A perennial topic for the harried is the benefit of fasting. A timeless religious tradition and spiritual practice, fasting cleanses the mind and body. Typically when I fast I do it with food. And I generally do my 7 day water fasts over the Holy Nights between Christmas and epiphany. But as I push through the final stages of healing my previously chronic illness I am considering a media fast instead.
I have a consistent meditation practice but the kind of mindfulness that comes from a break in the information flow seems more appealing. I’m exhausted from the constant crisis of the past three weeks as we careened from Georgia to the Capital insurrection to media deplatforming and silencing to finally the Inauguration. I had my hilarious shopping binge where I picked up every relaxation facilitating product I could find. But perhaps it’s time to admit I need some forced distance between me and the information firehose.
A proper retreat requires a significant break with outside stimulation. Which I’m not entirely sure is necessary. But I am concerned about overstimulation from media arcs both political and pandemic related. In Dr. Sepah’s original writing on dopamine fasting he presented it as a way to regain control over automatic rigid behaviors that have negative stimulus triggers.
In his words this type of cognitive behavioral therapy “weakens the classical conditioning in a process called ‘habituation’, which ultimately restores our behavioral flexibility.” So perhaps rather than seek a fast or a retreat or a detox I’m simply looking to break the impulses and anxiety that the media arcs have implanted in me. I do not wish to engage in the narratives of anxiety or jubilation (neither have inherently more truth) when they are not my own impulses or emotions.
My energy and my emotions are my own. I need them for my own health. They are not meant to be manipulated by outside players with their own agendas. That I need my energy for my own reasons should not even need saying. Media or political players don’t own me. There is no moral obligation that I stay tuned in. My attention cannot save anything but myself. So I will explore putting some distance between myself and the media for a but. My goal is to break from reactivity that was created externally. I’ll still be writing daily. And I suspect I’ll dabble in the bits of Twitter that bring me enjoyment and connection. But I’ll give myself the space to heal.