I challenge you to stop watching the news, listening to news radio, or reading news magazines and websites, and NOT feel better. I certainly felt much calmer, relaxed, peaceful, and at ease without that constant stream of negativity conditioning us to believe that this is the dominant way of our world.
The proof for me is asking this question: how many people do I know personally that commit violent acts or are violated on a daily basis? I don’t know any people who commit acts of terror, murder, rape, robbery, or battery, and yet if I watch the news I’m told these people are everywhere all around me. And even if our world is this violent how does sitting on the couch watching endless stories about it help?
Shortly after I stopped following the news cycle my worldview changed significantly and I felt much better and hopeful of the future.
Some might call this sticking my head in the sand. I say it’s the exact opposite, rather than let someone else tell me how the world is I go outside and see for myself. When I see a neighbor’s post on Facebook, reporting car break-ins, fearful thoughts run through my mind. Then walking outside I see my car and my neighbors’ cars fine as can be and safe and sound.
For every car break in how many cars are let be? Is it 1 in 10, 1 in 100, or maybe even 1 or 1000? When was the last time there was a news report that said, “Today 99% of cars and homes are safe and sound and securely parked on the clean streets of our beautiful neighborhood“? I have yet to see a mainstream news report like that, so why poison my perception with unrealistic negativity, why condition myself to live in constant fear of extremely rare events?
I remember hearing a rock star being interviewed about the power of music and how anything we take in repeatedly influences us, listening to and singing a song over and over again changes our perception. Why let someone else choose the songs by listening to a preprogrammed station or playlist? How about intentionally making a music playlist that has a message that is in alignment with our hopes and dreams? Songs that remind us how amazing we are and how beautiful the world is.
I listened to nothing but Bob Marley for 2 or 3 years, and then I stopped. I became aware that one of the themes in many of his songs is struggle and conflict. I realized I don’t want to be a fighter fighting battle after battle.
I am a peacemaker, I AM calm, ease, life, joy, cooperation, community, and I am against nothing.
So I started searching for music that has these themes, at first it was challenging as a lot of music has a message of complaint or separation. Then once I found one artist singing a message in line with my values it snowballed and I found plenty of music, movies, interviews, and audiobooks.
Groucho Marx is quoted as saying he finds Television very educational, as every time someone turns it on he goes into another room and reads a book. I often ask the person watching TV if we can turn it off and do something fun together, or watch something positive, uplifting, and inspirational. If they are unwilling then I find TV very productive, as I usually go into another room and work on my favorite projects. Sometimes I will sit and watch whatever is on because I want some time with that person, or I am at someone’s house who has the TV on all day.
The power of suggestion
Seeing the programming on Television these days what really jumps out at me are the advertisements, ad after ad of prescription drugs. The message sent is that drugs are normal and necessary for human survival, and that disease is a natural part of being human. Also in the programming is the dangerous message that annihilating symptoms is the way to go, instead of welcoming and listening to the message the symptoms carry. Seeking the root cause or misalignment and taking steps to get back into a healthy harmonious way of living.
In Charles Lindbergh’s book he voiced his concern that TV portrays an unrealistic view of life. The unconscious ideas being broadcast are that this behavior is normal as everyone does it. I see a subtle statement that says this is how humans are supposed to behave – in relationships, to strangers, at work, and with children. Whether the actors fight all the time or never fight, or married characters sleep in different beds or have sex all the time, regardless of what’s being shown we begin to believe that this is how life is and has always been.
Television and media are so dominant in many people’s lives and for their entire life, how do they know reality outside of what media tells them about it? A child is raised by one or two adults who watch TV all day, the child also watches TV or mobile devices all day on into adulthood, how can he or she know nature or their own nature and have any connection to the earth or each other? Even when the programming may be positive it’s still scripted and edited with a soundtrack or voice over, and it is 24/7 with autoplay on by default, a continuous uninterrupted stream of unreality.
The antidote for me is to intentionally set a time to unplug and turn off all devices.
