up and that’s up.

    Getting into nature to quite the mind and refresh the body is something I need to start doing. I just need an excuse to tip me into it… a digital SLR perhaps??? LOL

  2. Bill Gerlach says:

    Ali // You know, I’ve tried to find that meaning too — in a lot of different places and in a lot of different ways. But always seeming to just feel like I need to look around one more corner…

    It is at that point where I am today — realizing that it is just doing what I am doing at the moment that contains all the meaning that I’ll ever need. Slowly but surely, I’m letting go of the big, grandiose idea that there is “something” out there that I need to find in favor of allowing what is inside to blossom more. I think it is already there — I just need to uncover it more.

    Time will tell, I suppose. ;) Thanks for stopping by and sharing. Appreciate it! Be well!

  3. Terrance Kalka says:

    “The idea that one species out of the millions that call the Earth home can lay dominion over the entire eco-sphere redefines what it means to be selfish.”

    Perhaps the selfishness is not in our dominance of the eco-sphere, but that in doing so we have ignored our obligations (or responsibilities) to the eco-sphere for being the dominant species.

  4. Bill Gerlach says:

    Terrance // As always, thanks for the thoughtful comments. You have kind of flipped that perspective on its head. You bring up something that until only a year or two ago I would not even bothered to think through, but now, have to really ponder it: Are humans the dominant species? From certain angles (e.g., taming of resources, physical footprint, etc.), yes we are. But from others (e.g., being ‘in tune’ with our surroundings) perhaps we are not. But of course, that argument requires that humans not be the only beings with some level of awareness of self and other faculties that for so long we have said only belong to humans.

    Are those faculties ours alone? I think of stories I’ve heard around animal intelligence and emotion and it makes you pause and reflect on what we REALLY know about our fellow beings. That’s worth a whole other series of posts, I’m sure.

    But at the end of the day, I think for the near term, we have to meet somewhere in the middle of what you’re proposing: There is value in both stepping back from our position of dominance over the eco-sphere as well as stepping up and making good on those obligations — especially given all that we know about what it is we’re doing (and not doing).

    Thanks again. Be well.

  5. Stephen Dill says:

    Bill et al, take this a little deeper and you gain a different perspective and begin to see a reason for the seeming chaos around us. I mentioned “What The Bleep!?” to you on Facebook, Bill. This is a view of the world through the lens of quantum mechanics. All the universe is particles and energy. The behavior of particles is not the same as the bodies and mass made up of the same groups of particles and energy. Yet those properties we are only now beginning to understand and observe are very similar to “unexplained behaviors” we have wondered about for centuries, telekinesis, clairvoyance, telepathy and the like. The only mechanism that can shape energy is the feelings generated by human brain.

    This study of quantum physics at that fundamental level of particles and energy is establishing evidence that there is intelligence that has created and maintained the universe for eons. It is clear it will exist forever. We, and everything, are expressions of that pure, perfect energy. Gaining consciousness of that relieves us of guilt we feel (such as our impact on the environment) and fear we may feel for our future, effectively allowing us to focus on using our incredible power to manifest the good that is held in the energy at our core. This is because there is no beginning to the energy we spring from, and there is no end.

    We’ll get it all right eventually, but for now, we need to concentrate on our own business of living by absolute principals. Ultimately, that will bring everything else into alignment.

    Glad to know some of the others along the path of rising consciousness!

  6. Bill Gerlach says:

    Stephen // I just put that film in our Netflix queue — thanks for the recommendation. I completely agree with that premise. It’s weird (in a good way) but you can begin to get a sense of that energy (or at least I can) when you immerse yourself in Nature. When I allow myself to open up and just BE amidst the outdoor elements, I feel like I can ‘plug’ into that energy somehow. That said, being able to sense and plug into it is one thing; to then take it and harness it for personal and collective good is another thing entirely.

    I often contemplate the notion of focused thought and intention. In some circles that might be known as ‘prayer’ or ‘meditation’ or even noetics. Imagine how different the world might be if Western Society spent as much time developing their minds as they did their bodies. Imagine if children were taught the tenets of mindfulness or focused thought during their school day just as if they were learning math or reading. The potential is powerful, indeed.

    Thanks again for stopping by and leaving such a great comment. I appreciate it greatly! Be well.

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