Choose love.


I’ve mentioned before that I am going through the exercises in the book “How to Train a Wild Elephant & other adventures in mindfulness” with my meditating friends. Some of the exercises have been more powerful than others. I wrote about my media fast last year, which was very eye-opening.

A few months ago we did an exercise called, “Notice Dislike.” Here is the exercise:

“Become aware of aversion, the arising of negative feelings toward something or someone. These could be mild feelings, such as irritation, or strong feelings such as anger or hatred. Try to see what happened just before the aversion arose. What sense impressions occurred sight, sound, touch, taste, smell, or thought? When does aversion first arise during the day?”

When I did the exercise that week it was all I could do to just notice it, which was actually pretty cool in and of itself. I would notice that I was angry or irritated and then go off on my little habit-formed thought pattern when I encounter these types of feelings. I didn’t notice any sensations that accompanied the irritation because I was already on the “irritation roller-coaster.”

However, when our group got back together to talk about our experiences my friend shared her discovery and it has completely changed my brain. She noticed that when she was irritated and she stopped and stepped back to acknowledge and observe it,  along with irritation (or aversion) it’s opposite feeling arose with it. The opposite of aversion is love.

So I’ve been trying this, and indeed, it is true. When I am irritated (to the best that I can – it doesn’t happen all the time) I take a step back and become an observer. When I do this I notice that there are two paths, the path of aversion and the path of love. This is pretty powerful. It means that when I am faced with these situations I have a choice. I am not a slave to those old thought patterns and habits. I am in control! I can choose love.

Admittedly, it is difficult sometimes but the choice is always there.

Media Fast: Day 7


My media fast has been mind-blowingly enlightening. As I mentioned the other day, after a couple of days I felt 100 percent better. No depression. More focus. My brain feels sharper. I think eliminating everything is a very important part of this exercise. By doing this I have realized what I miss and what I don’t miss. I have also been able to see what I am addicted to since I don’t have anything distracting me from my reactions to things.

I miss reading for entertainment. However, it has been good to take a break from it this week because I have been able to get the reading that I need to do for work done. I am taking a management class and I tend to choose other things to read, given the chance. This exercise has really caused me to focus on the reading for my class.

I miss listening to music. However, I have really enjoyed running without music and Runkeeper. I may not go back to running with music. I like the freedom of being gadget-free.

I don’t miss television at all. I never really watched it anyway.

I have mixed feelings about the internet and social media. On the one hand, I miss interacting with my friends. But I really don’t miss, at all, the clutter that these sites push. I don’t miss the inane news stories. I don’t miss the memes.

I have also noticed the way these social media sites make me feel, and the way not logging on everyday makes me feel. There is this pull to check. I noticed something bothersome yesterday. I deleted the Facebook app from my phone but kept the Facebook Messenger app. I used it yesterday to send a message to my brother. When I was on the “compose” screen a list of my FB friends was there and next to their names it told me when they were last active on Facebook. Why do I need to know this? And there is something about this knowledge that triggered this addictive need to “check Facebook.” I have developed this habit of needing to know what my friends are doing. It is unhealthy and weird, frankly. The FB developers have tapped into a social, voyeuristic instinct that humans have. I have never liked it. I don’t need to know that my friend has liked her other friend’s picture (a stranger that I have never met) from their trip to the Bahamas. I feel like this is an invasion of the privacy of both my friend and their friend. And I have never been able to figure out a way to turn this off. It is just pushed to me when I log on, whether I want this information or not.

So, needless to say, I think I am going to extend my social media fast. I will log in this week for a moment to upload photos from my brother’s wedding and to check in. I may also check in from Paris (probably not though. I want to experience Paris with no distractions). But otherwise, I think an extended Facebook/Twitter/social media break is in order.

Media Fast: Day Two

Thoughts and Opinions

This exercise, so far, has been amazing. One day of no media clutter  and already I feel healthier psychologically. My mind feel sharper and clearer. I feel happier and less depressed. I haven’t had any thoughts of self-loathing in 24 hours. It’s really kind of awesome.

There are moments when my ego wants to throw a tantrum because it doesn’t have anything to do. But the interesting thing about it is that it is easy to find things to do. Not having the distractions of media makes things so much simpler. I do what is in front of me. What needs to be done? The dishes? Ok. I’ll do the dishes. Now, is it boring to do the dishes? Yes it is. But it’s ok. It is only boring for that moment when I perceive it is boring. As soon as I start doing it I’m fine. And since I don’t have anything entertainment-wise to look forward to I am left with what is in front of me.


Running without music this morning was interesting as well. I was worried that It would be difficult but it wasn’t at all. In fact, nothing was different aside from not having the distractions of music and Runkeeper in the background.

This is something I am noticing too:  that maybe I shouldn’t have so many things going at one time. And I’m not even talking things that I am doing. I am talking about things going in the background. For example this morning I thought I would work on a scanning project for a friend of mine. While the slides were scanning I decided to knit and work on my French lesson. But as I was doing all of this I felt the heaviness of stress on me and realized that I am probably doing too much at one time. I decided to save the scanning project for later and concentrate on two things instead of three. In fact, it’s probably even better to deal with only one thing at a time but that is something that I will have to work on since I am the queen of multitasking.