Monday, October 27, 2008

View from the Edge of Unplugging the TV

Have you ever heard the saying, turn off TV and turn on your life?

A News Junky Unplugs

About 3 years ago, I stopped watching the news and programs that were "background TV noise" and only watched two one-hour shows during the week that I enjoyed (maybe three). I stayed informed by glancing at national headlines from my internet homepage or from friends or family. If I needed to know more, I could look it up on the internet. This was amazing for me as I had previously been a news junkie. In fact, I have a degree in Journalism and Public Communication and worked in print media for several years before moving into technical writing and proposals. The TV morning news, CNN all day, and the nightly news were always on around me. I read a few papers every day. Junky hardly describes my immersion. This was air to me.

So to turn off the news was a big deal. But when I did, I felt the benefits right away. I felt good all of the time, and my thoughts and conversations were more positive. On occassion I would "run into" a TV that was airing the news. It was like running into a wall, and immediately I would begin to feel bad.

BREAKING NEWS: You Will Not Only Survive Without the News, You will Fluorish

About 2 years into my Unplugging from the News, and about 5 years after the U.S. had invaded Iraq, I "ran into" a TV in a doctor's waiting room with these words blazed across the screen: "BREAKING NEWS: Terrorists Found in Afghanistan".

The 'snerk' noise that I expelled through my airways was not received well by the waiting room watchers, who were engrossed by the details of this shocking information. Their disdain for my disdain made me check the TV again - maybe I'd misperceived what I saw and it was actually a documentary on the history of the Iraq War or something. So, I quietly sat down, assumed a respectful posture, and peered intently at the screen waiting for The Truth to Unfold.

But the reporter was live and commenting that indeed, terrorists were in Afghanistan. I studied the faces in the waiting room. None of them seemed to think this was beyond bizarre. Five years into a War on Terror, many innocent lives lost in Afghanistan, and no one thought this breaking news was ridiculous? Thank God CNN was there to report it, because who would have thought there were terrorists in Afghanistan?

But I need to Know About the Presidential Election...

Travel forward about a year ... The U.S. presidential election. I wanted to be an informed voter in one of the most fantastic, powerful voting opportunities in the history of the U.S. (all 230 years of it.). This vote would not just impact me, my state, my nation, but the world. I developed a morbid fascination in watching the polls and the politics.

I turned the news on to see the debates. But did it inform me? Yes; I saw how far the presidential candidates were willing to go to discredit each other. I heard some policy mentioned during the debates, but it wasn't anything that I didn't already know. Democrats want to help the middle class; Republicans want to help businesses and the rich...trickle down and all that. It was not a debate on policy, it was a debate on who was the biggest liar. That should be a new show: The Biggest Liar. Infact, the debators consistently lobbed untrue accusations at each other and fed the listeners misinformation, which included statistics that shored up their positions. What was the truth anymore? I felt I knew less when I turned off the TV debate.

But I need to Know About the Economy...

It stinks. And what you focus on, you get more of. But I didn't listen to that wise and compassionate voice inside telling me to "Knock it off! Turn that off! It makes you feel bad!"...

I couldn't help myself. I wanted to watch the news so I could see the plunging and rising of the Dow and global markets. I'm kinda twisted I guess. The demise of greedy lenders, bankers, and CEOs was rather refreshing news. But in truth, I have a belief that things will get better once the corruption and greed is passed, and once money is not considered more important than people or the Earth. I truly believe our economy will one day be based on wellness. that's another story entirely, but that is my belief, so maybe it's a little less unsettling for me.
So I'd watch, every day, two or three times a day, as the Dow plunged, then went up, plunged, then went up. But even in my hopes that its massive thrashing would eventually bring a better, more enlightened economy, watching it got old because it made me worry. There was nothing I could do to change the Dow or my worry over it when I watched.


But there was so much more to watch ... there was the political scandals and news from my own backyard: I turned the news on to see Alaska's own sweetheart governor, Sarah, take the national stage and Uncle Ted (Stevens) be drug across the arena tied to the media chariot. I turned the news on to see if Hurricane Whatsitsface was going to wipe out Houston, Galveston, New Orleans, Miami, and make another run for Cuba. It seemed I had to sate some strange urge. (I even checked out those cool hurricane tracking websites. Technology is so amazing these days! You can zoom all over the planet on those websites.)

