Continuing our series of reflections from CFM teachers, this week’s post is written by Margaret Fletcher, who lives in NH and (sometimes) enjoys a daily 90-minute commute to the Center for Mindfulness in Shrewsbury, Massachusetts.
It’s funny, how we say “I’m going on a diet.” Am I not always on a diet, of some kind? It may be a junk food diet, a meat and potatoes diet, a low carb diet, or a just-like-Grandma-made kind of diet. But when we hear that someone’s going on a diet, we know it really means that they’re bringing a renewed and intentional focus to what they’ll be eating, to effect some kind of change. Often, going on a diet is about eating the most nourishing food and leaving aside what doesn’t support the body in the best way.
Lately, I’ve put myself on a media diet. Over the past few months, I had begun to notice what my media outlets were feeding me. To be more honest, I started to see what I was feeding myself.
Here is my usual: I scan the local paper via iPad in the morning, and then generally listen to at least a half hour of radio news on my drive both to and from work. Arriving home later in the day, I’d usually spend a little time checking a news accumulator app (providing me with options in both written and video content) and possibly watch a comedy-based “news” show with my partner sometime before bed. Add to that a few weekly magazines that I browse through and sometimes dive deeply into, depending on the content, plus following any number of links sent along by well-meaning friends.
Wow. Just writing all of that down, right now, has left me feeling over-stuffed. Beyond the raw amount of media consumption, there is how these exposures leave me feeling post-media meal. Video-based media seemed to leave me feeling amped up, irritated and strangely looking for more. A news accumulator is an endless journey into everything and everyone, resulting in a foggy sense of having received a mound of empty media calories. Listening to news during both commute times is an exercise in incremental trivia and repetition. Why feed my system so much nauseating junk?
Now I’ve pared back to a half hour of radio news in the morning only, and a brief look at the headlines in the news accumulator at the end of the day. I still scan the paper in the morning. I’m being very selective about articles I read, choosing which ones will actually inform me about what I need to know and/or can do something about. Video is almost completely out. With these changes, there’s a lot more story-telling and silence during my drive time, courtesy of some well-selected podcasts and the off-button on my radio. I have time to ponder, and wonder. I see more during my drive. I take in what I do read and listen to more fully. I feel better nourished.
So, how’s your media diet?