re/VIEW: Tara Brach
“Both psychological work and what we call spiritual work are seeking ways to deal with ...
Throughout the 45 days of this experiment, I experienced a complex mix of emotions. On one hand, I felt more connected to myself and more self-assured than ever before. On the other hand, I was absolutely exhausted and overwhelmed by the challenges of everyday life.
This exhaustion felt different—it was not a sense of drained energy from giving or from sitting idle in front of a massive piece of technology that virtually pulls all my energy into different directions. This exhaustion came from within. Giving up television forced me to confront the reality of my existence without any distractions, which was both difficult and liberating. Despite the challenges, I have become increasingly comfortable in my skin and confident in the path I have chosen for myself.
On February 1st, I stopped watching television. I also abandoned social media on February 22nd. Almost immediately after commencing this detox, I became aware of the misalignments that were not necessarily obvious in my life with all the distractions this world has to offer. Here is what I learned.
During this 45-day challenge, I often found myself wondering and realizing, “What am I going to watch tonight? Oh, yeah… I’m not watching TV.” It was a painstaking 25-plus days before that was unlearned. Watching TV was my go-to activity when I wanted to avoid feeling or thinking about a part of the reality I am living. For example, if I was going in mental loops about a meeting that happened, I’d wonder what I would watch later, and then immediately realize I needed to deal with how that meeting made me feel to work through it.
It seems like the common perception of unwinding involves watching television, but I have found that unwinding is not about masking my day with comedy or drama on TV. During this 45-day challenge, I took my self care game to a whole other level. Forget about face masks and foot soaks: I focused on nurturing the parts of myself that were self-loathing and unkind through breathwork, ceremonies, and journaling, and by thinking on purpose instead of on autopilot.
I became softer by showing self-compassion. I was able to extend compassion to others and finally had the patience I always prayed for. Who knew? By loving me, I could love others more deeply, and by having self compassion, I could be a lot more patient. It's amazing what a little self-love can do!
Right from the first week, I noticed a significant drop in my weight as I shed four pounds. Surprisingly, the only alteration I made was abstaining from watching TV. I didn't feel the urge to nibble or consume large portions during the day and, more importantly, at night, when I usually sat in front of the screen. This realization inspired me to delve deeper into my eating patterns and consider incorporating adaptogens while eliminating dairy and reducing my food intake.
I have been so conditioned to think about my next move, the next day, what’s on my to-do list, making television a by-product of escaping my anxiety. I have not been present since I was a child — no one ever taught me how to be present. It was extremely difficult to acknowledge what I felt and the reality of the life I am living. Television, and social media for that matter, is a mask I wore in private to assist in repressing my experiences.
I spent years being confused about what I really wanted, by listening to those around me, comparing myself to others, and, quite frankly, by the influence of the media—not just television but social media, billboards, magazines, influencers, and more. Removing just a fraction of these distractions allowed me to connect to my inner self. I was truly able to create a shift, allowing me to hear my soul's wisdom: something I teach to empower others to find their calling.
If you live in society and have a 9-5 and want to stay connected with the world, it is virtually impossible to completely abandon social media. But it is possible to stop mindlessly scrolling. During the 45-day challenge, certain activities required me to go on social media, but I no longer found myself endlessly asphyxiated on the social feed.
I was taking two spiritual courses that required social media logins and participation in Facebook groups. Because of my decision to eliminate social media, I was able to exercise control of my attention. This empowered me to consider what things are worth going back onto social media for. I ultimately decided that I was not going to go onto Facebook and instead decided to only do the video portions of the courses.
I challenged myself this winter to end the season by eliminating distractions, going inward, and truly doing the shadow work so many of us talk about. I continue to see the results of this experiment through my work when I hold space for others, and through my ability to stay grounded and be compassionate. Television no longer has a hold on my schedule. I get to choose daily how I spend my time instead of falling into the various distractions of modern life. There is a real sense of liberation in getting to choose what I do with my time.
I challenge all of you to eliminate one thing in your environment that is distracting, whether it’s television, clutter, social media, books, or music for at least five days, and feel the difference it makes in your life. I hope this inspires you to acknowledge distractions you can cut ties with to find a piece of yourself. Visit my website to connect.
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