Video Fasting – Eight Days of No TV
Do you ever feel like it’s time to do a fast or cleanse or just eat healthy for a week to give your body a break form too much junk food or sweets?
I began to feel that way a little over a week ago but I realized it wasn’t just food I was needing a fast from.
It was TV. Movies, TV shows, news, commercials, streaming video. To me, those things were beginning to feel like mind clutter and I just needed a break.
I had been given the message more than once. Turn off the TV. But until this time, I had not listened.
TV was how I relaxed. It was really the only way I knew how. It was the only time where I could shut off my mind.
Giving up TV would be tough but I knew I needed to do it.
“Turn off the TV.
This is important.”
This time, I heard the message loud and clear and I felt the need to comply.
I kind of had the same feeling as getting pulled over for speeding.
I had heard a similar message before and following those instructions had changed my life.
I knew I needed to listen but it wasn’t going to be easy.
I decided to start the next day which was Monday, December 14th and I would continue through Monday, December 21st, 2020. One week. I could do anything or one week right?
It was like a mini-Lent.
I knew this would change me but I didn’t know how exactly.
What would I DO if I couldn’t watch TV? Audio books were also off limits, as well as streaming video (my favorite).
What was allowed? Anything Ava (5 years old) wanted to watch. That just left cartoons and kid drama shows which I try to avoid anyway.
So how did it go?
Day 1 – The hardest thing was fighting the urge to turn the TV on while I was doing another task, for example, when I was in the kitchen or eating.
I also found that I started to read to Ava, A LOT. Especially at bed time.
I read her a few of her short stories first. If she still wasn’t asleep, she would be by the time I read a few pages of my book! (The Fulfillment of All Desire by Ralph Martin)
Here is how it went….
I found that I was meditating more often, before bed or even just during the day.
I definitely needed the practice. Instead of being a chore, meditation became something I looked forward to.
It was like a playground for the mind. I began to look forward to whatever cool new stories, ideas, or images I would see next.
Whenever I had the urge to turn on the TV, I would write instead. I wrote about how I was feeling, how I wanted to feel, the things I needed to get done, hopes and dreams, and just thoughts in general.
I’ve found that my brain isn’t great at sorting information on its own and sometimes, writing down my thoughts is the only way I can “think”.
I feel like it was easier for me to think, have thoughts, and organize those thoughts during the TV fast. I’m sure the increased writing time helped with this but, I don’t attribute the change fully to writing alone.
I felt less stressed. I felt more aware. I was able to maintain calm in difficult situations (although that is debatable – ask Ava for an alternate point of view).
All of this contributed to increasing my ability to recognize the things that truly matter and ignore the things that don’t.
The true challenge came the day I was all alone. Ava wasn’t there to be my shining little entertainer.
She wasn’t there to tell me funny jokes or stories, to play chase or tickle monster, to dance for me, or to read with me.
I was all alone with my self and my mind.
I thought it would be difficult but it’s wasn’t as bad as I had imagined. I found things to do. I worked, I wrote, I meditated, I read, and I enjoyed the time with just my self.
And when Ava returned, she brought her joy, and her light shone brighter than ever.
Has it increased my peace? YES!
After doing this cleanse, I feel more myself. I choose to keep the TV off most of the time. I now recognize how it is impacting me. The difference is subtle.
When I do watch something, I don’t get carried away by what I’m viewing. I’m able to detect the mood of what I’m watching and how that is impacting my own mood. If it’s not to my benefit, I turn it off. I’m ok with being in silence and I enjoy it more now than I did before.
My thinking is clearer when the TV is off. Multi-tasking isn’t as easy as it used to be and having the TV on in the background makes it much harder to complete most tasks.
I’m sure that, like most things, this new habit will need to be reinforced. I think it is a great idea to do this cleanse 2-3 times a year and I’m kind of looking forward to adding that to my goals for this year!
P E R S P E C T I V E
What I enjoyed most about my week with no TV is not feeling the need to have the TV on (or something else) all the time. There are so many things in our lives that are on autopilot. That includes behaviors, preferences, and influences. We don’t think about how they are truly affecting us.
All of the little environmental triggers are there and we don’t even realize it. They influence us unconsciously and dictate our behavior. Even worse, we think we are in control. We think we are choosing.
Sometimes taking a step back brings things into perspective. And stepping back may require fasting or a cleanse of some sort. Even if it is only for a short time it can still make a lasting impact.
If you are in the cleaning and clearing out mood, start with your mind. Turn off the TV and give your mind a much needed rest. Like a child, it may protest at first, but in the end you are doing what is best.
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