Reading the news these days can feel like a big whack in the head. Stunned and overwhelmed with so much negative information, your productive focus starts to dissipate. You feel less energetic. Your mind is left racing and your body in a slight panic — and you’ve got a whole list of things to do.
These days it’s easy to get caught up in CNN and the latest executive orders. It’s overwhelming. The news today is not only shocking, it’s anxiety provoking and energy zapping.
Social media can also magnify our stress. Many of us fall prey to it’s addicting force. Before we know it, we’ve just spent 2 hours on Facebook — and what good actually came of that?
It’s easy to waste precious hours and our vital life force in front of our newsfeed. We all know the angst of spending too much time on the internet. Of feeling distracted, irritated and distraught by what we read and consume. Yes, it’s important to be aware and to be engaged, but at what cost?
How can keep our focus while being aware of what’s happening politically?
How do we garner ourselves and find the energy we need to skillfully respond to conflict and handle the weight of our everyday responsibilities?
It is possible, through mindfulness, to contain our life force. This means being vigilant, especially with our attention. The practice of mindfulness allows us to constantly aware our own thoughts, emotions and feelings in the present moment. This continuous awareness helps us to stay anchored in our center and not get swept away and influenced by everything that’s swirling around us.
Reclaim your attention and energy with this 3-Step mindfulness reading practice:
Before reading the news, focus on taking 3–5 slow deep breaths. Relax your body. Ground yourself like a big tree with deep roots moving into the Earth. Find your center with each breath. Become grounded and centered. Gather all of your attention into your body and into the present moment. Again, visualize the tree, stable and rooted.
2. Set an Intention.
Before opening USA Today or FaceBook, think about why you’re reading news and how much time you want to spend reading, posting or engaging. Decide how you want to relate to the news and in a way that would best serve you. For example, tell yourself, “I’ll spend 5–10 minutes now reading the news.” By setting an intention, you set a healthy boundary and limit your time on your newsfeed.
3. Stay Mindful.
As you’re reading the news, pay close attention to your breath, your body and your emotions. Do you notice inner-gripping? What about your emotional state? See if your breath becomes shallow and tense. Become aware of your body and how you feel. Observe what you’re fully experiencing without judgment. Pay close attention to your inner-state as you read the news.
Ask yourself questions these questions:
1) Am I getting lost in the news?
2) What skillful action can I take now?
3) What would be conducive for my time and energy in respect to myself and the whole?
Tracking your breath, body and emotions will help you raise self-awareness, which in turn will allow you to choose more consciously how you spend your time and energy. With so much noise and negativity flying around, it’s essential to do what we can to stay centered and calm. It’s from that place of calm center that we can most skillfully respond to our environment and what’s truly needed.
We cannot afford to be distracted or scattered. It’s vitally important to cultivate clarity and focus in times of global conflict and challenge. Begin your day with a simple practice of mindfulness. Choose how you want to spend your time and attention. Direct your own energy instead of being directed by outer influences.
Remember this 3-step mindful reading practice and experience the lasting benefits of being clear, whole and focused.
First published on thriveglobal.com.