Staying on a healthy diet can be difficult in today’s world. Advertisements for fast food and candy are everywhere, and store shelves are packed with tempting treats. Unsurprisingly, lots of people struggle with weight gain and diet-related illnesses as a result.
Have you ever considered, though, that an analogous situation exists with information? Information is like food for our brain, and we are living in the Information Age, so there is plenty of informational junk food for us to consume. On top of that, there is an overabundance of information available, causing our already busy minds to become even more crammed with stuff.
Why You Need and Information Fast
When you walk down a busy city street, you can avoid the food trucks and burger joints, if you have the will to do so. But ignoring informational junk food is practically impossible. You will be surrounded by billboards and advertisements, along with the constant noise of radios blaring, people shouting, and cars rushing by. And, of course, your cell phone will ring, or you will feel compelled to Google something. There is no realistic way to keep all of this from flowing into your brain, and it will affect you, at least subconsciously, adding to your stress level and to your perceptions of the world.
An information fast is a deliberate attempt to remove yourself from the constant barrage of information in our society. Doing so allows you a chance to reconnect to your True Self, free from the constant chatter of the inner and outer worlds. Like a dietary fast, it is a chance to cleanse, heal, and rejuvenate.
How to Begin
Just as with a dietary fast, you should begin with baby steps and then work up to something bigger. You could decide, “I’m going to take a week-long information fast!” But, that is not realistic for beginners. Yes, you could remove yourself from outside information by renting a cabin deep in the woods, but more than likely your inner chatter will continue going a mile a minute, and you will feel very anxious and uncomfortable. Most of us are information junkies and going cold turkey just doesn’t work.Instead, begin with simple meditation practice for a few minutes a day. A genuine meditation practice will allow you develop the ability to watch and quiet your own mind first. Then, once you have developed this ability, you can remove yourself from outside information sources: turn off the TV, radio, cell phone, computer, and all the rest. Even print material, like books and newspapers, should be set aside. Schedule a time that you can do this without distractions and visitors, perhaps on a weekend morning or late at night.
As you proceed through your information fast, continue to watch your mind and return yourself to stillness as needed. I recommend some light activity of some sort that does not require much thought, such as cleaning a floor by hand, folding clothes, or washing dishes. Cleaning, in this way, becomes a reminder of your need to clean your own mind, scrubbing it free of preconceptions and negative thinking. Cleaning activities that require too much analysis and judgement, such as reorganizing a closet, should be avoided. The action here should be meditative and relaxing, something that keeps your hands busy so that your mind can center itself.
Why We Need Information Fasts
I really believe that information fasts are needed in this world. As we’ve moved further into the Information Age, our societies have become increasingly divisive and polarized based on information and the beliefs we develop from that information. And, we seem to be connecting to the Internet in favor of connecting to each other. Even worse, we are not connecting with our inner selves. An information fast is a true vacation, a chance for people to stop, breathe, and to rediscover who they really are inside.