TV or Not TV?
~by Ruth West
Like Sands Through the Hourglass – so are the Days Of Our Lives – The Kardashians – Law and Order – American Idol, You Tube (yes, it counts), The Daily News – The Nightly News – The Lunch-Time News – yes, TV can be an addiction, as we have all heard. But I was struck by the unusual angle of Valerie Vimalasara Mason-John, a Buddhist Recovery and Trauma Counselor, (who uses Mindfulness to help others recover from addictions). She stated that TV, and the Newscasts in particular, are an addiction - with artificial rewards.
TV (and the News) can be a great distraction, a comfort, a friend during quarantine days and nights, a way of keeping up and staying in touch with the world. But here is a little something to consider. It isn’t always good for our bodies. When we hear fabulous news, or watch a good love-story, we release feel-good endorphins. When we listen to dramatic stories of doom-and-gloom from newscasters, we start to panic and produce extra adrenaline. This gives us a rush, but it also causes our heightened Anxiety levels to over-produce. Some shows, reality or not, shoot our blood-pressure through the roof. The Energy waves from some of these programs, actually interrupt our sleep patterns, through their vibrations. Then, we watch commercials, that activate emotional and psychological responses so deep, that we barely know they exist. Some of them even elicit fear and the Survival Responses within our bodies. What intrigued me was Mason-John’s theory that the News, and other media programming, are controlling our hormones artificially, by manipulating the chemicals in our bodies. Your BODY reacts as if everything from the screen is Reality TV. Suddenly we are in the Fight/Flight/Freeze mode – not because there is a Saber Tooth Tiger in the room, but because we saw some images on a little box in front of us – real or not. Dr. Valerie targeted the News specifically, because too much of it is opinionated and inflammatory – and can flood the body with harmful elements and compounds that are difficult to neutralize. The contents of this little telly can create a host of physical ailments.
Now, I am not suggesting that you “throw the baby out with the bathwater” - but do try to limit your viewing hours and be selective about the content. (Also, turn your electronics off at least a half hour before bedtime to get your body ready for sleep.) There are so many more activities to fill our precious moments during this Pandemic than sitting for hours in front of the Tube. Go hug your favorite tree – this can lower your blood pressure. Take out your paper and pencil and draw that vase in front of you – no, it doesn’t have to look like a vase – but it will produce those endorphins that make you feel better. Stand up and stretch – better for breathing. Or, you can meditate, for as Caroline Shola Arewa, a Mindful Meditation teacher, remarked, “Meditation is just taking a moment for SELF.” Instead of winding yourself up vicariously in other people’s stories and dramas, (that can adversely affect you) experience your own mind and body – get intimate with what is going on inside of you. And – gratitude for what you DO have keeps that Saber Tooth Tiger at bay.