Finding Yourself Amid the Weapons of Mass Distraction.
Social media feeds you a stream of information that begs to be clicked on, and gives your brain a buzz.
That buzz is addicting, and gives the steady stream of information a seeming allure and urgency. This can occupy your mind the whole day if you let it. A whole week. A whole lifetime.
All this information-bartering makes the mind outward-pointed, outward-bound. You lose touch with the inner wellspring of boundless creativity. As Eckhart Tolle says, “When you lose touch with inner stillness, you lose touch with yourself. When you lose touch with yourself, you lose yourself in the world.”
Creativity requires space and stillness. Inspiration often arises out of the nourishment of giving ourselves time to ponder, reflect, integrate, and be. Regular social media engagement keeps one tied to an unreal world that exists only in the head, and feeds one recycled secondhand thoughts about it.
Fresh clean original thought has the best chance of arising from our engagement with the real world in the here and now with an open mind and open heart. Addiction to screen information blunts this capacity of opening to the inner being.
Mary Oliver is on point: “Creative work needs solitude. It needs concentration, without interruptions. It needs the whole sky to fly in, and no eye watching until it comes to that certainty which it aspires to, but does not necessarily have at once.”
Our human condition is one of too much information and not enough transformation. A veritable disease of information. This garbage chokes and prevents the clear waters of inspiration and fresh perception from flowing unhindered. The mind can even weave a need around interactions on social media that can take over the inner sky with emotion and hunger for validation.
The hungry ghost is always looking to be fed the instant the mind turns outward.
This is true even when information you seek on social media is purely inspirational or motivational in nature.
A user on Instagram had this insightful observation to make: “Motivational quotations often give people a confidence boost, a hit of self-assurance, and momentary dose of ‘Yes, I can’. The problem is, it’s an easy hit — like a drug, you get a high for a few milliseconds, then it subsides when you move on to scanning the pages of those who you feel inferior to. The opportunity is to quit seeking the drug (motivational quotation) and switch it for something more sustainable albeit harder — curiosity and a desire to think for yourself and come up with your own truths. Motivational quotations require no thinking on behalf of the reader, they are passive hits of dopamine. Questions and curiosity, instead, require a willingness to ‘stay there’ when tough stuff comes up, be with uncertainty, and think for yourself. It takes effort, but the benefits are tenfold. When we are able to ask ourselves the right questions and develop the habit of remaining curious, we can create the kind of change and lives that no motivational quotation can deliver.”
I notice I can heal dependency when I spend more time in nature, get off social media and phone-checking in general, use any pocket of empty time to sit with the breath, write in a journal, create and express instead of being content tasting others’ words and ideas all the time, read books, take action in following through on intuitive nudges, make time for mindful movement like a Yoga session, and other enlivening things. In short, when I’m living from the inside out versus focusing on getting from the outside in.
As with any tool, the good side of social media exists too, of course. You can find like-minded individuals and your soul tribe there much easier than you can out in the world. The originality and perspectives of the brilliant bunch of people I follow have contributed significantly to the deepening and expansion of my awareness of life in all its shades and vibrancy.
However, the Tao of balance needs to operate here so that media retains its rightful place as the dessert that enriches rather than as the main meal that sustains.
The internet is a microcosm of life, and has therefore just as much potential to inspire, illuminate and broaden our consciousness, but its instant availability at our fingertips also makes it an easy avenue for the lack of balance and discernment to run riot.
We are such a mix of elements that we need a few decades of living to even start getting a handle on the forces that move us.
We are a mixture of the true and false, the essence of pure being as well as a false sense of separation from life. This sense of separation, generally referred to as ego, is characterized by a constant sense of wanting and needing, a gaping hole of not-enoughness.
If there is not enough awareness of how this dynamic works within us, it can consume an entire lifetime in its intense need for outside validation — for social approval, for a relationship, job, or place, or needing certain things to be a certain way.
It imagines fulfillment lies in attaining these things, but these things, even if they should come to pass, would only disappear into the void of endless craving, and other things would take their place.
The name of the ego’s game is consumption. The material world is set up in such a way that it’s easy to constantly find things to consume — food, entertainment, social media, information, places, people, things, experiences. There’s a driving need to find oneself in these things, but the more we consume, the more we lose ourselves in dependency.
The only way to find yourself is to be yourself, because you never lost it in the first place. It was always there as your very being, just waiting only to be expressed. Expression means creation. Creation is active and the opposite of consumption, which is passive.
Create in words, colors, ideas, actions, movement, any form of expression that comes from the heart, because the heart is a portal into the essence of one’s being. Creation is the flow of the love that you are.
Ultimately, you are the one you have been waiting for.
To break out of the endless sense of lack and longing that living in ego always entails, one needs to create. To reclaim self and allow that inner greyhound to follow its nose and forge on into groundbreaking new territory with its lean grace of self-guided focus.
In order to express oneself authentically, one needs to lose the emotions attached around the ego — unworthiness, self-doubt, worry about being judged or misunderstood. All these things can only affect the false sense of self — the mind-created image that a sense of separation imagines as itself. There is no such self, there is only life, and you are that. You are a piece of life, a unique fractal of God.
You begin to live as that when you let the clear stream of your individuality flow unfettered into the world in whatever way it chooses. And its joy is in the flowing.
This is our primary responsibility. To our self in being our self. In a way, creating our self into being. When we do that, we are fulfilled, we are fed from within, and will no longer seek to find our self in people and things outside of us. We can then be in the right relationship with life.
In the poignant lines of Jeff Foster,
You are worthy.
You are large.
You are a beast of the wild, a supernova.
Your heart beats as one with all the other hearts.
Connected, and longing to connect.
So you cannot be lonely, when you are in yourself.
And your aloneness is majestic.
And your longing is miraculous.
Let your dreams of love burn; feel the fire.
You only ever wanted
to fall in love
with your own heart.
Mangala Ramprakash is whatever the moment calls her to be — a writer when she writes, a cook when she cooks, a teacher when she teaches, a photographer when she makes images. Fluid, dynamic, shape-shifting, and anchored in the I Am, she lives and learns with her zen masters who happen to be her two boys, and blogs occasionally at Keeping Tryst.