Mindfulness Over Media
With a 24-hour news cycle and near-constant bombardment by the devices at our fingertips and the ubiquitous presence of screens, remaining mindful about our media consumption can change our relationship with it. As engaged citizens, awareness of current events is important; becoming mindful consumers of media not only impacts personal well-being, but can help us become more effective in responding to information.
The first step in creating an empowered relationship with media is recognizing how the constant flow of information affects us. Mindfulness is the process of becoming aware of what is happening in our body and mind from moment to moment. It is not thinking about something in order to evaluate it; it’s investigating what is happening in real time. When awareness is cultivated in this way, we can evaluate our choices based on this internal information.
When browsing online or watching the news on television, check in with the intention in the moment—not the rationalization or philosophy about why this information may be important, but what is in the mind in that very moment: Is it boredom or looking for distraction? Are we receiving information passively, or engaging to understand a particular issue? Notice intentions without judgment; one is not necessarily better than another.
Bring attention to the body, mind and emotions: Assess sensations in the body such as areas of tightness or tension; and bring awareness to thoughts and emotions that are present. Notice the impacts of this body-mind experience and reflect upon how any resulting feelings might serve our relationships, well-being, sense of purpose or efficacy; consider whether the type and amount of information is necessary to respond appropriately.
When we stay mindful, we can determine if immersing ourselves in angry comments or endless clips of ranting politicians and pundits is actually necessary to understand an issue. We might decide to set a time limit on such exposure or stay focused on understanding something specific.
If we find ourselves clicking around out of boredom or to take a break, we might consider finding sources reporting meaningful information over those that focus on sensationalism or trivia, or bookmarking uplifting content (try: GoodNewsNetwork.org, DailyGood.org, PositiveNewsUS.org).
Mindfulness won’t take the discomfort out of the news; a lot of what’s happening around us is uncomfortable and mindfulness will actually make us more aware of that discomfort! But, mindfulness of discomfort in real time allows us to respond more appropriately, and sooner.
Instead of letting media manipulate our emotions, fomenting anger and despair, we can cultivate mindfulness and decide how media can serve us by consciously clicking. We have more information available to us today than ever before—becoming mindful in our relationship with that information protects our well-being while empowering us to live connected, engaged and meaningful lives.
Genevieve Tregor, MS, offers mindfulness trainings, workshops and retreats, including the official MBSR curriculum throughout the Valley. For more information, visit SolutionMindfulness.com.