Media Fast: one week(ish) later
(Throughout this writing I am going to share some beautiful pictures from the Mojave…no real reason, they haven’t anything to do with the media fast. I want to share them and can’t think of a reason why not to, so I’m going to. If you have been to the Mojave I am sure you have felt its sense of peace. It felt a lot like the simple peace I experienced in my one week break.)
About two weeks ago I wrote about the many reasons for taking an electronic media fast. You can check it out HERE. To sum it up, reasons included: headaches, wasted time, poor sleep, and puffy skin. Can you relate?
During the fast I took note of my body, my mind, and my time. I did my best to form no preconceived judgments or expectations.
Jump into the car, tune into NPR. “Shoot, this is media!!!” Radio off, it is very quiet.
My Body: LOVES THIS! I become aware of the muscles in my right leg as I gently press the gas pedal. My ears feel relieved. I experience calm. The sound of my barely holding on car is not annoying, it reacts to my bodies movements. I feel very connected to what I am doing, driving my Nana’s old car.
My Mind: Once the radio is off, I become very aware of the thoughts rattling around in my brain. Typically, I just process the sounds I hear on the radio. If I hear something I like, my brain says “Yeah!” if I hear something I don’t like my brain says “What the….”
Now, it’s quiet. What should I think about? I have a thought about original thought “what is original thought anyway? do any of us truly form original thoughts?” I automatically make a plan to google “original thought” when I get to work. “wait!” my brain says “that’s not allowed this week!”
It’s uncomfortably silent in my mind and I can feel a slight panic set in. My brain scans “am I bored? am I scared? where are the magic radio sounds?”
My body on the other hand feels warm in its movements, my muscles are enjoying the silence which allows them to hear and feel the cars reaction to their gentle push. A trade off seems to have occurred. My body, typically tense and ignored feels satisfied in its work. It feels a lot like cuddling. My brain is confused. Used to its “GO GO GO SOUND SOUNDS SOUND MUSIC MUSIC MUSIC” it seems to find this silence unsettling, even threatening.
My Time: Time seems slower, in a good way! My lunch break, usually spent eating leftovers while I scan various news websites is now spent eating outside (on a bench, in a garden.) During my lunch break I ask Sam on a date without our usual dinner guest, The West Wing. I am nervous about the date (boyfriend of 6ish years, husband of 5 months, silly to be nervous, right?) I think my nervousness comes from my brain adjusting to the new silence; it taunts “what if it’s awkward without watching TV? will I be wondering about google news or mother jones the whole time?” Shut up brain, this is my husband and best friend…we will be just fine on our date, sans media.
Afternoon break is spent walking through the garden. I see a family of mule deer; a doe, two fawns, and a buck with full antlers. They walk in line, just like the family of geese that live in the garden. The mom in front, then the two babies in line behind her, and the dad following close behind. I feel lucky; I would have missed this family had I been hunched over my desk checking my email for the 100th time.
My week continues like this for the most part. About half way through, my brain finally relaxes! Ah, sweet relief. I enjoy the silence, I read books, I clean the dishes, I get stuff done! I play the piano to entertain us, I read the newspaper, I finally come up with a simple skin care routine (to share another time.) We find a recycling place we like and even better, a recycling routine that works! We eat really amazing home cooked meals, we play with the kitties, we enjoy sleeping together, we enjoy each other.
My body feels incredible! My skin is better than ever, I am waking up naturally and I even get to work on time. Best of all, I have no headaches! No eye strain! No body aches! I have always been a vivid dreamer, but now my dreams are so incredibly clear that they swim around in my mind for the rest of the day.
Slip ups are bound to occur. This actually helped me identify the pros and cons of electronic media in my life.
Pro: Find the number for the vet and learn a bit about the medication our lady cat is on.
Pro: Check the weather for Boston so I can pack for our upcoming trip.
Pro: Check email once or twice to solidify wedding weekend plans.
Pro and Con: Google the crap out of “Assad.” I scan a thousand news articles and Wikipedia pages. I feel very depressed when I’m done. While depressing, I do feel it is important to be informed. The problem I face when using the interweb is I find no satisfaction by reading one or two articles; I have to read ALL the articles. I desperately want to know the truth; I want to know what’s really going on. While more informed, I am also emotionally exhausted. (note to self: find news plan that maintains the benefits of being informed but doesn’t leave me so drained.)
While I don’t want to live media-free for life, I realize that life seems sweeter when I cut back. As my sister would say, it’s all about balance.
My mind while nervous at first has calmed and has learned to enjoy the silence. My body feels rested. My time is slower and of quality! How to maintain this wonderful feeling while adding back electronic media?
Back online, I have learned a great deal about myself. For example, I lack self-control. First night back from our Boston trip, I stayed up till 11pm youtube-ing any Elizabeth Warren video I could find, including a gem where she lays the smack down on the FED. While enjoyable and informative, it still physically feels bad and all that screen time made for a bad night’s sleep. So what to do? While I am grown woman (even though I will never feel like one) I am not above setting rules for myself. Here goes.
Morning: no media in the morning. My mornings have been far too sweet to bring back the mindless social media checking first thing in the AM. Mornings are for showers, stretching, breakfast eating, and coffee enjoying.
Work: at work, work. ONE break may be used to read the news, check email, find dinner recipes, and the like.
Evening and Night: may use the computer before dinner, but not after!
So that’s that. One week(ish) later, happier and headache free! Have you ever taken a media break? How long? How did it feel?