Our beloved friend, Nayaswami Maria, requested I blog about how I apply yoga teachings in the world as a householder and doctor living outside of Ananda Village. She said, “Those who read Ananda’s blogs have an abundance of information about living in spiritual community. Many people want to know how these teachings help folks in the ‘real world.’” Thus, this blog is dedicated to Maria.
Not long ago, an enthusiastic and gregarious patient related, “ever since I saw you two months ago, I’ve been quite depressed.” I inquired about what she had been doing in that time, and she replied, “I joined a book club and we read a book every few weeks and talk about it. I’ve also been seeing a lot of movies.”
“Please tell me about the books you’ve been reading and movies you’ve been watching.”
“Well the books are all current bestsellers that are being recommended in the book group. I thought it would help me stay current and engaged with other people to read and discuss books we’re reading together. I’ve also been watching art and foreign films at the progressive movie houses.”
“Have any books or movies been depressing?”
“Yes, come to think of it they’ve all been depressing. Recently, every single movie I’ve seen and book I’ve read has been depressing. I can’t think of one that was inspiring or happy.”
“I wonder if this is a factor in the depression you are experiencing. I’ve found for myself, that I need to ‘protect my consciousness’ so to speak when selecting entertainment, reading materials and other influences in my life.”
“Now that I think about it, I believe this has been the cause of my depression! Of course I’m going to feel low and down when I read depressing novels and watch sad movies! Thanks for that insight. From now on I’m going to read positive and inspiring books and see movies that make me feel good or have a positive message.”
Do you relate to this patient? Does she seem like anyone you might know? It’s amazing how often we allow ourselves to be negatively influenced and even traumatized by news, music, novels, movies and TV programs blasting at us each day. Imagine living even 100 years ago, when such influences weren’t so prevalent. There was no television, internet, or movies to barrage us with their messages of suspense, fear, despair, murder, deception and sadness.
I had the opportunity to visit a family member recently who left the television on all day to get the current news and stock market updates. I’ve limited my exposure to television so much in the last decades that it was shocking to hear the announcers and news people continuously yell at the audience! I surmise they believe you simply can’t speak in a normal tone of voice and get your point across!
It is very liberating to realize we have a choice about the media and influences we allow in our home, automobiles, relationships, reading material and entertainment. It might be freeing to “take a fast” for several weeks from the influences that make you feel anxious and depressed. Then decide which of those influences you want back in your life – if any! Naturally life happens and there are events that affect how we feel. In general we get to choose which influences we want to have as our “personal companions.” I choose to select harmonious and uplifting “companions” whenever possible.
You can also extend this line of thinking to which thoughts you choose to entertain on an ongoing basis. Why not choose those that are harmonious, peaceful, calming, and uplifting to you?
Right on, Kristy, thanks!
You are right kristy.Media has tremendous impact on our life.I feel we should use them for our benefit rather than leting them influencing our mind.Like i read newspaper for health related articles or to know about medicines or alternative therephy etc,i watch decent comedy shows on television for half an hour ,i listen to devotional songs in music and there are some romantic songs where i visualise i am singing for GOD and GURU so it becomes devotional but best thing is using most of such time when i am free i do meditation.I choose GOD and GURU as my companions.Like often fasting is good for our body often detachment from media is good for our mind and body both.I feel one should increase the frequency of seclusion and surrender to GOD he knows what we need to know and what not.
Thank you for the food for thought Kristy. I’ve decided to rid myself of all the political twitter feeds and websites that I read. They really get me aggravated and after reading your article it cemented the deal for me. I’ve been half-heartedly tossing the idea around but this gave me the push I needed to go ahead and actually take that step!
I could not agree with you more about the negative influence of TV Kristy. I just came back from visiting my parents in Florida and the TV was on every night. Since at home I do not subscribe to any television signals, just having to listen to the blaring words coming out of the TV was extremely disturbing. I could not wait to leave and return to my quiet and peace.
Kristy – thanks so much for your blog. I can’t tell you how timely it was as I was feeling quite blue. I thought about why I was feeling this way (for a few days no less) and realized I was allowing negativity from the office interfere with all aspects of my life. NO MORE!!!!.
Again, thank you.
Great thoughts, well written and worth sharing! I have the same feeling when I visit family and they have their TV’s and radios on for background noise. And, althouth I watch some TV I tend to watch something funny because it feels so good to laugh. Times when I’m watching TV with my family I mute the commercials — they are particularly loud an disruptive but mostly it allows for a few minutes of conversation instead of everyone just zoning out. My family moaned about it in the beginning and now they’re used to it and actually can be quite chatty — our own little non-commercial break :-)
I fully agree Kristy! When I see so many negative influences bombarding our world I often relate them to “junk food.” We know that healthy, nutritious, and clean vibrational foods heal us and keep us living an optimal life so why would we choose to put such non-nutritious foods into our sights, sounds, and souls?
This is quite true. The kind of influence of whatever kind we choose to expose ourselves to, seems to affect not only our mood & behaviour for the day but, I believe, our long term disposition too. One of my colleagues tells me that when he listens to peppy songs on the radio while commuting, he starts feeling energetic.
As for myself, I’ve severely restricted my exposure to TV (not the least because my pre-teen son & my wife have monopolised the two TVs at our home, but all for the best I guess!). TV in India, currently, is seen my many to be the purveyor of a load of negativity, whether in the form of news or soaps. Last evening, while watching CNN & BBC after a long time, I suddenly realised an emerging trend of natural disasters all through the world, from US to Africa to Japan to Australia, with nary an uplifting news to act as a counterpoint.
I love reading, and I find that reading noble literature puts me in a good frame of mind. I’m currently reading Experiments with Truth, the autobiography of Mahatma Gandhi, and each lesson which lay Gandhi’s own thoughts as well as foibles brutally clear, spurs me on to aim higher like he did. Likewise when I read ‘Autobiography of a Yogi’ or ‘Whispers from Eternity’ (mostly online, these day), it calms my mind and put noble thoughts in it.
So I agree that as God granted us free choice, we should exercise that power of choice in favour of positive things rather than negative.
Thanks for this wonderful reminder, Kristy. We all need to protect ourselves from the darker influences around us, while choosing more uplifting outlets.
Kristy, How true. I have personally seen how even music that is sad and morose can bring down a person’s energy, make them depressed, feel useless and worthless, unloved and appreciated and rob them of their joy. Truly what you wash your mind with can make you carry out the things you would not normally do. It is so very important to watch what you put into your mind!
I appreciated this blog about protecting the consciousness. I too have discontinued cable and prefer reading non fiction most of the time.
I am a Psychologist and nurse who works with mom, dads whose child could die. I have worked in palliative care for the past twenty years and find this work to be nourishing and not depressing rather a joy to acknowledge the dignity at the end of life of a child while I extend what solace I can to parents.
I need to take time away from work for renewal and until reading your blog I was thinking that maybe i was experiencing burn out but possibly not. These times away from my work offers some respite for the mind, body and spirit. Nancy
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