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Abstaining from Entertainment

Abstaining from Entertainment
2/14/19 12:46 AM
Hello first time here! I always wondered about this. I've been meditating consistently for 3 months now (1-2 hr a day using TMI). I find that internet browsing (youtube,music) and eating delicious food seem to hinder my practice in a way that mindfulness is disrupted during these activities. Some have said just enjoy the pleasure for now and some have said to drop it. I'm more on the "drop it" crowd. I'm wondering what you guys think of this? Should I drop these activities entirely in pursuit of stream entry?

RE: Abstaining from Entertainment
2/14/19 1:43 AM as a reply to Roger Kim.
Hi Kim,

When I was new to practice I developed an aversion to electronics and to entertainment and was quick to give away my TV.  I'd say if you have this urges early on be curious about them.  Is your aim to be Nun?  Or are you someone who wants to be mindfully engaged in the world?  for if this your intention then my advice would be keep one foot in the world at least.  Other wise this practice can literally turn you into someone you never in your wildest dreams would have imagined becoming - i.e a monastic.

If on the other hand you think the practice needs a moral code I'd examine that too.  

The thing is if you are practicing to 'be' in the world 'be' in the world, as it is easy to lose your footing, at least in my experience;  it starts with the TV and ends up close to renunciation.  And if that isnt your life plan, put the breaks on.

Hope that makes sense, only my experience tho emoticon 


RE: Abstaining from Entertainment
2/14/19 5:01 AM as a reply to Roger Kim.
Entertainment is not bad but everyhting in excess can be harmfull. Its true that we live in a society that promote entertaniment in a very high level and we all are connected to it in a some way or other.

Is interesting to see our relationship with entertainment and our attachments to it and find a healthy way to integrate this aspect of life.

If we reject entretainment and see like the "new devil" we are generating aversion to it and we are in the same spot that we are clinging to it. 

I think is more nice to change entretainment for a hobby. Also having some entretainment is good, watching a movie before sleep to time to time can be really fun and relaxing. The problem is excess, like someone that finish his work and just spend all his free time looking for entretainment, watching TV, movies, series, playing videogames, net searching etc. Is like looking to fill a void, its not healthy.

I belive in slow progresion and solid work that comes day to day. If you see yourself "trapped" in some kind of entretainment and you see that have a negative impact in your life try to transform it and make of something that you precive bad in something good! Also you can use this progress to investigate how you cling, how you fail, how you react to it etc. The process of changing and habit I think is a fascinating thing.

Also I would say if you want to do some kind of entertainment fasting I dont see bad idea, can be really good! But dont go to on extreme to another! Like black or white, try to find your mid point in this subject.

To finish think about what our old granparents did in the past when they finished work, they didnt have TV, they probably spent they free time with each other or reading or developing some hobby.

Have a good free time, peace emoticon!

RE: Abstaining from Entertainment
2/14/19 10:05 AM as a reply to Jordi.
Lots of ways to play this, obviously, but, just as one personal data point, I had no TV from 1990 until around 2009. Part of that was due to years of grad school, residency, and doctoring, but part of that was due to meditation and pursuing other hobbies (music, dance, car restoration and repair, writing), and part of that did allow for a bit more time for my relationships and real human interaction.

I found that the additional 30min-2hours per day made a huge difference in how much I got done in the margins, as those margins add up over years to something remarkable if used well.

It does mean that I catch almost no Seinfeld or other 90's to early-mid 2000's references to popular culture, as I missed most of it, but, in retrospect, that is a pretty small price to pay for what I got instead.

RE: Abstaining from Entertainment
2/14/19 12:10 PM as a reply to Roger Kim.
I think there needs to be a distinction between mediums (video, music, delicious food) and the specific content within that medium. You could make a playlist of videos on YouTube that function as dharma talks for the next thirty years or you could watch videos of street fights or fall into a hole of intentionally addictive content which never quite answers the question it offers up.

I think that if you are going to live in the world a balance would be best. I use YouTube for education, approaching debates, conversations, speeches, as a continuation of my formal education. I also go into other parts of it to keep my finger on the pulse of how pop culture and the methods of marketing and advertisting are evolving, so that I can see larger patterns. Some days I indulge more than I know is good, partly because I become unconscious of how much time I am devoting and what the opportunity cost is, but also there is an edge of wanting to touch base with the process of becoming unconscious, as well as how different content can make you feel.

To write off a medium entirely seems shortsighted to me. It’s just more grist for the mill, unless of course you are going to go into a monastic lifestyle in a formal setting or even in your home life. Periods of media fasts can be very interesting. I got my consumption so low for a period of about a year that when songs or melodies would come into my mind, they would stand out so strongly and I could almost always trace them back to their origin, (supermarket background music, or a jingle from the past, repeated so many times that it is really embedded in there) of which I was unconscious of at the time. It made me realize how sensitive I was to input, and when I came out of that place and re-joined the world, I had a greater understanding for what my true diet, food and otherwise, really was, and so I am more conscious of what I put into myself, and how the consumption relates to my output, in terms of language, perspective, intent, and action.

I have a history with some music (hyperviolent and hypersexual lyrics in music) and media (combat sports) that some here might find very difficult to see the beauty in. I think the perspective it is approached from makes all the difference. It is very difficult to explain in words what seperates the specific artists (musical or martial) or performances that I find value in from those I believe to be without merit (except perhaps as an exercise in determining what has merit), but the distinction is very clear internally. I could say the common factor is “truth” or “honesty” or “respect” or an explication of the laws of reality, but that doesn’t really help much. There is some factor or constellation of factors which can make a sanctioned fight less violent than an upbeat (but vapid) song marketed to children, but I wouldn’t bother trying to justify that thought to most people.

In short, I think you can apply mindfulness to anything, but you might find it more difficult to maintain mindfulness or you might do some backflips regarding why this certain thing isn’t worth being mindful of. I’m not trying to live a life where food is any less delicious than it can be (meaning, why limit the sensory input of food you make in order to make it some way other than what you want, than what feels natural, but also that as you reduce spices and flavoring and acclimate to blandness, you’ll probably find that food is still delicious if you aren’t consciously trying to not enjoy it). Restriction and mortification seem to happen quite naturally when they need to happen, I don’t see a need in aiming for or forcing them.