And along with this urge to watch news, I began watching the background-noise shows again. They were not interesting, they were just making noise.

WAKE UP CALL: News Makes You Sick

Wow. I felt drained. Physically, mentally and emotionally. I had developed what I can only describe as a negative background cocktail of fear, concern, morbid fascination, and dread. Actually, just writing about this makes me feel yuck. It goes away only when I apply serious amounts of meditation, clearing, grounding and positive visualizations.

So when I recognized this was happening to me a few weeks ago, I turned off the news and background shows. I went back to watching those two (or three) shows that I have always watched.

Just a Matter of Time: Will the Negative Cocktail Nausea Take Out Prime Time?

Yet I am still noticing something isn't quite right. Maybe I'm coming to a point in life where I just need to let go of TV. AAAGH! Did I type that out loud!? I don't know what's more unsettling: that I have to miss Survivor or that I'm treating TV like it is a requirement to stay it's air.

Even with just the two shows I watch (okay, maybe it's three) I've noticed that prior to watching them, I feel wonderful: My mood is great, my vibration is high, and I even feel excited by the prospect of watching my show! Aaahhh, all is right in the world as I settle in with my gargantuan bowl of popcorn, to just be ... with my TV.

And while I'm watching, I don’t notice how I feel anymore. I start to zone into the reality of the reality show. I'm totally unconscious of my being. Yet I am very good at stuffing my face with popcorn.

When the program ends, I notice that my wonderful-feeling emotions are gone and I've lost my background of inner peace. It is replaced by a low-hum of discontent, which feeds into any issue I may be having in life at that time. And so starts the Negative Cocktail Hour.

Clearly this is not good, but check me out as I struggle with this issue this year! I am definitely processing what TV means to me and how far I am willing to experience the struggle. Usually for me, this level of processing means that the issue is coming to a head. And it looks like I'm leaning toward Total Unplugging.

Life Without TV: What Would This Strange New Unplugged World Look Like?

To move forward in my own "turning-off-of-the-TV," I look at the positives: My daughter and I will be doing other things together that are interactive and pleasant, like playing board games, getting outside for a wild game of extreme badminton in 20-degree weather, and even enjoying that thing they call ... what is it? Talking? I actually can't wait - hm. Coming back to family.
I also keep reminding myself that if I turn off the TV I will save money. That should equal about $60 per month for my particular cable package. Right on! More lattes! It's sad in a funny way that my daughter doesn't understand that when I say I'm going to shut off the TV, she doesn't realize I'm talking about the cable company, and therefore both of the TVs in the house. She keeps telling me I can turn off the TV if I want, but I can't touch her TV. I told her I would never touch her TV. Luckily there's a DVD and video player in that thing. That'll keep her from throwing it through the wall when she finds out what "shut off" really means. *Sigh*...Teenagers.

But if, like myself and my daughter, one is thinking "AAAAGH! What about Survivor!?" (Or insert your favorite show), then at least consider only watching TV when you are willing to be very present and aware. Only watch when you are not tired, and your mind is not empty. In the tired and empty states, your mind is vulnerable to the flood of mis-information or over-information that the programs, advertisements, and the news provide.

Mind Your Unconscious Mind

Eckhart Tolle in "A New Earth" recommends that if you do watch TV, you need to be very present, not “lose” yourself in it. And don't watch TV when you're tired because when you're tired, your mind goes into neutral, and in the absense of your own thoughts and beliefs, programming and advertisers insert their information. Kinda scarey, huh? I suspect that this is why I have been feeling so crappy with just the two (ur ... three) TV shows I'm following. Probably because most channels, except those like PBS in the U.S., have advertisements. My favorite shows have plenty of commercials, most I've seen so many times, I can't bear to hear or watch them anymore. Their meer repetition ignites an agitation and annoyance in me that only is alleviated by one thing: the mute button. Oh beautiful button of silence sent by truly loving gods.

