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Why the stories we tell and listen to matter

Hello on another beautiful spring day in Cambridge!

As graduation day gets closer, I’ve been thinking more explicitly about what kind of world our children are going to enter.

How do we make sense of the violence and injustice and also make space for the wonder and beauty? If you’ve heard me ask these questions before, that’s because they’re life-long questions for me, always at the center of what I do, as a mother, an activist, a coach, teacher and writer.

I think it’s our human challenge and responsibility to ask these questions and show up fully for the world.

But how to do that without getting overwhelmed or without tipping the see-saw to one side or the other?

And how do we manage our consumption of the media, which often has not interest in balance, but instead wants to be as sensational as possible?

The question for me is not: how much do I want to know, but where can my knowledge translate into positive good?

I wrote about how more mindful media consumption is an important part of this equation in a recent article for  Spirituality and Health Magazine.

Here is a section of that essay:

Thich Nhat Hanh’s fifth mindfulness training, loosely aligned with the fifth Buddhist precept against con- sumption of alcohol, makes clear that we consume not only food, but also all things that come into our senses and our consciousness. Certain “TV programs, magazines, books, and conversations,” the mindfulness training reminds us, also have “toxins” that we can avoid. Top of that list should be breaking news. Studies about mirror neurons show that the same part our brain lights up when we witness an event as when we perform the event itself. Studies have even shown that just thinking about exercise every day can help build muscle mass. So it’s not surprising that when we consume stressful media, we experience stress in our bodies, and the stress ripples through society.
Though we may feel that keeping up with the news helps us counteract the dangerous things we read about, I think it has the opposite effect, increasing our own fear and stress levels so that we are less able to be peacefully in ourselves or with others. Though knowledge can be power, passive media consumption is not power.

You can read the full article here.

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