Rethinking television’s energy
By Nancy B. Loughlin
Published in News Press on May 9, 2017

During a recent sleepless night, I lunged for my drug of choice: Netflix.

At 2 a.m., I perused the streaming choices and clicked on Jurassic Park.  I saw it when it first opened in 1993, and it was undemanding.

This time, I didn’t sleep for the rest of the night because I was horrified.

To a yogi, the phrase “It’s just a movie” is a lie.

Poison or Nectar?

Everything we take in through our senses is food, either toxic or nourishing.  Our senses are our interface with the world, and, untrained, those wild horses will drag debris into our conscious and unconscious minds.

Unless the highest mind is engaged, that garbage heap will fuel and direct our decision making.

Know Thyself through Your TV

First, our media choices are our unconscious reach to fulfill a need.  Second:  Without mindfulness, we will be unaware of the data dump’s impact.

Step One: What shows are on your DVR?

For years, Law and Order: Special Victims Unit was my decompression go-to.  After a busy day, I would click on an episode and vegetate for 42 minutes. Until…

There is nothing wrong with decompressing with entertainment if it cleans and rejuvenates the mind. But, as I grew in my yoga practice, I realized these brutal tales, particularly of women, were neither cleansing nor rejuvenating. As poet Kim Addonizio has written, nothing kicks a plot into action better than a dead girl, “better than a saloon brawl, better than a factory explosion, just by lying there.”

I want to practice Jhana Yoga and fill my mind with the higher principles of living.  Law and Order: Special Victims Unit wouldn’t cut it.

Step Two:  What needs are you fulfilling?

When I dumped Law and Order (and House of Cards and Scandal and General Hospital and horror movies), I switched to what I thought were innocuous choices:  Diners, Drive-ins and Dives and CNN.

But, as I grew to know myself, I knew Triple D was my porn. I harass myself daily to eat only pure healthy food, scolding myself when I stray from my vegetarian and organic diet. But there is a neurosis, a yearning inside of me, to gorge my senses, assume the hunch, and devour greasy burgers.

I flipped to CNN.  I watched the panelists mock-devour each other, creating the illusion of a world where only two diametrically opposed positions existed, and the way to resolve disputes was to fight.

Crocodile Pose

There had to be a way to cleanse, rejuvenate and decompress without going outside of myself and without being bored.  According to Yoga Sutra 1:19, the task is to feel joy without being dependent on the sense organs or objects.

When I switched off Jurassic Park at 4 a.m., I lay on my belly.  My forearms cradled my face.  I shifted my awareness to my deep breath pressing against the floor. I actively withdrew my senses, and I mindfully engaged Steven Spielberg’s fright fest.

That T-Rex freaked me out.  It crashed through a vehicle to attack two abandoned and trapped children, only a slip of glass between the screaming kids and the animal’s jaws. And, the children’s terror didn’t stop there. How did the film address this trauma?  It didn’t.

The kids curled up next to the sweet professor on the escape helicopter in a contented sleep.  The formerly child-hating doctor found his tender side.  Smile. Credits.  These human beings, even children, were steel, untainted by trauma, and envisioned to be able to withstand any circumstance.

I don’t want those raptors running loose in my head.