Monday, August 01, 2016

The Mind Detox Challenge

© Outdoor mural in Reykjavik. YE

Fourteen years ago I stopped watching TV. I had just moved to a new country, had to adopt living in a completely different culture, had to learn Arabic in one year so that I could attend university and basically I figured that if I were to succeed I needed all the hours of they day. When I moved into my small flat, I looked around and it became absolutely obvious – the TV was to go. The rational was simple – the TV was like comfort food for the mind. It fed you the junk that satisfies its short-term cravings, gave you an illusion refuge, while numbing your senses and flatting out your brain cells. I knew myself well enough to know that I would not be able to resist the temptation to choose the TV over some difficult Arabic lesson, so I had to throw it out. When the source of the temptation is removed, the giving into it becomes manageable. The trick worked and I never went back to watching TV and have been proudly labeling myself as a “no-TV” person.

Fast forward fourteen years, my mind has managed to trick me back big time. It has sadly become hooked to all the junk that streams from my laptop and smartphone. What is more, it curates its own junk intake. I have it all  - social media, news stream, even bloody gossip websites, which have never been of interest to me. Few months back, I started observing my Internet behavior and was sad to realize that I had given in. I was addicted. I was taking it all, while deceiving myself that I wasn’t, simply because I use the laptop for work and that somehow justifies the countless hours of pointless browsing and stuffing my mind with status updates, tweets, articles that matter little, opinions of people I have never met and would never meet, friends’ gossip, strangers’ gossip, videos, images, one link after the other until both my browsers and my brain are jam-packed.  And the work I get done – a fraction of what I am capable of.

My mind has become obese. It manifests all the symptoms of obesity – it moves slowly, it has no stamina, it has a short-attention spam, it is addicted to the junk and the more it gets the more it craves, it makes my fingers type in those websites that I had just closed 5 minutes ago, lest something so vital had happened. I know so many useless things it is depressing to even think about it.

Addiction has been one thing that I have always been very careful about. Why? Well simply because I find the idea of dependence on things repulsive and the greatest manifestation of the weakness of a human mind. My father was a cigarette addict and I grew up watching him lit one cigarette after the other without having the force to stop it. I loved my father to bits and seeing his weakness was just too painful to observe. He had to almost die to stop smoking. And just looking around there was addiction everywhere – alcohol, drugs, sex, gambling, power, name it. I did not want to depend on things, so I started consciously training my mind. So far I have been successful even if it meant that I had to throw out the TV or never keep chips, pretzels, crackers and the like in the house. But today I must admit my addiction to the Internet and all that comes with it. It eats my time, it rules my mind, it dilutes my focus, brakes my discipline and bottom line – it is just a waste of space.

Which brings me finally to the purpose of this post. Today I am starting a mind detox challenge. The challenge is very simple – I will stay away from social media sites and apps, news feeds and all the rest for a month. The trick is that I won’t be closing any of my accounts, because I believe in technology and know that its power can be harnessed for a good purpose. However, I want to have control over it rather than the other way around. I want to use purposefully and meaningfully, rather than wastefully.

To get there though, I need to first unhook myself and strengthen my mind. I spend an average 4-5 hours a day junking on the Internet (those are the good days). My goal is to replace those hours with reading (books), writing and if needed just sitting and staring in one point. I shall still use the Internet naturally but with predetermined subject at hand and only on the topic.

Thank you for stopping by and do come back whenever you feel like it. Here I shall record my mind detoxing journey every day until the job is done.

1 comment:

Dheeru said...

Great post . Very inspiring .I realize how much time we spend on TV and Internet these days and we can totally use that time for a better purpose .

I admire your thoughts :)