I watched The Social Dilemma on Netflix last night and I have to say, I’m not sure I should have. Don’t misunderstand me. I agreed with 99% of the documentary but all it really did – aside from adding to my paranoia – was solidify a belief I’ve had for years and that is: We are losing the ability to form real and meaningful connections.
I have a love/hate relationship with social media because I know if it wasn’t for Facebook, I’d never had any readers of this blog. I also work in the field of Digital Fundraising (Or “Peer To Peer” as they say in the biz). I understand that sharing is caring in that world and if people didn’t share, money doesn’t get raised. If money doesn’t get raised, I lose my job, and (here’s the real problem…) my son would not get the number of chicken nuggets he does now. But, I don’t live in that world and I kinda feel like an imposter. (I suppose, though, that I don’t have to use heroin to know it’s bad for me. Some things are a given, you know?) I have never had accounts on Instagram, Snapchat, WhatsApp, Reddit, Tik Tok – or any of the others that all the cool kids use. If I am to publicly admit to being addicted to any time-sucking app, then Pinterest is my drug of choice. In my very well-organized, 42 board world, my house is tiny and well decorated, my kid has the best birthday parties, I’m over toxic relationships, I’m married to Rip Wheeler, I exercise like a boss and only consume Vegan Keto meals while in my ‘eating window’ because of, well, intermittent fasting. In other words, I pin pin pin and never do do do. I’ve written about unplugging before so maybe I should read it again myself.
Which brings us right into the fourth Yama within the Eight Limbs of Yoga. I love it when the Universe aligns like that and gives me something esoteric in which to hang my hat. Today’s Yama is Brahmacharya.
Brachmacharya is about the practice of moderation. Doing anything to excess in our lives—food, sex, work—typically leads to imbalances, leaving us with low energy and high frustration. Brahmacharya can help us. Half the battle is becoming aware of where we’re going into excess and why we’re doing it. Then we can make changes. It’s been about four weeks since I was in the yoga class that introduced Brahmacharya so I’ve had some time to sit with it. I think we can all admit that we partake too much in something in our lives but for me there were four biggies that stood out. Here they are:
Conserving Sexual Energy: I’m not going to get into a ton of details here because my sex life isn’t something I discuss publicly. But, I have written about how I’ve recently decided to be single. Part of this journey is simply to refrain from any romantic endeavors and sexual encounters for a specific time period. If history has taught me anything, I have learned that leaving one relationship and jumping right into another one is a good way to recreate toxicity and fuck things up right from the start. I’ve done this many, many times in my lifetime. It’s time to do something different.
Slothfulness. Okay, typically I’m not prone to laziness – ask anyone who knows me. I work hard and stay really busy. But that lends itself to the other side of the pendulum swing – my downtime. I ain’t gonna lie, I have (like everyone else on the planet – thanks COVID) been isolating and missing planned social activities. At first, the introvert in me was like “Dude. Forced social distancing? Yay!” But now, seven months in, I found I can breeze through an entire series on Netflix in a weekend only getting up for the pizza delivery, another glass of wine, or to change out of my stinky pajamas into my clean pajamas. Really. It got ugly. I give myself permission to do this occasionally, but I was definitely not practicing moderation six months into this pandemic. After learning of Brachmacharya, I canceled Amazon Prime, Hulu, and Peacock. (I kept Netflix, obviously). I started hiking two-three times a week and meditating when I’m bored to ease the anxiety and impulse to ‘fill time’. When my son is with his dad, I drive. I drive a lot – with the goal of finding a new place to explore.
Living inside my telephone. Jason Isbell, in his song If It Takes A Lifetime, croons about fighting the urge to live inside his telephone and I have to say “Yes. This is an issue.” The revelation – and I’m checking my call log as we speak – is that even though I pick the damn thing up to see if I have any messages about 400 times a day…my actual ‘recent calls’ list indicates that I haven’t had a call lasting over two minutes in two weeks. I’ve written about my CHOICE to put all romantic relationships on hold for a while but I can still also admit that there are times when I am really fucking lonely. (Not in a sad, set me up with your single cousin, way so just stop. But still…) We aren’t just able to go out right now and all social activities require a six-foot distance. At times, it isn’t really worth the effort – but today – if I can pawn my kid off, I’m going to find myself a big ol’ body of water and paddle a boat. Maybe I’ll meet a new friend. Maybe I won’t. But here’s what I won’t be doing, for sure, and that’s sitting on my ass waiting for my phone to ping..
Overthinking. Okay, admittedly, I haven’t mastered this but at least I am aware of it. Last night on my Anti-TV-Binge-hike at Lake Springfield, I actually stopped, looked around for other people, and said – outloud – “Denise, you can’t go back to the fucking past. Move forward, stop thinking about this, and be grateful for what’s happening today.” I don’t know if my self-scolding was helpful but I did switch my Spotify playlist to something less-melancholy and each time my thoughts started going back I pivoted to thinking about the next flavor ice cream I’m gonna try at Baskin Robbins. I’m a thinker, by nature, and I actually like this about myself. I am proud of my ability to think through a problem and come out the other side of it with several solutions. But, when it comes to matters of the heart, overthinking can drive me temporarily mad so I have to learn to practice Brachmacharya.
So – of course – I’m gonna leave you with a song today from one of my favorite local artists, Barak Hill. I will also leave you with some questions and I’d love to hear from you.
How has this pandemic created imbalances in your life?
Are you addicted to the Dopamine hits each like, ping, and comment gets you?
Can you disconnect your life for an entire weekend? A week? A year?
How would you make a shift to connect with others if you weren’t simply able to scroll through your Facebook feed?