Just turn away… (the Social Media Sutra, part 3)

In a collection of posts I’m explaining, utilizing teachings from the early Buddhist teachings, how we are able to free ourselves from dependancy to social media. These teachings are discovered within the Vitakkasanthana Sutta, which outlines 5 methods for overcoming compelling trains of thought and the urges that accompany them.

Within the first talk we seemed on the software of turning our consideration to one thing skillful. Within the second talk we seemed on the software of seeing the drawbacks of obsession.

One factor I ought to level out is that the Buddha’s recommendation is to work by means of these instruments so as. If redirecting the thoughts to what’s optimistic doesn’t work for us, then we strive seeing the drawbacks of dependancy. And if that doesn’t work, we strive the subsequent software, which is the place we merely “ignore and neglect” no matter it’s we’re obsessed by. That’s the software we’re exploring at the moment.

The Buddha’s Recommendation

The discourse could be very temporary the place it involves this software. It simply says that if, within the thoughts of a practitioner:

dangerous, unskillful ideas related with want, hate, and delusion hold arising they need to ignore and neglect about them.

You may effectively be pondering, “simpler mentioned than finished”!

The Illustration

The illustration of this precept isn’t very useful both!

Suppose there was an individual with good eyesight, and a few undesirable sights got here into their vary of imaginative and prescient. They’d simply shut their eyes or look away.

That in all probability sounds virtually simplistic. As we glance into it, nonetheless, I feel you’ll see that it’s really very sensible and helpful recommendation.

Two Instructions for Observe

We’re going to take a look at this in two areas. First we’ll have a look at the sphere of exterior exercise. We’ll have a look at how we are able to actually ignore and look away from social media by altering our habits.

Subsequent, after we’ll have a look at the sphere of inner exercise — how we relate to our expertise. And on this second sphere I feel there are some deep implications for a way we habitually use our consideration.

A quite simple shift in the way in which we discover our expertise can have a powerfully reworking impact on our degree of wellbeing.

The First Precept of “Ignoring”: Out of Sight, Out of Thoughts

So first, right here’s some very sensible recommendation for managing your consideration.

Let’s say, for instance, that you simply wished to shed weight, however had an issue with consuming potato chips. If in case you have an enormous bag of them in the home, you’re more likely to finish up pigging out. So it’s useful in the event you can’t bodily see the meals that you simply crave. To some extent it’s actually true that “out of sight is out of thoughts” — one thing this instance illustrates. And whenever you’re within the grocery store, don’t stroll down the chip aisle. Shrink back whenever you stroll by it.

Now the identical precept applies to our on-line addictions. Our essential route into these these days is thru these magic glass rectangles that we use to look at TV exhibits, to get journey instructions, to play video games, do our banking, search for a mate, do work, text-message our family and friends — and, after all, browse social media.

These units are so helpful that we stock them with us in every single place. Because of this we’re at all times within the presence of temptation.

So it’s helpful to have your telephone out of sight and out of thoughts, at the very least a number of the time.

Create Area Between You and Your Cellphone

Top-of-the-line issues you are able to do for your self is to not have your telephone at your bedside at evening. If that’s the place you cost your telephone then your dependancy goes to be the very first thing you feed whenever you get up. Your telephone goes to be there very first thing within the morning, and even in the event you get up in the course of the evening. So strive charging your telephone on the different finish of the home.

You is perhaps saying, “However I would like my telephone beside me at evening in order that I do know what time it’s!”

If that’s the case, let me remind you of an historic expertise referred to as the “alarm clock.” As with a telephone, you may program an alarm clock to wake you up. However you may’t learn Fb on an alarm clock.

If you cost your telephone in one other room, you’ll get up and never have immediate entry to the web. That provides you a chance to start out your day free from dependancy. And the way in which we begin the day typically situations how we stay throughout the remainder of the day.

One additional step relating to telephones is to turn them off after we cost them in a single day. We’re naturally lazy! The truth that your telephone takes a minute or so in addition up takes benefit of that laziness. It creates a little bit of a barrier between you and the web. And that barrier makes it simpler so that you can keep away from dependancy. Out of sight, out of thoughts.

Studying to Learn Once more

I discover that once I cost my telephone in the lounge, I’m extra more likely to meditate or to learn a Dharma ebook very first thing within the morning, moderately than studying the information or seeing what’s happening on Twitter. It is a nice approach to begin the day.

I discover that studying a ebook very first thing within the morning is way more healthy than logging on. I feel most of us have had the expertise of discovering it tougher to learn books as a result of we’ve spent a lot time studying quick posts and articles on-line. Studying books helps practice the thoughts to change into absorbed and develop focus. And books — bodily ones, anyway — don’t have hyperlinks. I desire to learn paper books for that purpose. Moreover Dharma books (or any sort of private improvement ebook) nourish the thoughts in ways in which not often occurs on-line.

Create Rituals of Web-Free Time

You may create different alternatives to have telephone — and web — free time. If you’re having a meal with household or pals you may mute your telephone or put it someplace out of sight. I’ve heard of individuals placing their telephones in a pile on the desk in a restaurant, and if anybody touches their telephone in the course of the meal they need to pay for everybody’s meals. I feel that’s an excellent thought.

Meditation retreats are additionally a superb alternative to relearn that we don’t should be on-line to be blissful — and actually that we’re happier after we’re offline, and current with our direct expertise. On some retreats it’s a must to hand in your telephone for the period. But when that doesn’t occur you may go away your telephone in your automobile, or switched off and on the backside of your suitcase. You would even put your telephone in a sealed envelope, which creates an additional barrier in case you get tempted to change it on. And you may write some sort of encouraging message on the surface of the envelope, like “simplicity and presence.“

So these are all quite simple and sensible methods we are able to, within the phrases of the Vitakkasanthana Sutta, “look away” from our telephones or “have our eyes closed” to them.

