Published January 5th, 2018
Happy New Year!
I do hope 2018 has started on a good note. From my side, I rang in the new year from my home in Miami this year, with dear friends and loved ones. After a year filled with traveling, heavy workloads, and general cacophony in the global and national arenas, I needed to sit, digest, and be still. Even with a daily meditation practice, I needed more; more time to let the dust settle, to process what needed to be processed, and to let everything else go. Over the years, I've come to believe how important clearing the past is, even more than making goals for the future. When you clear the landscape of what is left after the harvest, you open the field for infinite possibilities.
I'm doing an Ayurvedic cleanse this week. The same one I do 2-3 times per year. When I looked at a piece of Brie (usually my favorite) on New Year's Day, and couldn't even imagine eating any of it, I knew it was time. I couldn't drink one more drop of Prosecco. When you lose appreciation after so much abundance, you know it is time to take a break, fast, or simply abstain from certain things so you can build up that want, and have appreciation again.
It's not just food and alcohol that can do this to you: fill you up to the brink, when you can't be clear on what you want or need anymore. Communication can do this too - your emails, your social media feeds, even the news you listen to. During this week of cleansing, I'm clearing out 1000's of email messages that can be deleted. It is a lot of work to scan through old messages, essentially re-living certain projects, conversations, and even emotions. But if you switch your mind so you are viewing them with present-moment lenses, you just know what is worth keeping and what can be deleted. It feels so good, moving on :)
Now, when it comes to social media feeds and the news - the entire media arena - that has become so pervasive, it can be a little trickier. In my last blog How to Be in this World but not Of it I spoke a bit about this reality we are all living in these days. I know it ain't easy. In fact, by mid-November, I was so full-up with information, stories, and the emotions attached to these that I almost went numb to it all. If I heard about one more mass shooting, I knew I would think it was terrible and sad, but I wouldn't really feel it...and that made me sad. It was as if I had eaten too much and I felt a bit nauseous, but I didn't have time to digest. Fortunately, I left for Tanzania and was pulled away from the constant bombardment of news from the States. Sure, we have Internet there, but people are not yet tethered to their devices. And they would look at me strangely if I were to look at my phone too much. Aaah, it was so pleasant, to spend time being detached from the cacophony. So pleasant, that I am working hard to maintain this state of being even while back in the States. Here are a few secrets on how to do this...it's all about awareness and replacement:
- Create rituals around when you ingest media, like meal-times. Only consume news at a specific time of day, and when you feel full, stop.
- If the information you are receiving makes you feel anger, fear or some other negative emotion, acknowledge that feeling, consider what you can do about it, if anything, and then find a way to do something positive to counteract the feeling, like turning on pleasant music, being with a loved one, or reading a nice book.
- Become aware as you are looking at your social media feeds of when you are no longer receiving joy. Why are you still looking? Are you bored? Dying to know what someone is up to? It is nice to check in as we know, now and then, but we also know how easy it is to fall down a rabbit hole. When you catch yourself starting to get upset, ask yourself "is this really necessary right now?" What else can I be doing? Replace some moments of social media scanning with some other activity you enjoy, on your device if that easiest: open a book in your reader app, learn a new language with Rosetta Stone app or the like, browse recipes in a cookbook app, whatever floats your boat and takes you into a more peaceful place and out from the cacophony. If you can un-tether yourself from your device, even better. Tend to your garden, go for a walk, cook a nice meal. We all need time to digest what we ingest, give yourself a break.
Think of all this like a spiritual TUMS for your soul. Helps to neutralize the acid that keeps coming at us. Here's to a sweet and melodious start to the new year. Have a good one my friends.