Concurrent with the rapid pace of globalization, there is a movement afoot - one that values a free-flowing, borderless, nomadic lifestyle focused on mental wellbeing, quality of life and the natural world.
We can attribute the definition of this new generation to Ayesha Khanna, director of The Hybrid Reality Institute. In 2011 interview with the New York Times, Khanna introduced the idea of a new era of human evolution: “Humanity has had four technological revolutions. We had the Stone Age, the Agrarian Age, the Industrial Age and the Information Age. I believe we have entered a new era, the Hybrid Age.” She defined this new age as “characterised by increasing intelligence of technology,” pointing out that while modern technologies offer breakthroughs in wellbeing, they can also be divisive. If only the wealthiest are able to afford the benefits of the latest technological breakthroughs, those who cannot afford to access cutting edge advancements will be shut out from social mobility. “When some people live longer, are stronger and fitter (because of technology) it will be very hard for other people to compete with them,” Khanna said.
Could this inequality of access be partially the motivation behind the emergence of digital nomads, pioneer wellness migrants and yogic adventure travellers et al? Has our deep rooted survival instinct spurred our reversion to ancient innate wellness practices like yoga and meditation? What is the connection between advanced technology and simple, age old truths of living?
On one hand, the Information Age introduced social and technological changes that catalysed and transformed the way humans live today, making the world a more virtually connected place. With its fast flowing information and quick access to knowledge, the past era brought urban and rural areas closer together in cyber space. With only a “click” people in rural areas could leapfrog social and geographical constraints to access an urban reality - something unimaginable two decades, let alone a century ago. On the other hand - with technological advancement, humans have moved further away from the unabridged, full-contact, close-knit & communicative way of living associated with life in a rural community.
At the same time, urban and suburban living has become significantly more expensive than living in areas with low density and large amounts of free space. Paradoxically, suburban living can put a huge strain on the environment in terms of commuting (e.g. work, school, provisions) and the need for more expansive infrastructure. Its clear now that over-urbanization is putting an unsustainable stress on the natural world by threatening the inextricable balance between the wellbeing of human and the wellbeing of environment.
This chasm has resulted in a new wave of urban-exodus of people instinctively searching for a natural urban/rural alternative that balances the use of technology with innate human truths of self care.
To paraphrase Kate Soper, an inspiring environmental philosopher and emerita professor of philosophy at London Metropolitan University, it’s important to keep rethinking modern life goals by reimagining a more sustainable and sensual way of living. Converting to a slower-paced, more time-enriched way of being that meets our daily needs more productively. By leveraging creativity and pioneering technology of the Hybrid Era we are creating an alternative path forward. Path that values a sustainable and equitable quality of life.
Soper advocates for the melding of traditional methods alongside with emerging green technologies in an effort to redefine the aesthetics of a material culture without creating a legacy of unrecyclable waste.
In an article for thenextsystem.org, Soper, while coining a term ‘Alternative Hedonist’, adds: “Those who commit to a renaissance movement of this kind are not likely ever to regret it, nor will those who come after them.” She is inarguably right.
The way we live and the spaces we live in both reflect the state of our inner space. Modern day pilgrims of the back-to-nature movement are relearning the ability to “drop out” on demand by replacing the fight-or-flight (aka acute stress) response, inherent to the western lifestyle, with practices of yoga & meditation. By choosing to spend time in environments that stimulate the senses and reprioritising our relationship with nature, we can jump start a full-engaged, experiential way of living. Whether its a family adventure trip to the Blue Zone of Costa Rica or a yoga retreat in the jungle - the “jeepsetter” mentality and its mindfully hedonistic quest carry an instinct of survival. Urge to thrive is sidelining the jetsetter ways as the aspirational way of living for this generation.
In our 5 part series on Living Light we will continue to explore the evolution of our physical spaces in this new Hybrid Era, taking a closer look at reimagined personal space - an oasis that reflects the values of this new generation, creating an ultimate Third Skin. We will be introducing you to the indisputable appeal of mindful luxury and take you on tour through the new luxury villas of Nosara - a village where mindful hedonism is being put into practice through design that engages five human senses by reconnecting with the natural world.
Part II | Coming to Your Senses
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