On social media and meditation

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As with all other body parts, the best thing you can do for a tired brain is to rest it. I took an hour off of my life to do a bit of yoga and meditation (which I got as a PE in university for a semester some time ago). I guess I just wanted to flush out all of the little distractions in my head and pass the evening productively. Thankfully, I still remembered how to do the signature darth vader breaths my yoga instructor taught me. Closing my eyes, I rested on the mat and faced the ceiling with palms resting upwards. Inhale, exhale. Chest rising, chest falling.

Within the first minute of this exercise, several thoughts—the ones that float in your mind throughout the day—flooded my system. It was like seeing a hundred balloons pop all at once in glaring neon colors. I began to realize how cluttered my brain had been.  Breathe in, breathe out. I shifted into sitting position, preparing my body for the first pose: a half-split. Admittedly, my muscles did feel a little stiff.

After a while, the music in my ears began to swell. I was doing a sun salutation—a combination of A and B, as I got the motions mixed up. My chaturanga was awkward and rusty—rather, I was never strong enough to do one correctly. My own thoughts faded into the back of my head. After the salutations, I did a few more poses to pass the night. With dim lighting and warm candle light flickering in the background, it seemed like a restful evening.

Suddenly, my phone acted up. I knew that it was a notification from Facebook. This was how my concentration began to crumble. I did a couple more poses—the warrior, the dolphin, child’s pose, and for a while I was able sit still, reveling at the thought of nothing. Still, the thought tugged at the back of my mind, the ringtone familiar in my ears. I almost stood up but stopped myself. I held my concentration for a few more minutes.

Then, my mind began to wander. I wondered if I’d spent enough time meditating, and how longer do I ought to stay that way. My body began to feel the cold air, the impatience of the online community and the rest of the world. Finally, I ended the session and looked at my watch.

Only twenty minutes had passed.

Though the yoga session had its desired effect on me—calmness and positive energy, I feel like I have a long way to go with regards to taking a step away from the world, and ‘owning’ my time.

Recently, I’ve been thinking about how heavily I rely on Facebook, Twitter and all other social media platforms to validate myself. With these tools, I am able to connect to people from distant places. It’s especially useful to me because my closest friends are people I don’t see on a daily (or even weekly) basis. With this platform, I am able to express myself from the comfort of my home and socialize without having to show my face or care for my appearance—an introvert’s dream, really. I can spend hours browsing through my newsfeed and ‘getting to know’ people whose daily lives I otherwise wouldn’t have learned about. It’s a great invention, indeed, and one that has created communities.

But with every ring, I get an unreasonable desire to check my messages—convincing myself that each notification is crucial to my life. Having been used to real-time and instant messaging, I feel the need to be able to view these messages instantly as well. Without these devices, I really do feel left out, missing out on a huge chunk of my life. When most of Facebook is mindless scrolling through an endless list of jokes, memes, and #ootd photos, I really don’t understand how I waste so much time on this platform.

Worst of all, I love oversharing…  about every useless detail. Tonight, I lit a candle to ‘relax’ but snapped a picture and posted it before the session. I played a few songs on my guitar and recorded a video for my friends to see. In travels, my mind immediately jumps to how good a subject would look in a photo. It’s like half my consciousness has been uploaded to the online world, and I can’t have a passing thought without posting about it.

I’ve been becoming more and more aware of this reliance on the internet. I guess it’s a very millennial thing, as well—this mindset, and the obsession with documentation. (Pics or it didn’t happen.) My friend did call my facebook addiction a disease. So I guess… in the next few days, I will be cutting down on my social media usage. We’ll see how it goes from there.

-B

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