I decided to do a 30 day spiritual process. I have been doing the spiritual practices, but the main difference between my normal life and this retreat is that I discontinued any news media. That, and some interesting daily reflections and realizations.
Let me first address the news fast. Most people fast by not eating. I am fasting by not scrolling through any news, or listening to the radio. No NY Times. No Atlantic. No Apple News. No Google News, etc. I’m not getting dopamine hits from outrage. Every time I pay attention to news, I feel some small outrage at what is wrong with some people or institutions. That outrage is a dopamine hit in my brain. Humans like dopamine hits, and so we continue the behavior. Point: dopamine hits are not bad in themselves. We need them. But dopamine from poison or dopamine from upliftment? I’ve been getting dopamine from other sources than the news. What I’ve been thinking about, however, is the future. I’m like an addict who has been in treatment for 17 days, dry for 17 days. Will I go back to my drug of choice when I get out of treatment? Honestly, I can’t imagine life without my drug of choice. My mental feeling is better without the poison that is today’s news, but I can’t imagine living without it.
Taking the situation to a deeper level: spending time on the news, or needlessly scrolling and looking for a hit, is artificially filling the emptiness of my inner life, destroying the emptiness. As I thought this, or had this realization this morning, the emptiness of my life came into focus. My life has always been pretty empty. In America, an empty life is a stigma. We are supposed to be filling our lives, but I have been steadily emptying mine. I want to have the emptiness, not destroy it. Not only is it who I am. but it is my non-physical reality. I need it.
I lived in a monastery for nearly four years. The nuns had very empty lives compared to the non-cloistered house holder. But since their lives were overlaid with a daily schedule, a Rule and a religious profession, they didn’t really have to face emptiness. I have no overlay, no template, no title or name. I simply have an empty life.
Now that I consciously have an empty life, I am able to fully embrace it. This is the art of being myself. I find spiritual fulfillment in: emptiness? The secret of my soul is emptiness. My energy vortex contains an energy called emptiness.
“Some children may be extraordinarily happy with a single basic toy if they have been able to develop their imagination and creativity, while others will be bored by a hundred sophisticated toys if they constantly need new objects to derive pleasure from” (Happiness – a philosopher’s guide, Frederic Lenoir, page 49).