bringingupbuddhas

suburban adventures in bu-curious mothering

Tag: postaday

“and now instead of him watching TV we all sit around and watch him”

the blog title and pic above are of shel silverstein’s famous  jimmy jet.  the following quote by robert thurman is in ed and deb shapiro’s book BE THE CHANGE, how meditation can transform you and the world.

“Meditation is a neutral and very powerful tool.  The choice is what are we going to meditate on?  Most people let themselves be guided by a culture that this trying to make them buy things or make them afraid through the news.  When we watch television and we see a commercial, it is like a guided meditation on dissatisfaction.  We have to guide our meditation in a positive direction.  We do this when we meditate on freedom, on penetrating to the deep nature of reality.  In other words, if we meditate on being egotistical, we will become more egotistical, but if we meditate on being selfless, we will become more caring and altruistic.  When we experience ourselves as totally integrated with everyone, we are naturally going to be compassionate and kind to them.”

i never really thought of tube time as meditation, but after reading these words i can see how this is so true.  so often, we sit in front of the television and vegetate.  vegetating is meditating, right?  so whatever is streaming into our consciousness is going to marinate for as long as we sit on the couch with the tube on.  and then it becomes a part of us.  this could be scary.  powerful.  advertisers are changing who we are on a cellular level through commercials.  seriously.  this is true.  and this is CRAZY.  it’s like brainwashing.  no wonder why every kid i see has a friggin pillow pet.  that commercial must run a hundred times a day.  they almost have no choice but to put the thing on their christmas lists.

i just had a conversation with my daughter’s montessori teacher yesterday about how different children are these days – how much bolder they are with adults.  how quick they are to inflict an abrasive comment on their teachers.  there is little doubt, for me, that the kids learn this snarky behavior from TV.  the way children act on “family” sitcoms is atrocious.  the characters are rude to their parents, they are rude to their neighbors, they are rude to other children’s parents.  (i’m thinking of shows specifically on disney and nick – “icarly” and “good luck charlie” such.)  whether we choose to believe it or not, the fact is, our children are modeling their own behavior after these characters.  they think that these actors are cool.  and they think that the behavior of these characters is…  wait for it…  NORMAL.  yes, that’s right.  scary.

and then, of course, is the programming that is pouring into that wide open channel in our adult brains while meditating in front of the TV.  through most news media and dramatic programming we are being programmed to fear.  notice how the tense of the verb changes.  we are no longer actively making a decision about how our brains are functioning; the television producers are making decisions for us.  we ARE BEING programmed.  not to get all big brother on you, but, well, it’s sort of like big brother.  right?

early last year, i banned all real housewives and most news programming from my house.  this was a big decision for me.  i reaaaallllllyyyyy loved my housewives.  BUT.  while watching the new york housewives reunion on bravo, my husband walked into the room and sat down on the couch.  the women on TV were verbally slaying  each other and hubby goes, “oh, v, my jaw is getting tight just listening to this.”  and then i scanned my own body.  my chest was tight and i had a big lump in my throat.  i turned it off and walked away for good.  and then i noticed the physical reactions i had while watching other programming, specifically local news.  i’d get tight and squeeze-y.  i encourage readers to do a physical scan while you watch TV.  it’s madness.  so now i limit my TV intake to programming that lifts me up or educates me.

my kids love TV.  i usually let them watch PBS, animal planet (they love “river monsters”) and some nick jr.  but as of today i’m pulling in the reins.  (oh, god, please give me the strength to do this.)  if they are going to do something as powerful as meditate on an idea for 30 minutes, it’s sure as shit not going to be what some money-focused CEO at disney wants for my kids.

meditation is a powerful tool.  maybe THE MOST powerful tool.  make a mindful decision about how you use it.  start by turning the channel.

from mine to yours,

vanessa

(this entry is reposted with edits from my blog “everything old is new age again“, may 18, 2012.)

bu-review: samsara directed by ron fricke

This is not a movie.  It’s a meditation.  Samsara is a breathtaking arrangement of moving pictures depicting spiritual life and landscape around the globe.  Without words or plot, this stirring film manages to tell a captivating story, to evoke high drama and powerful emotion.

There was one part that was really weird:  an American-looking man in a business suit does some crazy shizzle with clay.  It didn’t seem to jive with the rest of the presentation, but at least it conjured a laugh from the audience.  Besides that, I really loved it.