Some people freak out when hearing this idea, they say they need to be available for work or need “something” on in the background. My hunch is that what’s going here is their inner critic becomes very loud without an external distraction. Thoughts of being unworthy and unloved trigger feelings of anxiety and the fear of being abandoned. We feel overwhelmed and hit the panic button, rushing to distract ourselves with media and to keep busy with an endless to do list.
Possibly it is deeper than this, all of us are descendants of tribal peoples where the “background” was our village talking, playing music, singing, and dancing together. Maybe this is the “something” that we are unconsciously missing, the unease that we are all longing to soothe?
Even on our own the ancient wisdom of our ancestors gives us tools to manage any thoughts and feelings that we experience, daily practice gives us the skills we need to handle any life situation we face. Talk of divorce or disease or death used scare me to the point of literally running away from people. I needed 2 to 3 years of repair work to relearn how to welcome all of life, all of my feelings, and to know and welcome all of myself. I started with an adviser for weekly one on one sessions, and then a group to practice with 2 to 3 days a week. I found myself surrounded by people who are on a spiritual path and practice welcoming each other’s gifts and talents.
Quite different from the critical blame and shame ways common where I grew up. Initially I was quite uncomfortable in a welcoming environment, revealing parts of my true self was scary as I was expecting to be told I was to different and needed to change. It took me a while to trust that all of myself was welcome and valuable. Much like turning off the news and TV there was a transition period as I let go of old habits and adopted new ones. I am very glad I did and have no desire to go back into hiding or listening to daily doom and gloom reports.
One of my favorite meditations is where I sit and repeat a mantra of wishing myself well.
Some variant of: may I be well, peaceful, loved; or I am loved; or may I feel loved, accepted, appreciated, belonging. I did this for about 6 months everyday, and now do it anytime I am feeling distressed. I do this because it works for me and I feel better. I find this mantra to be a powerful antidote to the message of negativity that I see in mainstream media and hear people repeating in conversation.
Sometimes our internet connection slows down or is disconnected and there is some troubleshooting required to reconnect to the full signal strength. This happens with our connection to the universe and often we are unaware of it and never bother to troubleshoot, don’t know how, or are told we have no connection. I once sent an angry snarky email to a blogger who dared to write about turning off the TV, I was convinced we just needed better programming. The meaning of the bumper sticker, “Kill Your Television” was lost on me. Now I understand what a slippery slope TV and watching someone else’s programming can be.
I have a hard time seeing two TVs on at once or listening to music while watching a movie, it’s to distracting. I find it similar with my internal signal and need to turn off the volume of the noise around me and in my head to hear my inner guidance. As entertaining and stimulating as TV is I prefer to tune into life’s channel or station which is broadcasting a frequency of light, love, peace, and joy. Any troubleshooting or work to reconnect to my source is well worth any effort and practice. If you are wondering how do I do this, I find that a great question to ask.
I feel sad that we have lost the rich traditions our ancestors had of telling stories, playing music, singing, and dancing with each other. The latest online games with 3D goggles, headsets, vibrating chairs, and such sure seem like unhealthy substitutes for face to face hand to hand interactions. Everyone I know has a great time at wedding receptions. The tribal cultures we descend from celebrated in that way regularly, it feels good so why not? It seems part of the dilemma is our modern entertainment is so “photoshopped” that we don’t appreciate raw unedited stories and music. At the same time I suspect recorded or streaming entertainment is missing the vibration and connection we feel when in a drum circle or gathering around a fire, it’s called “live” entertainment for a reason.
A simple and fun thing I’ve been playing around with is to pick up a wooden spoon and gently drum on all the surfaces and items in the kitchen. Metal, wood, walls, tile, glass it all has a different sound and this changes again depending on how full a container is and if its contents are liquid or a solid. My son loves when I do this, and singing to him also. He doesn’t care if I sing off key or mumble the words, or I am “breathy”. He enjoys the interaction and so do I. So how about we give it a try and grab some spoons or sticks or use our hands and play a rhythm and sing a song? Tell a story, act it out, build a drum, dance, celebrate, get together, have fun…