Lessons From A Media Fast
I am returning, deeply changed, from a 5-day media fast (as part of the Wild Elephant Project).
I did not completely break from all forms of media, but I did challenge myself enough to create profound realizations. (You can learn more about my specific practice HERE.)
I am almost certain you can benefit from my experience. Here's why.
I am addicted to my habits of mental stimulation.
I know I am not alone.
When waiting for my son to arrive on the bus or food to arrive at a restaurant, I always reached for my phone to check for new emails or Facebook updates. If my phone was unavailable, I would search out a menu to read or start scribbling ideas for LifeUnity. While eating breakfast, I'd constantly have something there to read or for my eyes to scan over. I need(ed) something to keep my mind busy.
When at home, I find myself constantly checking Facebook, clicking from one website to the next (often without fully reading the site and just leaving the tab open so I'll look at it later), moving from one productive thing to the next distraction.
Distraction from what? The discomfort of not being mentally stimulated. The angst of realizing what a noisy, jumbled mess my mind is. The pain of acknowledging how little control I (currently) have over that mess.
While reading a book this past week (one of the forms of media I allowed myself during the media fast), I would notice my mind wondering. Out of instinct, I reached away from the book. It doesn't really matter for what I was reaching - the laptop, my phone, a drink or a bite of food.
What matters is that I couldn't stay attended to the moment.
I couldn't focus my attention for more than a few minutes. And when I was focused on something, it was often out of habit - not conscious choice.
Now, this may not seem like a big deal (i.e. worthy of attention) to some people. After all, we are so used to living this way...and everyone else is doing it...so why bother trying to change?
There are always consequences to actions - whether they are consciously chosen actions or not.
Living in such a sleep-walking, constantly distracted manner is not a sustainable way to live. If we are "lucky", we may schlop our way through our days and find our way to the grave, but the earth and our children will pay the price. If we are "unlucky", we may be forced to face the soul-draining repercussions of our actions ourselves.
Regardless of the consequences, if we truly want to live FREELY, we must acknowledge those chains that keep us bound.
We might think we are making the choice to watch the t.v. show or scroll through Facebook or eat that second helping. But try to stop doing it and see what resistance shows up. More likely than not, you will find some part of you that fights, that simply wants to be comfortable in the habit...no matter how deadening the consequences might be.
This is where I am. This realization, along with others I haven't yet found the words for, has started a change in the entire structure of what I call my "business"....not to mention the changes these perspectives have created in my day-to-day routine.
I don't want to offer any further hints as to what is coming. It is enough to sit with these realizations for now.
I invite you to challenge yourself as well. Whether it is a media fast, a job evaluation, a 5-year plan or simply putting down that muffin before you take the next bite, I encourage you to see where your habits lie. Just see. Just acknowledge. No pressure to change.
Then maybe - just maybe - a bit more freedom to decide what you do next.