Do you need a break? Consider Vipassana?
(with the assistance of Parks and Recreation gifs)
On the forums for a writers’ group, there’s a continuous thread about time management. Recently one writer posted that he’s deactivating all social media until his comic book is finished and ready to promote. There are great things about this choice and then some not-so-great mundane things to consider.
First of all, I strongly believe in establishing work hours!
This is crucial for everyone, but obviously some jobs are worse than adhering to it than others. If you work in a store, you’re not going to clock out at 8PM, have to eat something quickly, put the kids to bed, then keep working on reports, emails, ordering, or scheduling unless you’re management.
People who work from home have an even bigger challenge in establishing work hours. Nonetheless, it should be done. Consider this, in France, it is illegal to conduct business by email after 6PM. They respect the quality of work-life balance so much they have laws about it.
Secondly, a break from the internet and social media is something everyone should do from time to time.
Your productivity will go up. Your stress will go down. The problem is, if you’re like me and appreciate being informed, you probably get a lot of global information online. Then there’s the social aspect. There are some people I only hear from via social media. We don’t text, email, or call. Traveling is cost prohibitive so that’s even more rare. I’m always afraid of missing out on (FOMO) on something that truly matters in life-changing ways.
Something to consider if you are also a brand/creator of goods, you need to always market your work online with consistency.
Let’s look at the example of the writer who deactivates social media while working on his book. When he returns to social media and begins promoting his book, people will notice. They’ll wonder where he was when they needed the favor to share their work. Maybe some of them unfollowed him because he went silent. Then he’s back online and it’s only to sell us something.
A few other people in this forum suggested he schedule a month’s worth of posts to publish so he wouldn’t need to manually take to the streams. That’s not bad, but it’s not great either. It makes the user look like a bot, only to be honest a lot of bots are programmed to engage. Scheduled posts won’t be engaging. I use scheduled posts too, but at the same time, I’m available for replying if someone responds or makes a comment.
What is Vipassana and how does it apply to daily life?
Typically, vipassana meditation is a silent retreat where participants follow a program and strict code of rules. It probably sounds scarier than it is. I’ve never personally done one. Vipassana recently became newsworthy in mainstream media when Twitter’s CEO @Jack went to one and claimed he returned a changed man. Twitter users concerned about the ongoing abuse on the platform think it was more like Jack fleeing responsibilities and haven’t seen changes that were promised repeatedly.
I’m all for CEOs doing vipassana. I think there should be more workplace yoga without the commercialism (that’s the part that gets to me here in the US). Maybe Jack was moved by his vipassana. Maybe since he has the money, he’ll send others on vipassana to help them. Who knows? But if he genuinely found the experience worthwhile, I’m not going to claim he didn’t.
It’s a privilege to go away to India for ten days on a retreat. Heck, it’s a privilege to take ten days off of work and stay home. A lot of people don’t get vacation days (hello, freelancers and part-timers!) so ten days to commit to a retreat may not be something that’s even possible.
Vipassana is one of India’s most ancient meditation techniques. Long lost to humanity, it was rediscovered by Gotama the Buddha more than 2500 years ago. The word Vipassana means seeing things as they really are. It is the process of self- purification by self-observation. One begins by observing the natural breath to concentrate the mind. With a sharpened awareness one proceeds to observe the changing nature of body and mind and experiences the universal truths of impermanence, suffering and egolessness. This truth-realization by direct experience is the process of purification. The entire path (Dhamma) is a universal remedy for universal problems and has nothing to do with any organized religion or sectarianism. For this reason, it can be freely practiced by everyone, at any time, in any place, without conflict due to race, community or religion, and will prove equally beneficial to one and all. (https://www.dhamma.org/en/about/code)
Baby-Steps to a Vipassana: Social Media Silence
Whether it’s a yoga sadhana, Christian Lent, or the decision to focus on a large project deadline, people often create their own commitments to remove something from their life. This ranges from giving up caffeine and chocolate to devout renunciation of material goods.
Instead of being online, you’re going to be silent and meditate.
We learn to smell acutely, to touch fully, and to really pay attention to the changes taking place in all these experiences. We learn to listen to our own thoughts without being caught up in them. The object of Vipassana meditation practice is to learn to see the truth of impermanence, unsatisfactoriness, and selflessness of phenomena.
Giving up social media for a short amount of time is most likely going to be beneficial. Here are some suggestions for getting you there:
Don’t disappear. Let everyone know that your silence is strategically planned. This saves them from worry.
Try and get an agreement with someone to be your social liaison – someone with a lot of mutual connections. That way if something life-changing does happen they can text you directly. I missed the announcement of someone’s death last year and the part that upset me, since he had been ill for a long time, was that my condolences were so late. The algorithms showing you what the network thinks is important to you, are not your friend. You probably miss important announcements everyday anyway.
Next, choose the duration: 10, 30, 40 days, countdown to a project. Maybe you’re going to radically approach workhours and stay off social media Friday evening to Monday morning.
Delete the apps from your phones and tablets.
Write a short note to yourself to remind you why you are doing a social media vipassana.
Vipassana doesn’t mean only staying offline and mindlessly being silent. Remember this is a mindful practice. You are suppose to meditate. If that’s not possible, rather than calling it a Social Media Vipassana, refer to it as a Social Media Black Out/Hiatus/Break/Vacation. You’ll still find benefits to calming your mind from the stimuli that has been thrown at it through hours of scrolling.
All who attend a Vipassana course must conscientiously undertake the following five precepts for the duration of the course:
- to abstain from killing any being;
- to abstain from stealing;
- to abstain from all sexual activity;
- to abstain from telling lies;
- to abstain from all intoxicants.
If you don’t want to meditate, here are suggestions:
- daily walks in nature
- time with loved ones spent wisely
- learn something new
- read a book
- color/paint/art therapy
- neighborhood litter clean-up
- volunteer to walk dogs at a shelter