By Jonathan Glass
A media cleanse is one of the most important practices to integrate into our lives from time to time. Ayurveda maintains that digestion is the most important factor in maintaining good health. We don’t often consider that digestion occurs on many levels: physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual; that is, we digest not just food but, also, the experiences and information that we take in through our fives senses, mind, and intellect.
Ayurveda says that the original cause of emotional imbalance is due to undigested experiences that imprinted on our emotional being. In Sanskrit, these emotional impressions are called “samskaras.” Trauma at any stage, especially before the age of five, can be painful to process or digest fully. Physically, these undigested experiences show up in our body as illness, lack of energy, organ imbalances, and pain. Mentally and emotionally, undigested traumas show up as depression, anxiety, negative emotional patterns, and addictions.
We are not able to digest an unlimited amount of food. Nor are we able to process an infinite amount of energy, sensory input, and information. While it is beneficial to avoid ingesting unhealthy foods, it’s also extremely beneficial to avoid unhealthy sensory, informational, and emotional input, and to limit the amount of input that we are exposed to.
Media is often a significant source of excessive input. It is not only stimulating but stressful (rajasic), mind-numbing, and depressing (tamasic). The Media Cleanse inspires us to mindfully eliminate our exposure to unhealthy “junk food” media as well as negative people in our lives. This gives our body, mind, and soul an opportunity to digest, process, regenerate.
Media cleansing relieves us from sensory and mental overwhelm. When we watch television, listen to the radio or news, read magazines or catalogs, engage in social media, browse the web, or play games on our phones, we have to process, assimilate, and eliminate a great deal. Often, we can’t. Either because the information is coming at us too quickly, in a high volume, in choppy bits on a phone screen, or because we are busy, not entirely focused or numb to the onslaught of negative input.
For example, when we watch the news day after day, we numb ourselves to the often extremely harmful content. Stories of murders, robberies, and rapes or politically charged issues, are told to us by attractive, calm, pleasant-faced reporters. Usually, the stories are followed by loud and obnoxiously upbeat commercials, creating a sense of cognitive dissonance. It’s as if we are being trained to go numb when we hear such news. Even if we do have an emotional response, the next story or advertising quickly comes along to distract us; there’s little time to digest.
Studies have shown that after less than one minute of television watching, the brain waves switch to a low alpha frequency. Low alpha is a relaxed and mildly hypnotic state. Relaxed is good, but too much low alpha can also cause one to be spaced out, easily influenced, and unfocused. Too much of this can negatively impact our relationships, personal drive, interest in life, and mood. This highly suggestible state, however, is ideal for advertisers. Much is also being learned in the field of social media as well, having even more potent negative impact than television.
During a media cleanse, eliminate media as much as possible. Strictly speaking, the media cleanse includes no radio, television, newspapers, magazines, catalogs, social media, or web browsing. Anything required for your job is, of course, okay. As for input that you do experience, make sure it is friendly to your mind, heart, and consciousness. When you listen to music, choose music that is calming and nurturing for the mind, spirit, and nervous system. If you read a book, pick one that is uplifting and serves to feed and nourish the mind, heart, and spirit.
Media cleansing decreases disturbance in the nervous system, thus reducing vata. It increases mental agni, or the power of mental perception, along with sattva, or mental balance. The media cleanse is wonderfully useful for nourishing the mind, senses, and nervous system as well as supporting freedom from cultural programming and mental indigestion.
Try a Media Cleanse for 3-7 days. You will be amazed at the sense of freedom, calm and inspiration that you’ll feel.