Confession time. I’m addicted to refreshing my twitter feed. And the result is I’m on media overload, a spiritual condition many find themselves in these days.
Media overload is when your eyes glaze over because you’ve been reading or watching too much news. It’s when you can’t stand to be away from your smartphone in case something new happened in the last five minutes. I felt it after 9/11, during the 2008 and 2016 presidential elections and I feel it now with continuous tidbits of news about Russians tampering with our election, our Commander in Chief mouthing off, and reports of how many people will be hurt if Congress eviscerates the Affordable Care Act.
I’d like to go back to a time when I just tuned in to the national TV news once a day, after work, or even to the days when I read a newspaper first thing in the morning and actually waited a day to find out what happened in the world.
Media overload distracts us from our life’s true purpose. It can trick us into believing there’s no hope in the world. It dulls our spirit. Don’t put your head in the sand and pretend we’re not in the situation we are in. But there has to be time away from media. (Note: I’m saying this to myself first!)
Here are five ways to realign our spirits:
- Stop and breathe. Remember that nothing earth-shattering ever goes by unnoticed. No one failed to hear about 9/11 just because they had their TV off when it happened. The news will be there when you return to it.
- Go outside. Enjoy fresh air and the freedom that comes from not having four walls around you. Walking, running or just sitting on the earth are grounding activities that bring your attention to your body so that your mind can settle down. Yoga and time at the gym is also helpful although my gym keeps CNN on all the time which tends to distract me.
- Pray, meditate, or otherwise connect with God. Whatever works best for you. I’ve been saying a new mantra lately: God is love. We can trust God. I’m praying for the day when justice “rolls down like water” and our nation calms down considerably.
- Fast from all media. A break can be refreshing—start with 3-5 hours. If you can manage a whole day or weekend, even better. As mentioned earlier, the news will still be there. Hopefully after the fast, your head will be clearer and your attitude more positive. If the idea of fasting from all media distresses you, allow yourself to read some fiction. (Preferably not political thrillers!)
- Produce an action plan. Spend time discerning what you will do when you are on overload. Will you fast? If so, for how long and from what? Will you find a way to work for political change? What would that look like for you? Stewing over situations only hurts the one stewing. Action helps us feel like we are doing our part to bring about peace and justice in the world.
Of course, I also hope you are talking with your spiritual director or close spiritual friends about the distractions that take focus away from your spiritual path. I have spent hours talking about this with my spiritual director and you know the action plan he suggested for me? Write about it! (So, here’s to you kind sir.)
Want to try spiritual direction? I have openings in my schedule for new directees—regardless of where you live. I can work by phone, Skype or if you live in the Phoenix metro area we can meet in person. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.teresablythe.net. Also visit my website for the Phoenix Center for Spiritual Direction.
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