how do you know what you know?
“People say believe half of what you see
Son, and none of what you hear…”
~ Marvin Gaye (or Edgar Allen Poe, or Ben Franklin, depending on who you ask)
I recently posted this question on Facebook, regarding a thought I had been chewing on for a while:
"In the interest of the balance between staying informed and staying sane, consider this spectrum: on the one end is turning off all input- 'news', social media, conversations. On the other is opening yourself to every source of information available. Which is, of course, not humanly possible (yet). Which means you are choosing which input you allow in, and from which sources this input arrives. So, what criteria determines those choices? And why? Of all the possible options (including those not delivered via media), why do you rely on the sources you've chosen and deemed trustworthy enough to guide your responses? This is an honest curious inquiry."
I had hoped that by clarifying "including those not delivered via media" I would be widening the scope of possible answers.
Still, just about every single person who responded (and I appreciated that people did respond!) referred to some news or other media source.
But, of course, you say. Where else would information come from? Even if from other people, they're getting what they heard from the news.
I'm wondering if I would have received different responses were there not so much, um, news in the news right now.
Because what's happening in the news is not all that's happening in the world. Or even in your own experience. Nothing in daily life has been changed directly for most of us, and yet, the ideas about these things are dominating and influencing our minds, hearts, dialogues, relationships, and even health.
I'm pondering this from the perspective of a health care practitioner; one who is always asking which influences have bearing on our well-being - diet, movement, relationships, life circumstances. What is creating unhealthy stress loads for the body and mind?
I think most people would say that they choose to stay informed to feel more empowered. (Though, ironically, most of the people who responded suggested that they felt more discouraged over finding their trusted news sources proving to be less than trustworthy...).
But to turn it all off is to be irresponsible, ignorant, or simply out of touch.
What I was hoping to get at with my question (and this post) were these points:
1) You make choices every day - every minute, really - about your input. The scenario I offered was the spectrum between blocking off everything and taking in all of it. Somewhere in between those, you (me, everyone) make choices about what you tune into: which channels you watch, which articles you read, which people you talk to. Given all the possibilities, of course you have to make choices. But I think remembering that you are, in fact, making those choices, and then exploring why those as opposed to others is good information to have.
Knowing that you make choices, and why, is empowering, because it places you in the position of 'proactive'.
2) Input comes from sources other than news. And people talking about the news. I know that seems obvious, but I think we could all use the reminder that there is more reality than what the media preoccupies us with. More reality in the hearts of those we agree and disagree with, more in the world, more in nature - more in this very precious moment. What does your body know to be true? Ask it. And your heart? And your spirit? As George Fox would implore, "What canst thou say?"
Balance the input coming from all of reality in as much as you can apprehend it in this moment. Trying to take it all in and then respond appropriately is not humanly possible. We were designed to be problem-solvers, but not designed for this many problems to solve to come into our awareness. Choose what you can handle from a place of groundedness, rather than overwhelm. Respecting the limitations of the design and saying no when the limits have been reached is not being irresponsible. We've been sold a bill of goods that we should be able to handle it all. (And then we're sold the tools to handle it. "Bullshit! I say!" :)
Three tools that may help:
1) In qigong, we practice a posture called wu chi - that is, standing in a state of relaxed readiness. We find our center and our footing first, relax into a state of balance, meaning no unnecessary tension is used to hold yourself up. Unnecessary tension keeps us from feeling what's happening in and around our bodies. Then, try to find the feeling the buoyancy and resilience of your tissues and muscles supporting you from the inside. You can read more here.
2) The first two compelling questions that Byron Katie, author of "Loving What Is: Four Questions That Can Change Your Life" encourages us to askwhenever we are struggling with thoughts that are churning us up inside are, "Is this true?" and, "How can I know for sure that it's true?" (See more of Byron's 'The Work' here.)
Somehow, just asking these questions can be enough to place us in a more objective relationship with those thoughts and feelings that are overwhelming us.
3) Ecopsychologist and author Michael J Cohen, PhD has created an entire graduate program to help us left-brained humans reconnect intellectually and psychologically with nature. Here is a basic sample exercise (and don't knock it till you've tried it!) to help you remember this inherent source of information available to you: http://www.ecopsych.com/giftearthday1.html
Lastly, I would suggest gently but honestly asking yourself what is at the heart of your need to 'stay informed'.
What are your broader intentions - how will this information help you in your life? How will it serve you so you may serve others? How can you stay informed in such a way as to maintain your footing, your connection to your life force, while also honoring your other input avenues - your heart, your gut, your backyard, your Source?
At which point do you allow one source to override the others, and why?
May we all lift each other up, be lifted up by all that is around us, and together, find truth.