Last week I completed a sadhana (spiritual practice). I gave 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 I didn’t go 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.
My 9-day detox
I got up and did my spiritual practices which took time, but there was still A LOT 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 saw what my habits were. And I saw what things had the greatest hold over me. What I wanted to do the most and how often. And I saw how much more time I had without them.
When it finished and I was able to do all these things again I learnt even more.
What I learnt
My guilty pleasure of sitting back with a cup of chai and the supplements in the Sunday paper was my first teacher. As I sat there ready to delve back into the land of gloss, 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 was no longer interesting. It had become an act of mindlessness or distraction that I no longer wanted to be part of.
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 it. I love 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 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 affects 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?
- it’s there?
- to escape?
- 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?
Pay attention to how you fill your time. What you read, see and hear all have a great effect on your thoughts and beliefs. Make sure what you absorb is going to lift you up and create positive thoughts and vibrations.