Media disconnect, Soul reconnect
Last week I completed a sadhana (spiritual practice) that required me to give up all forms of media and entertainment for 9 days. No TV, social media, books, magazines or music.
I disconnected from the buzz of the world while still living in it.
It was like a retreat but instead of taking myself away somewhere peaceful and quiet I was at home going to work and cooking dinner like always. It was a very interesting ,eye opening experience.
The time I would normally spend with my face in front of a screen was replaced with being. Being with myself and my thoughts.
I also had to do quite a lot of puja ( spiritual practices) which took time, but there was still a lot of time that I left. Time that I couldn't fill with the usual suspects, the usual time fillers. It was a whole new world!
Over the 9 days I was able to observe my habits. I was also able to see how strongly I was drawn to doing certain things and how often. I saw how strongly I was drawn to certain things, how much I wanted to be doing something and how much more time I had when I couldn't.
When it finished and I was able to do all these things again I learnt even more.
My guilty pleasure of buying the Sunday paper, pulling out the supplements, throwing the news to the side, and sitting back with a cup of chai was my first teacher. As I sat there ready to delve back into the land of gloss and information, I noticed a difference within myself. The articles were far less appealing. I didn't want to read much of it at all.
I realised that I had previously read things I wasn't that interested in because they were there. I was reading on auto-pilot!
So I did something new - I only read the articles I was really interested in. It certainly made my chill out time of tea and magazine a whole lot shorter but it was also far more rewarding. I had taken my power back from these pieces of paper that I held in my hands and it felt good!
As I reintroduced other forms of media back into my life. I stopped and thought about the action. I asked myself why I was going to engage with it and then made myself turn it off, or put it down when it had become an act of mindlessness or distraction.
But it's not easy! Even with this awareness I can see how quickly and easily I can and do slip back into those habits again! Arr why are habits so much easier to break than to make them!?!
But don't get me wrong entertainment is fine, I'm all for chilling out with a good book, a good movie or watching something on TV. We all need to switch off and escape reality now and then. It's great to be entertained, but we have gotten to the point where that is the norm and we do very little else.
When it becomes as a way to avoid thinking, reflecting and contemplating and being with ourselves then it is an issue.
Some of us give ourselves 1 hour a day or a couple of hours a week meditate, do yoga and spend time alone which is great, but what about the other hours? They are crammed full of visual clutter and noise. The balance is all wrong we need to flip it around. We need to spend more time connecting with ourselves, our friends and our family and less time disconnecting and switching off.
So I'm making a conscious effort to be more mindful about what I do with my time.
I don't want to be sucked back into the void, back into the mindless habit of looking and searching. The habit of reading things that I am not particularly interested in because they are presented to me, and not taking the time for things that add value to my life.
If you are interested in doing a media detox then follow these steps.
Explain to your family and friends what you are doing and if your lucky they will join you if not you will need to work around them.
No TV, social media, internet (except for work of course), newspapers, magazines, books, music, concerts, festivals etc for 9 days.
During the 9 days notice what you miss, what you have trouble letting go of and what was easy. Observe where your mind goes and how you feel. It might be a good idea to journal your experiences.
After the 9 days have finished slowly and gently reintroduce media into your life. As you do be very observant of how it effects you. Observe what you are drawn to and what you no longer find interesting. Make notes of this in your journal.
Here are some questions I have been asking myself along the way.
Am I reading/watching this because :
I find it interesting and enjoyable?
to stop myself thinking?
to stop myself doing something I should? (hands up all the procrastinators out there!!)
it is adding to my life in a positive and productive way?
Does this program feed my soul?
Is it creating positive thoughts?
Is it uplifting and inspiring?
Is it inline with my values and beliefs?
Does it bring me closer to peace?
Does it feed my fears and negative beliefs?
How many hours do you have when you get home before you go to bed?
How many hours do you spend watching TV, Netflix, on social media or surfing the net?
How much time do you spend with yourself and your mind?
How much time do you spend being creative?
How much time do you spend doing things that make your heart sing?
How much more time would you like to find in your days and weeks?
Now that you have detoxed from the media and foudn what you do and don't really need in your life and what you really need to keep under control you will have a lot of extra time. I have created a list of other things you can do to entertain yourself.
Alternatives to the mass media
Do a spiritual practice
Go for a walk
Have a bath
Spend time with your partner, children, friends, family or pets
Spend time with yourself
Spend time in nature
Listen to music
Write poetry (you may surprise yourself!)
Draw, paint, be creative
Clean the house ( it has such a positive effect on your well-being)
Learn a musical instrument
It's OK to escape sometimes, but when we loose the balance and just continually escape and divert our attention then we have lost ourselves. It is then that we need to take stock and ask ourselves why we need to fill up all our time with doing or not doing and how we can readjust our lives to find more time for us.
If you are embarking on this journey I wish you luck. If you need encouragement or support, or wish to share your success please leave a comment or get in touch.
All the best and happy being!