Which brings us to Number 544 of the 1,001 Good Reasons to Turn Off the TV: The over-the-counter and prescription drug advertisers know that the evening news makes you feel bad, and that you're tired during the evening hours - so they intentionally run their ads about drugs that will make you feel better during the news hours. And the impact they may not have predicted: the drug ads may make you feel better because you're so annoyed with advertisements.
To see this for yourself, the next time you watch the evening news, take a pen and paper and mark down every prescription or OTC drug ad you see. In the end, your tally will show that drug commercials are the predominant advertisements during the evening news.
From this former journalist and news-aholic: If you turn the news off, you aren't missing anything. At first your mind will try to tell you you are, but when you come to see that the news is simply one person's perspective, one organization's perspective, one group's perspective, and that there is always many other perspectives for every event, there is nothing in the news that will give you information that you must know in this moment.

Instead of looking at all the bad events, look instead at all the good things you can do when you turn off the TV for yourself, for your family, for your community. When you focus on positives in your life, you put that vibration out there that inspires others to focus on positives. This is how you benefit others when you turn off your TV. There's not only inspiration, but there is also a thing that Carl Jung called Collective Consciousness. Scientists at Princeton call it the Noosphere. Spiritual leaders call it many different names like Field of Consciousness and Oneness. All of us are connected to it. You may not be able to see it, but it is there and when you are focusing on beautiful things, like your laughing children and trees while walking in nature, you are feeding the Field of Consciousness the beauty you see. When you watch the negative events of the news and absorb the advertisements consciously or unconsciously, you are not only feeling ill and effecting your own vibration, but this vibration is being sent into the Field of Consciousness as well.

Investigate unplugging the TV, and consider connecting to your wellbeing instead. By sharing your positive, healthy vibration in the collective consciousness, this is where you are effecting real change in your wellness, your family and friends' wellbeing, and that of the world.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

October's Wild Ride

October has brought huge waves of awareness, and I was rocked by several "realizations" about life and several epiphanies that opened my eyes. As we move forward, it seems reality as I used to understand it is gone, and in its place is a simple, new reality. It has shown me that I am not what I thought, and I am more than I thought, and that we truly are here to change the world.

Take for instance the Dow Jones. It seems to be matching my rollercoaster ride. This is symbology at work, reflecting an inner feeling of an individual to an outer-world reality.

This month I have seen my shadow side frequently, and often plunged into its depths, distraught at my failures, frustrated with my inability to create or manifest, feeling so alone and apart. Then suddenly a wave of light arrives, and on that wave of light comes the realization that without the dark, I could not see the light, the truth of who I am. The darkness is just the other side of the coin. And after night, comes day. My eyes open and I see the perfection around me: the winter trees, the rocks covered in snow, and my place among them.

And so follows the Dow Jones. Strange, isn’t it? What baramoter have we created that we were unaware of? Go to the Dow Jones to see how you’re feeling today. What came first, the chicken or the egg? The plunging dow or my dark side?

But it is just so: Wall Street is looking for good news, then sees bad. It goes up, it goes down. And like Wall Street, every individual’s inner barometer is measuring their inner turmoil right now. Like Wall Street, every individual is being asked to look at their situation and question their reality. In the words of Suze Orman, we thought there was a house with a foundation, but under the foundation was an enormous sink hole.

That sink hole exists in each and every one of us. It was based on lies, we lied to ourselves to get these loans, and the banks lied to themselves and us to give the loans, and now there is nothing to support the lies.

Ask yourself this: Do you have a home now? Where is it?

Some might say the home is that beautiful house you had to give up, or one answer might be "not this stinking apartment." But your home is none of these, is it? Because as long as your heart beats, your home is inside of you. You carry it with you, it is not an outside object made of wood and slab. It is the part of you that keeps your family whole, that speaks to who you are as you go through your day. So long as you have your home and your health, you will be living a truth. Not a lie.

When individuals begin to balance their polarities, that is to say, balance their struggle between material (house outside you) and the immaterial (house inside you), right and wrong, good and evil, masculine and feminine, being and doing - whatever their struggle is - the new economy will become stable.

