A new Pew Research Center survey conducted in March this year found that a majority of Americans expect a weaker economy, a flawed political system and a general deterioration in the environment by 2050. The news cycles coming out are often stressful, negative and disparaging. We’re being bombarded by an ever-increasing stream of media reports, deceptive advertising and social distractions. And all this is over and above our day-to-day responsibilities that we cannot do without. Retreating to the Himalayas or a cave isn’t an option; in fact, it never was a real one though many tried it for their spiritual development.
What are some special methods meditators need and use to survive this onslaught on our attention?
Let us find out.
1) Taking Control of Your Attention
The first step is to develop a sharp level of awareness about your thoughts and your attention at all moments of your waking life. Nearly all of us struggle with this. It comes down to whether you can take back control of your attention and direct it anywhere you want, anytime, by pulling it out of the mire of thoughts inside you.
Ever noticed the racy chaotic muddle of thoughts inside your head? You rise above them by raising your attention to a higher state of consciousness as in Sahaja meditation – a realm where they cannot exist. This is precisely the state of true meditation. A lot of people recognize this as silencing or calming the mind. Technically, it is going beyond the mind and thoughts.
Once you master this technique, you’ve taken back your attention and have the invaluable ability to detect and analyze your thoughts and reactions along with reasons for those. You can then firmly redirect your attention elsewhere. You can shut down the trail of thought and especially the negative ones. You can detach and move on with your productive work.
2) Rise Above the Mental Debates and Arguments
Now, back to our problem of the annoying, anxiety-increasing events around us. Once we have control over our attention, the simplest yet most powerful strategy is to ignore and rise above them, after a point. When these events and news about them come into our attention, they are only valuable up to the point of keeping us aware of the world around us. When they lead us to witness endless debates, personal attacks, biased viewpoints and hidden agendas, it’s time to move on and move upwards in our case.
Rising above typically means forgiving that moment and everything associated with it and just letting go. It’s about telling yourself that you have better and more valuable things in life to focus on. And more specifically, it is about going into the state of Thoughtless Awareness as soon as you feel the stress of these news reports and worrying thoughts.
In many cases, this can be extremely hard to do. But you know now that this is the only way out of the mess, at least for us. To keep our attention and yourself healthy and peaceful.
3) Use Your Own Standards of Morality and Ethics
Too many of the news reports and noise in the media is because of the standards of morality assumed by the news outlet. Or if not, by the commonly prevailing standard. Just as we need complete control over our attention, we need our own precise moral compass. No one should have to tell us what or who is right and wrong or sway us by their judgments.
Those who feel the maximum stress from the depressing reports are the ones who aren’t able to judge for themselves. Are these reports really as depressing as they sound and do they really matter all that much?
Our meditation establishes this moral compass within us firmly. We feel positive vibrations when we get a confirmation of an act, thought or view being positive. Similarly, the built-in compass is quick to tell us when we’re wrong, or when there’s negativity around.
Having this absolute definition of right and wrong helps us make quick decisions and direct our attention to positive or constructive solutions.
4) Stop Reacting to Everything
“Call to action” it’s called by the advertising community. Or the “make it engaging” strategy of the media. An incredible number of news reports and advertisements try to urge you into reacting, offering support or some endorsement of their views, collection of your input and many times, even contributions to their cause. And these are carefully crafted to evoke your emotions to maximize their impact.
Dull and boring stuff, however true and good for you, never makes it to the news desk. Most of all, any report that people won’t care about or pay attention to will never be reported. So, inherently, you’re always at risk for whatever comes across clinging strongly to your attention and negatively affecting your emotions.
Once you realize this and resist the urge to react or get too involved in the news, you’ll keep your attention healthy.
5) Positivity Crawls while Negativity Amplifies itself Exponentially
This has been the age-old trick of negative forces. What’s odd, shocking, unusual, anger-provoking tends to catch our attention and spread rapidly. Staying firmly focused on the positivity is a must for meditators. Even when the news and situation are gloomy or negative, we must lead the way to positivity and healing. And to finding solutions that will ultimately solve the problem.
Once we adopt this attitude, we tend to brush off the negative impacts on our attention significantly. Beyond this, there are a couple of important techniques that help us. Developing compassion above all else ensures we never get caught up with negativity. And daily meditation helps clear out the negativity in our attention.
6) Stay in the Present
Thoughts reverberate and create stress when we’re directing our attention to the past or the future. If we make a conscious attempt to stay in the present and enjoy each moment of our lives, this automatically diminishes the impact of sensational news stories.
Giving 100% of our attention to the task on hand and the people around us every moment of our lives makes it richer and more fulfilling than you can imagine.