So that is all to do with the surface world.

However I mentioned that there’s something we are able to do internally that helps us to keep away from getting caught up in and pushed by ideas about our addictions — that sudden want to choose up our telephone and log on. It is a deeper degree of observe, and what I’m going to inform you may even change the way in which you meditate.

The Interior Work of “Ignoring” Social Media

What I’d like to clarify is that there are two ways in which we are able to concentrate with the eyes. The primary is the place we’re conscious of and focused on the point of interest of our visible discipline. That is our regular means of seeing, and also you’re in all probability doing that proper now. You’re in all probability primarily conscious of the display screen in entrance of you, or of me, or my face, and even simply part of my face. Usually after we’re listening to somebody we concentrate on the triangle made by the eyes and the mouth. This manner of seeing is sort of a flashlight. It’s a slender beam of consideration. It focuses on what appears most important, however it additionally misses so much.

The opposite means of seeing is the place we’re conscious of the entire of our visible discipline. We don’t do that by shifting the eyes round. We merely let the muscle groups across the eyes calm down, and let the main target within the eyes be mushy. Attempt doing that proper now.

As soon as we’ve finished that we discover that we may be conscious, in a really relaxed means, of every little thing that’s arising visually, from the very mushy focus on the heart of our visible discipline, proper as much as the corners of our eyes. This manner of seeing is sort of a lamp. It illuminates many issues. It’s much less directional and extra open than a flashlight.

So in the event you’re doing that proper now, you may nonetheless pay attention to the display screen in entrance of you, letting it’s a mushy point of interest, however you too can pay attention to every little thing across the display screen.

It is a means of seeing that encourage you to play with. You in all probability can’t learn whereas seeing on this means, however strive doing it whilst you’re strolling, or having a dialog with somebody.

Usually after we calm down the eyes on this means, we discover that the physique begins to calm down and the thoughts begins to calm.

Two Methods of Observing Internally

Apparently, the way in which we use the eyes impacts the way in which we understand internally as effectively.

So in meditation, when the eyes are tight and narrowly centered, then our interior discipline of consideration can also be slender. When the eyes are tight we are able to solely pay attention to a small vary of inner sensations.

Possibly we discover only one small part of the respiration, for instance. And the issue is that we get bored as a result of we’re not giving the thoughts a lot to pay attention to. After which alongside comes a thought. Possibly it’s an emotionally loaded one. What occurs? The flashlight beam of our consideration shifts to the thought, and the story it accommodates. Now we’re utterly misplaced in a distracted practice of thought. And our meditation can go on like this for a very long time. We alternate shining the flashlight of our consideration on a small vary of bodily sensations, after which shift to distracted ideas. And this swap retains taking place.

However when the eyes are mushy, our consideration is sort of a gently glowing lamp. We’re ready to pay attention to many sensations within the physique. We will pay attention to the inhaling the entire physique, for instance. So now there’s so much for us to pay attention to, and the thoughts is extra nourished.

And when a thought arises, it’s now only one small part of an enormous, open discipline of consideration. And due to that the thought can merely go by means of the thoughts. We don’t resist it. We’re not drawn into it. We simply don’t pay any explicit consideration to it.

So this brings us again to the subject of ignoring and forgetting about compelling ideas.

Letting Urges Come up and Move Away

We will preserve a mushy gaze, an open gaze, throughout abnormal actions. And when a thought or an urge comes up — like “I have to verify Fb RIGHT NOW” — it’s simpler simply to let that thought come up and go away with out our performing on it. Or if we’re already within the throes of on-line exercise, and we notice it’s not good for us, we are able to soften the eyes, and it turns into simpler to let go of our compulsion to remain engaged on-line. It turns into simpler to step away from the display screen or put down our telephone.

That is similar to what some folks name “urge browsing.” The thought right here is that, like waves, urges construct up and go away. When an urge is constructing the thoughts typically assumes that it’s going to get stronger and stronger till it overwhelms us, however that’s a self-fulfilling prophecy. It’s the idea that we’ll inevitably capitulate to the urge that causes us to capitulate to the urge. If we merely hold observing the urge constructing, we’ll discover that it peaks after which begins to die down once more. So that you is perhaps working, and the urge to go onto social media rises, and also you simply watch till it passes away, and then you definitely get absorbed in your work once more. Adopting an open gaze (with the resultant open and expansive discipline of interior consideration) will assist us as we do that.

So this concept of ignoring and forgetting about unskillful ideas and urges might sound simplistic and even a bit lame, however it’s really very deep.


So what have we realized at the moment? We’ve seen that we are able to scale back our possibilities of distracting ourselves with social media if we:

  • Make it tougher to entry our telephones,
  • Be sure that they’re not proper by us after we get up,
  • Change them off in a single day in order that there’s extra of a barrier to accessing the web, and
  • Evolve rituals the place we eat meals or spend time with family and friends undisturbed by our expertise.

In brief, we are able to strategically create oases of addiction-free sensory actuality.

And we’ve seen {that a} slight shift in the way in which we relate to our eyes can create a way of psychological area by which ideas can come up and go away with out our getting caught up in them. We actually can merely ignore and neglect in regards to the ideas and impulses that hold us hooked on social media. We will surf our urges, realizing that they’re impermanent, and that they come up and go away on their very own.  In all these methods we are able to start to let go free ourselves from addictive patterns of thought and habits.

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