For example, the polarity I am working through is integrating the male and female aspects within me. This doesn’t mean I’m a guy trying to come out of a female body, it means that within all of us there are male aspects and female aspects. I am learning to integrate the feminine concepts of allowing, acceptance, creating, and surrender into the masculine concepts of doing and powering through.

When I burned out in the corporate world - “cratered” - I lived off of saved money to invest in the time I needed to discover what I wanted to become. Eventually, I sold the snow machines and other items on Craig’s List (not the cabin!), and did the "big taboo" of the financial world: I re-framed the purpose of my 401K and IRAs.

Times are changing. Money was based on greed and accumulation. I could see the money disappearing before my eyes even in October 2007. Did I want it to disolve on Wall Street or did I want to pay my bills while I worked through the greatest learning period of my life? It was an investment in myself, like college had been. And it was what I was inspired to do.

There is a new economic trend coming. It is to reframe the concept of wealth. People and the planet will matter more than money. What we needed yesterday, is not what we need today. What we need tomorrow is not money for security; what we need tomorrow is to know that if we are cut off from utilities, can we get heat, light, and sanitary water? If we are cut off from food sources, can we get food to eat?

It is what we are being that is valuable now, not how good we look as we are doing. Not what money we have saved or hoarded. If you want your money to matter, find out who you want to be in earnest. Take time to sit alone and think about what you want your future to look like. Does it matter if it involves a fancy car, or that your family is healthy?

Money will be taking a back seat soon. Money will no longer matter because you can’t have enough of it to keep your stocks from “cratering.” You cannot have enough money to protect you from a world that lived in lies about money. That world was based on greed, dishonesty, disrespect, and “not enough.” Always never enough.

A good question to ask in times like these is, What do I know about sustaining myself? If you know nothing, then start to learn! It is never too late and time only goes by. One of the best schools from which to learn about living is the cooperative extension services at your local universities. Most of their programs are free or priced very low. They have the classes that teach you about collecting and growing foods in your area, composting, raising farm animals, master gardening, canning, and so much more. When I started to learn sustaining methods 3 years ago, I didn't realize that was what I was doing. I took master gardening classes, learned to can, played with building structures, and learned to use a chain saw. But it was not until this month, October 2008, that I had the “epiphanies” that all that I had learned will pay off in the next few years.

After I left my job, I used my 401K and IRA money to determine the most important question: In the present, what am I representing as I put my energy forward? In the past, what has been my “passion” – those themes that pepper my life with joy? In the future, who do I want to become?

If you know all that you are and you are comfortable even as the stock market soars and plummets, then ask yourself what your community needs, because it is your community that will be your foundation in the future. An example of this is the banks: big banks are “Cratering”; small local banks are fine because they didn’t use the bad business practices, didn’t get greedy, and stayed true to their customers, the local community.

In the end, we’re all going to be fine. But in an almost Taoist way, we must come to terms with who we really are. We must face our polarities, bring our energies and money and resources into ourselves and our communities, and allow this global economic ride to unfold.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Proof of the Awakening: Lightworkers Wear Flannel

I have an announcement to make: Lightworkers wear flannel.

I saw them this weekend. At the Bioneers in Alaska Conference. They were men, my second favorite topic. Rising consciousness is my first favorite. So imagine my excitement when I went to my first Bioneers Conference and these men weren't the stereotypical male lightworkers: the healer in a turtle neck; the Native American elder or shaman; or the young dread-locked rebel. Don't get me wrong, I love the male lightworkers, dreads and all! They have been my anchor in the belief that men are a part of this world and actually will come with us females as we move into consciousness. It's just that my perception has followed that they looked like John Edward and live on the East Coast (most notably Long Island), or Arizona, or San Francisco. Or Great Brittain. Or Europe. Definitely Europe. But not really in Alaska.

Now, one might understand my ignorance because when you live in Alaska with He-Men of the North, many of whom shoot, hunt, and grunt next to pitbulls wearing lipstick, you will understand that it is uncommon to see flannel-wearing peoples of the male variety attending a conference on the health of humanity and the planet. You betcha.

I have attended other Alaska events with spiritual themes, and can quite accurately say that most Lightworkers in Alaska who go to these conferences tend to be female.

