Personal opinion by Robin Youngson:
It pays to listen to our bodies. Picture this: I’m doing my morning meditation and the stress starts to fall from my body. Tense muscles in my neck and shoulders start to relax, the pressure in my eyes abates, my breathing and pulse slow. This is a relaxation response, great for our physical and emotional health.
Then I practice anti-meditation: within twenty minutes all my good work is undone. My muscles tighten, my chest constricts, my pulse increases and a tension headache begins to grow.
What was my anti-meditation? I read the daily news online. Yup, all the benefits of my morning meditation were cancelled out.
‘Meditation’ + ‘anti-meditation’ = ‘nothing’.
It’s about time we recognised just how toxic is our daily exposure to mainstream news media.
Reading the daily news is anti-meditation.
The news media portrays an extremely biased view of the world. We are fed a constant diet of fear, violence, intolerance, crime, oppositional politics, and constant exhortations to ‘get ahead’ – whether it’s the latest business news, rich list, or celebrity stories that make us feel ugly and inadequate.
Gandhi said, ‘The enemy is fear. We think is it hate; but, it is fear.’
The mainstream media is owned by corporations who have a vested interest in keeping us feeling fearful, insecure, inadequate and always wanting more – more money, more goods, more protection. It’s a toxic diet of untruths.
Contrary to widespread belief, the world has never been a safer or less violent place. The last twenty years have seen in a substantial fall in homicides, violence against women and children, wars, and genocide. At the same time there’s been a widespread rise in democracy.
I always felt it was my duty to be well-informed, to know what was happening in the world, to make informed choices about the politics I supported – so I avidly read the daily news.
But now I’ve come to the conclusion that the mainstream news media is the most unreliable source of information to guide my choices. And I have no desire to engage in the increasingly extreme and oppositional politics portrayed by our media – it’s not a route to a better world.
I already know what the world’s problems are – mass poverty, climate crisis, wealth inequality, and unsustainable growth. Reading the mainstream news gives me nothing except anger, stress and a sense of hopelessness.
So I decided to quit reading and watching the daily news. The wisdom of my body told me what I had to do. There was little point investing my time in meditation if my daily exposure to the news media was going to undo all the benefit.
Now I choose to access the alternative media, which tells a more realistic story of what’s happening in the world. How the natural compassion, courage, and generosity of people is what really happens in our communities. How we already have answers to our most pressing problems. How people are already working together to build a better world. The moment we start believing in those things is the moment the corporations start to lose their power. Our first step is to quit our daily habit of anti-meditation.
Want something to read while you’re having breakfast? Here’s some sources of positive and nourishing news that I appreciate:
- YES! Magazine
- The Optimist
- Greater Good. The Science of a Meaningful Life
- The Charter for Compassion