Perhaps you have heard or read about the benefits of going on a juice or water fast. People go on fasts from food for various reasons, some for physical health and some for spiritual reasons.
One idea about fasting is that it gives the body a rest from the relentless process of digestion, freeing the body to cleanse itself more thoroughly. Some people report more mental clarity and peacefulness after a fast from food.
Consider the ongoing effects of news and media on your mental and physical health and the possible benefits from a news/media fast. If you listen to, or watch the news on any station – radio, cable, public broadcasting – it is guaranteed that within the first several minutes of listening, you will hear a story of violence. It’s the same in the newspapers. It could be a story about war, or murder. Maybe it’s about rape or armed robbery. On the lighter side, you may hear of a fatal car accident.
Over and over again, these are the main stories we hear on the news. Just the other day, we had the radio on for a few minutes in the kitchen, in an attempt to hear the local weather report. We were assailed with a story about a violent crime that happened in a state far away from north central Washington. At the time, I asked myself, what benefit is accruing to me from listening to this story? Is there a message of safety? No. Is there inspiration? No. Is there something useful here that I can apply in my life today? No.
Every once in a while, there are stories of inspiration and hope, but they are few and far between. As an exercise in mindfulness, check your mental attitude, as well as your body feelings after “ingesting” a violent story. Do the same after you “ingest” a positive, happy story.
Violence is mentally and physically upsetting. Those of us on a constant diet of news/media have no rest from these violent stories. Just like the insidious effects of junk food, a steady diet of violent stories affects our mental and physical health by creating an artificial reality of anxiety, fear, anger, hatred, and sadness.
Most of us have heard that advertising companies use this artificial reality to their advantage – after hearing terrible news, the advertisements are a relief, and we are subconsciously attracted to their message.
Going on a news/media fast is a way of “waking up” from artificial reality created by the mass media interests, and looking around your immediate environment to see what’s really going on in your world. Right now, I’m sitting in my living room in north central Washington on a beautiful sunny day in October. The ash tree is dropping golden leaves in the back yard and my cats are lying in the sun on the front porch. I have some time today to can some ripe heirloom tomatoes. My mind is free from mass media input today and peacefulness surrounds me. This is what is actually happening.
Don’t worry about “missing” something – if something very important happens, you will hear about it. With the internet so available, we can be more selective about the type and amount of news we ingest.
Consider going on a news/media fast. “Tune in” to your immediate environment – your home, the outdoors, your family, friend, and neighbors. An incredible variety of rich, positive experience awaits you!
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