Many of us who practice yoga do so with the aim of cleansing the body and soul through a regular practice. Often we support these practices with a healthy, Satvic diet- we are concerned about the cleanliness and health giving properties of what we put in out mouths in relation to our yoga lifestyle, and rightly so! Why put all of that effort in to a regular yoga practice to undo it with poor diet choices? Part of a yogic lifestyle includes conscientiousness and awareness about the quality of our diets- but what about our mental diets?
Do we pay enough attention to what gets in to our psyches and minds on a daily basis? Why don’t we scrutinize the morsels of information we consume the same way we do our food? What we ingest mentally has a major impact on our health. Perhaps it is time we started looking at consumption from a holistic standpoint not just in relation to food.
Most of us seem to spend a majority of our time online on Social Media sites. A positive aspect of Social Media is the fact that we can connect to each other all over the world in a way that we never could before, stay in touch with people we love and discover new things and people thousands of miles away in an instant. There are however some problems with a “poor digital diet” and having awareness of them may help us get healthier and avoid potential damage to our emotional and mental health.
Waking up your inner 5 year old
If you want to check how enlightened you are have a little browse around your facebook friends pages and see which emotions rear their ugly heads.
Jealousy? Envy? Shame? Anger? Bitterness? All very human and often inspiring emotions that can motivate us to improve, when based on real situations.The problem with peoples versions of their lives online (and our emotional responses to them) is that they are entirely one dimensional and usually marketed with all of the best bits and not much of the mundane which makes up their reality.
A friend recently told me that she unfollowed me on facebook because my life in paradise made her so depressed. Sure, living in Goa is pretty darn fabulous and yes I am extremely grateful for my life but alongside the sunsets are the 16 hour work days, the toilets that no one else will clean but me, the rubbish on the roads, the endless bureaucracy, the 2 hour wait for 10 photocopies, the constant power cuts…the list goes on. Do I Instagram the pictures of the toilets I have to clean? No. That’s reserved for the sunsets! Do I update my status “just saw the most amazing pile of garbage on the side of the road with rats feasting on it #feelingblessed!” no, I reserve that for when I see dolphins in the sea! I would probably unfollow me too…
Tip: Remind yourself that the version of peoples lives that you see online is not exactly the truth. Celebrate peoples happiness whilst remembering that life is never just one thing. People have ups & downs just like you do. Accept that nobody and nothing is perfect (including yourself for hoping it rains on your friends 3rd Caribbean holiday this year) and focus on your blessings.
Loss of connection
Would be a good thing- if it was our internet connection. We are overloaded with images, opinions, voices, trends, anger, nasty comments, unrealistic expectations and messages. From all of this information how much of it actually helps us to grow, to become better people? When do we actually connect with people and more importantly with ourselves anymore? Every spare moment we have seems to be filled with reaching outwards through smart phones and computers rather than looking inwards and getting healthier. Spending the day on the internet can leave us feeling exhausted and disconnected. We almost forget we have a body! Falling into the vortex can leave us drained and empty rather than refreshed and energized.
Tip: Commit to a specified time where you are connected to the internet daily and stick to it. If you use the internet for work, commit to not using it at all outside of work hours. Commit to being a little old school… do things that used to make you happy like walking in nature, reading a book, writing a letter to someone you love, listening to music, meditating. Whatever it is make sure it is real, that it is in the actual world rather than on a screen in front of you!
Other peoples Milestones weighing you down
It seems that everybody has the perfect job, family, car, relationship, marriage and baby making faculties. Feeling inadequate can happen to the strongest of people in real life, never mind being inundated with other peoples endless achievements and milestones online. A single colleague of mine in her 20’s told me she was considering IVF because every person and their cat had new babies in 2013 and they all posted pictures of them on facebook.
For people who may have been going through life at a perfectly normal pace the pressure builds, the internal clock starts ticking louder, the feeling that whole world except you is getting engaged, getting married, adopting a dog from a shelter, having babies, learning to crotchet- the whole lot!
Social media can make you feel left behind and left out. Remember you are unique and so is your journey. Comparing yourself to someone else won’t help you get where you are going any faster, in fact it will probably slow you down. As Oscar Wilde said “Be yourself, everyone else is taken”. You are an individual- there will never be another one of you, that is already your greatest achievement. Celebrate it!
Stop comparing yourself to the girl you went to high school with 15 years ago who you haven’t seen since and start working on your own goals based on your actual wants and desires. Celebrate the fact that you are single and have no baby vomit on the back of your jumper! Or celebrate the fact that you are happily married and never have to spend another Sunday alone. Whatever it is, wherever you are in life, be nice to yourself and start looking inwards instead of around. What we focus on grows, make sure it’s yourself rather than other people.
People behind their keyboards, alone in a room without their mothers minding their manners for them are often at their worst. A combination of no accountability, no eye contact with their target and no human to human contact often makes people forget their manners and ethics. Sometimes people go further and become downright nasty. I have seen people post things on social media that they would be mortified to say out loud. Arrogance is disguised “speaking my mind” bullying and unkindness is delivered without thought for the receiver and often people are left with a heart full of toxic energy from people they may not even know. When we look at someone and speak to them we smile, hold our bodies in a certain way, reach out to touch and connect. The same words typed that can cause so much injury may be received with a laugh and smile were you sitting across from each other. Be mindful that the humanness of our interactions are often lost.
Be Kind. Ask yourself if you would say what you want to type to a persons face. Remember that whatever you write is often your only reputation. When someone offends you with an offhand comment consider that something may have gotten lost in translation. Avoid internet arguments and if you get in to one ask yourself if you would call the person you are arguing with for serious advice. If not- then don’t pay too much heed to their opinion online either.
Know your friends
I have over 1000 “Friends” on facebook and about 7 in real life.True friendship grows, the seed of friendship is planted, watered, nourished with time and attention and it weathers many storms coming through reinforced and stronger. Real friendships are earned not gained at the click of a button. If we spend all day online with our friends what happens to our real relationships? Should we not spend time with those who actually know us, who know our vulnerabilities and our strengths, those who really know us? Before social media we needed to work for our friendships. We had privacy and boundaries, we let people in in fractions based on the trust they earned though us. With social media friendships have become as instant as our messages. How many of your “friends” would still contact you if you were offline? Those are your real friends. Value them.
Call your best friend for a chat. Catch up with someone you have not seen in a while. Spend time with someone you love. Make eye contact with someone who knows your history and communicates with you silently. Make a new friend in real life by starting a conversation with a real person.
What would happen if you switched off your phone and computer for 2 whole days or even 2 hours a week? Why not try it and post your feedback here I would love to know your thoughts and observations.
Love from India