So when the topic turned to similiarities between the systems of ecology and economy, which was laced with spiritual overtones, I watched these flannel-clad men most carefully to see if they looked stunned or flinched. Afterall, they are men ... would they admit to this more feminine approach to reality without feeling challenged?

But they did not flinch. Instead they nodded. Woa. They concurred. Whether they would concur to the fact that I'm calling them Lightworkers might be less certain, but it was clear as daylight that they were nodding their agreement to the belief that consciousness is on the rise.

Talk about awakening. If ever there was proof that consciousness is rising, it was at the Bioneers Conference this weekend. These men were engineers, construction workers, biologists, and inventors. They talked about their toys: biocomposters, whole-home systems, biofuel to run cars, non-toxic wood preservers, and, my favorite, the 3,000 square foot house that paid the local natural gas utility $190 for one winter - ONE WINTER IN ALASKA. That's an 8-month season folks. My little 1,400 sf house uses that in 1.5 months.

So today I woke up and suddely understood how enormous this shift in consciousness really is.

This morning, I needed to get the word out. Everyone has to know: there are men out there who are lightworkers, and they wear flannel. I am fairly certain that in 2012, we will see the Holy Grail of awakening proof: men in Carharts and steel-toed boots at the Bioneers conference. Just hang onto your seats for that crazy ride!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

The Little Voice

Every morning when I type in the day in my personal journal (Monday, Tuesday, etc.), a voice in my head says “Another Monday?” As if a multitude of Mondays has gone by and that one thing I wanted to have happen, hasn’t happened yet. While this little voice seems harmless, it’s repetitive subtle questioning is actually pretty damaging; first, because it is wrong, and second, because it is piling on criticism every morning, almost subconsciously.

In studying egos, I have learned that they work inside every individual like a separate entity. The ego’s job is to give the person an identity. That is not bad–we all need our egos to function in this world. But the ego will try to form an identity for you that will judge everyone and exaggerate your status in the world around you: “I’m all that and a bag of chips” is a familiar ego type; but just as notable is the “I’m not as good as they are.” And yes, even when a person experiences “Yet another Tuesday” with the feeling that you’ve missed out or aren’t getting it right, that’s the ego too.

In the end, the ego is giving you an identity to let you know where you measure up in the world around you by judging people, situations, events, objects, creatures, whatever comes before you. These judgments define and label these things and can be useful. But when you hear criticism come from your lips or your mind, about yourself or another, that is always the ego.

The way to stop the criticism is to bring attention to it. Bring your awareness to the feelings and thoughts that are behind the criticisn. Observe yourself feeling the negative, critical thinking. When you do this, the criticism and negative emotions tend to melt away.

Also, be careful not to beat yourself up for criticizing, as that’s the ego too. Instead, go back to the observing (even of the self-criticizing), and see what happens. This how you bring awareness into your world, and how you begin to awaken. This is being fully conscious.

I’m not waiting for anything better or more to come into my life! When I told a curious friend once that I wasn’t really job-job hunting, she said, “Oh I get it, you’re creating!”


I suppose “creating” can be construed to imply I am hoping to finish making something, but hey, this creation stage of my life is really all that life is, and I am doing my best to work on “not waiting for anything.” I am in the moment as much as possible, and have an entirely new approach to life: I take a step, stop and observe where the Universe opens a door or urges me to go. So an opportunity comes up, I take a step, stop and observe. And though my life now may seem to not fit into America’s definition of successful, I can tell you that my life once did fit into that definition, and I paid a high price for that success. I learned a lot, and
earned enough to financially cover me for the first several months of creating, and for that I am grateful! But to be honest, I have no idea how the money continues to come in just when I need it and how much I need. I don’t live “well” or have extra money lying around but if I told you I was in Hawaii a month ago, you’d probably think I was lying (photo is of the harbor on Kauai).

Life is about creating - and when you feel like you don't have control, that's when you know your ego is trying to take over and get control. The ego needs to feel in control and needs to narrate that control. So when I heard my ego say "It's another Monday" this morning, I realized I needed to let the desire to control go, and acknowledge that I am successfully creating.