Calming my ‘monkey brain’…..
I hate that it has turned me into Pavlov’s dog every time I get an ‘alert’ that I have an email or a text. I pounce on that phone like it’s a life raft and I’m drowning. I use ‘work’ as an excuse for having the phone with me at all times. What if there is an important email that I need to see immediately? That happens approximately…um…never. Checking email once or twice a day would keep me completely in the work loop.
Here’s the dirty little secret that I had to face: most of the mails I get are Facebook notifications. Worse than that, I have numerous Facebook pages; one personal and 3 for my job. That, my friends is ENTIRELY too much Facebook. This past week I decided to take some action.
I’ve instituted “No Facebook Tuesdays”. One day a week when I must stay completely off all of my Facebook accounts and I’ll tell you why. While FB can be kind of fun and a great way to re-connect with old friends (which is what my ‘personal’ FB consists of; people that I actually KNOW), the other ones tend to suck an inordinate amount of my time.
I’m compelled to read the posts and comment. I’m compelled to update my status updates several times a day and comment. Then, I find myself in “discussions” (arguments) with people I don’t know, over subjects that I really don’t care all that much about. Does that sound healthy and productive? Didn’t think so.
I’m reading a wonderful book by Buddhist nun, Pema Chodron called “Living Beautifully With Uncertainty and Change”. It’s part of my continuing work on leaving behind my compulsions, ego and tendency to worry everything to death. I love the Buddhist concept of impermanence; that nothing stays the same, that we really don’t ever have solid ground under our feet and if we accept that and forget about trying to control the uncontrollable, we will eventually awaken to the reality of our true selves and our true lives.
The first step on this path is to let go of the need to be ‘right’; the compulsion to assert our ego into everything. To develop the ability to quell our desire to comment and opine on every issue. That’s hard for me. Facebook is one big, fat stew of comments, opinions, rants, fights, disagreements and screaming egos demanding to be heard and affirmed. Blech.
And don’t think this is an indictment of everyone but me; it’s not. I find myself reading or listening to something that moves me and the first thought that pops into my mind is that I need to post it on Facebook. Really? I can’t just own it for myself and enjoy the moment and the emotions that I’m feeling? I have to show everyone that I found something they need to consume. And yes, I will post this blog on Facebook. I’m not fully enlightened after all.
After my first “No Facebook Tuesday”, I noticed the amount of emails dropped considerably, meaning that the number of times I pounced on my smart phone was greatly lessened. I was able to live my real life. I was more focused and present for my morning radio show. I read a great book, with no dinging interruptions, cooked a couple of meals, talked to my husband, meditated, went about my daily business with my eyes forward, rather than looking down at the glowing screen.
Quite a lesson learned in a 24 hour period. The bottom line is that Facebook isn’t the problem. I am the problem. I allow my monkey brain to take over my life. I must comment, I must opine, I must win this argument, I must plan and analyze and prepare for every eventuality. And then, if anyone disagrees or challenges me, I MUST respond.
Buddhism is a way for me to dampen these compulsions; to quiet the monkey brain. To allow life to unfold; to come to me as it will, minus my white knuckle grip on control. This is truth for me. The only thing I can control is me and my reactions to whatever plops in front of me. I am choosing contemplation and meditation over confrontation these days. It’s hard, but I am gaining a sense of clarity and lightness that has been missing for years.