Social Media, Silence, Enlightenment

Stillness.jpg
Stillness

I struggle with social media, as I think is the case for many introverts.

It is hard to balance the idea of connecting to people with the very real exposure that social media forces upon us. I ran into this just the other day when I had someone comment on a post that I “liked.” I did not share this post, but I liked it in passing; an action that was then published on my friends’ newsfeeds, upsetting, I am sure, more than the one person that commented.

Because, as is the case for many, our “friends” list is a mixture of family, friends, coworkers, and acquaintances, some of which, or many of which, do not share the same ideologies. This is the same in life, but, at least in the Pacific Northwest, rarely do these differences come to a point of contention, because they are not called out on, or addressed.

(an argument for or against that particular tendency can wait for another day)

Social media makes it easy to get offended at these differences.

For me, these flashes of contention make it hard to be on social media and I have, in the past, disabled my facebook account because of the exposure and the intense spotlight that occasionally occurs.

Sometimes it is just good to take a break.

But.

Enter my contemplation on silence.

Social media is the antithesis of silence. It is information and talking and interacting all the time. Even if I am not the one engaged in a conversation or a comment, my interaction is in the way I scroll through the posts and have thoughts on them.

It is not silent.

As such, I have contemplated giving up social media for good. And not only social media, but also severely limiting my online presence in general. I am a news junky. Every morning I read the NY Times and the Washington Post. Every morning. But again, in these times especially, the content is hardly silencing.

I am on word press. Writing. Communicating.

Not silencing.

Yet.

Yet.

There is always a yet, because the purpose of finding silence is to create stillness. The purpose of stillness is to unhook the identity of self in such a way to open up space for contemplation, compassion, and kindness.  The purpose of creating a space for contemplation, compassion, and kindness is to selflessly bring joy to the world.

What better way to bring joy to the world than to use social media?

I am not there.

Studying the concept of bodhicitta, a mind of enlightenment motivated by compassion for sentient beings, encourages me.  It is a brave, beautiful concept that requires a great deal of “rethinking” and adjusting.

What does it mean to be selfishly selfless?

What does it mean to truly have compassion for every sentient being… even those we vehemently disagree with?

And how do we go about making changes that will increase our capacity for compassion?

A first step is understanding that we are responsible for the way we see and interact with the world. I — not my family, friends, or acquaintances — am the reason I am WHO I am, and I am WHERE I am.

I am in control.

Of all of it.

No one else is able to influence me, change me, or manipulate me, unless I allow them to. Including those on social media. In the news. The driver that cuts me off. The family member that seeks to control. The friend who snubs.

How do I react to these things?

How do you react?

That is the secret. The piece of wisdom.

It is all in how we CHOOSE to react.

Pema Chodron says: “we can let the circumstances of our lives harden us so that we become increasingly resentful and afraid, or we can let them soften us and make us kinder and more open to what scares us. We always have this choice.”

Back to social media: it is no different. I follow silence down a path towards stillness in an attempt to find enlightenment so that I may be bring joy/light/compassion to living beings.

I can CHOOSE to use social media as a vehicle for my goal towards bringing joy/light/compassion.

Or I can see it as a hindrance.

But it is up to me.

This line of thought, of course, leads in a wandering way towards the entire concept of life.

What do we choose to interact with and why?

Who do we choose to interact with and why?

And in these decisions, where are the obstacles? The hindrances?

How I view social media and an internet presence, and the distraction that it causes, are all hurdles in this chosen path of mine.

How then, do I address them moving forward?

And you, dear readers, what challenges do you face?And how do you CHOOSE to react to them.

Until next time: may you find joy.

Where Are Your Demons?

Abyss
Abyss

*Note…after I wrote this, my son woke up. With blankies and his juice, he curled up at my side and we sat together in the silence of the house. Lying his head on my shoulder, he said “love you, mom,” and in that moment, there was not a single black ooze in sight. He reminds me almost every day that amidst the darkness is a light so pure as to burn the rest away…and it doesn’t even matter if it is only for a little while.

Something to be pondered for later. For now… the demons:

This is the Way the Morning Arrived

What is your capacity for kindness?

Are you kind to strangers? To people that you know? Coworkers? Family?

Are you kind to yourself?

I have lost my capacity for kindness. I am not sure where it went or when it went, but the soul-kind has left the building. I’m not saying I am a terrible person to people (though I do have that ability), but rather that the underlying kind is gone.

I used to be nice.

Maybe.

Was there a time I did not see the dark in everything that goes on around me?

Perhaps there was a time that not everything was met with a snarky thought or an awareness of banality. I am not talking about truth, in all of its variable and changing versions, but a kind of permeation that saturates everything with insincerity and surface application.

I have done so much to tackle and try to tame the beast that is my personality and depression. I have books and books on spiritual Christain, Jew and Muslin thought. On yoga. On meditation. Mindfulness. I have worked with people on how to be nicer. I have stood in a Tree Pose. I have prayed. I have meditated.

I have worked on how to see the world with a glow rather than with a black that drips from everything in a slow ooze.

I sound like an angsty teenager.

Have I never grown up?

Lost.

Somewhere.

I am not sure where.

Why do I bring this up today?

A couple of things.

First. I was a complete and terrible human being to my husband this morning. I had dreams all night about him and his mum going off on me ala what happened this summer when we visited her for two weeks. I won’t go into the details, but suffice to say that those masks I talked about, well mine was forced onto my face whilst kicking and screaming. It took me months after we returned to even be somewhat okay, and apparently I am not okay if last night’s dreams are any indication.

Second. I went on and did my usual peruse of wordpress, twitter, facebook etc. and there were so many quotes from Buddha, Thich Nhat Hanh, and Jesus that I shut my computer with a slam. Quotes about the way we think is the way we are. Quotes about filling every step with peace, love, and joy.

All of those things that sound wonderful, that people subscribe to, that I have subscribed to on numerous occasions… but yet have not done a damn thing to disappear the darkness that I see every damn day.

I know, and I have worked, and I have meditated on my way of thinking. I have worked to change the negative to positive. I have tried, so very, very hard to create a positive outlook.

And I can’t do it.

I would like to think that once upon a time I was kind.

The way we think is the way we are.

I would like to think that once upon a time I had ability to see pureness in people.

The way we are.

Demons. Dark. Deep.

They can’t be pulled out with a tweezer of thought.

They are embedded.

They have taken life times to create chasms.

They are not eradicated by a thought.

Where do we go from here?