There were two ideas in particular that settled neatly into my mind as I exited the theatre.  The first was a clear image of samsara, or the unending cycle of birth, suffering, death and rebirth.  Not only the human cycle, but the cycle that we create through our own acts.  We manufacture, we use, we throw away. We manufacture, we use, we throw away.  Not only every day things (appliance, electronics, automobiles), but also our houses of worship (ancient ruins, temples and homes).  The second idea that I received fully was that we are all the same.  The film communicated this very simply.  Fricke set up pictures of people from all different races and cultures staring at the audience from the other side of the camera.  Staring into the eyes of another, without inhibition or fear, I could sense connectedness, oneness.

On a personal side note, I snuck out on a Thursday night to catch a showing of Samsara in Cambridge.  I arrived early, nestled into my seat, all alone, took a deep breath and relaxed.  I quickly became engrossed in the film’s imagery, floating around the scenes like hovercraft.  I was abruptly jerked back to Earth when my husband surprised me with his presence, climbing over legs to reach the seat next to mine.  For the next 40 minutes, he shoveled swollen handfuls of popcorn into his mouth and breathed heavily through his nose, occasionally leaning over to offer me a bite or identifying a photo, “That’s in Utah.”   Thanks for being so thoughtful, honey.

From mine to yours,

Vanessa

suffering: oh, how we love a good train wreck

Last week I shared a traumatic experience with readers.  I was rewarded, in a weird way, with well over 300 hits on that post over 2 days.  Now, I’ve gotta say…  I have logged 200 plus posts in my 2 years of blogging: uplifting, funny, emotional, quirky, informational posts that I write with loving intent.  Never once have I received that many hits on a post in such a short amount of time.

What this tells me, is that people love a good train wreck.

We’re all just a bunch of rubberneckers.  None of us can resist the temptation of watching someone suffer.  We love to watch each other burn, don’t we?  Public hangings, courtroom dramas, war footage, animal attacks, car accidents, couples arguing on the sidewalk, school kids fighting after class, anything on Jerry Springer…  We gather around with curiosity to watch as others suffer.  Sick and twisty, right?  But we’ve all done it.

And this is nothing new.  When I read books or watch movies about King Henry’s England (one of my fave topics) I’m always amazed to see mothers and fathers bringing their kids to watch public executions.  There is one scene in the movie Elizabeth I, in which QEI is tricked into thinking her beloved Jewish doctor, Dr. Lopez, is poisoning her.  She feels she has no choice but to have him executed.  We are flashed forward to a grizzly torture scene where Dr. Lopez watches as his very own intestines are cut out of his body and burned.  Did I mention he is still alive watching this???  Oh, and there are families standing around cheering?  Horrid.  But we watch anyway.

We are voyeurs.

We are curious.

We are glad it’s not us.

We might even feel happy it’s them.

Suffering doesn’t always mean blood and guts.  Suffering can be much more benign.  And I’d bet that we can all relate to certain joys and reliefs found in observing others’ pain.  Watching that woman who always wins first place as she falls down during a race.  (Good, she won’t win this time.)  Finding out your son didn’t make the varsity soccer team, but your neighbor’s son didn’t make it either.  (Phew, he’s not the only one who was cut.)  Learning your co-worker has to cancel his vacation to Barbados b/c a storm damaged his hotel.  (Ha!  Now he’s stuck here like the rest of us.)

There’s nothing to feel bad about.  These are things we think b/c we are wired to think this way.  But.  (There’s always a But.)  We don’t have to think this way.  These thoughts are not creating a better world.  These thoughts are holding us back from standing in the spotlight that is meant to shine on us.  Instead of focusing attention on our own identities, our own stories, our own intentions, we are busy applauding someone else’s failures or feeling jealous of other people’s successful journeys.

Each of us has a path designed specifically for ourselves.  Once we set our intentions straight and start working towards our goals, there won’t be any time to watch others burn.  In fact, when we do come across others’ moments of suffering, we will discover a heightened sense of compassion.  Successful people help others succeed.  Michelle Obama said this beautifully at the DNC last month:

When we succeed in our own stories, we will no longer have the desire to poo poo other people’s efforts to live their best lives.  We can succeed by living mindfully, compassionately, purposefully…  and with intention.

One important addition to today’s story:  I know that spike wasn’t all about rubbernecking.  The high traffic last week tells me something else, something that especially warms my heart.  There are a lot of mommies, friends and readers who appreciated the peek inside a really horrible day in my house.  Through my embarrassing admission, others could see their own households reflected.  And through this reflection might spark the desire to actively heal.  I know that’s what it did for me.  And for that, I’m totally in love with you.  🙂  Well, then again, I was pretty much in love with you already anyway.

From mine to yours,

Vanessa