I had a really interesting experience lately.
I’ve been sick for about a month. Every time I thought I was getting better a new symptom would start up. I’ve learned a TON of compassion for people who have chronic illness, and as I slowly recover I tip my hat to people who live with illness knowing they may not.
But I digress.
When I’m too sick to read (you know when your brain gets all fuzzy?), I usually watch streaming video online. I don’t have a TV and my laptop becomes my entertainment. So, basically, this last month I REALLY got my eight bucks out of Netflix. When I’m so sick I’m lying on my bed hoping for death, my favorite thing to watch are Crime Dramas and Investigative Crime shows. Netflix has a cool feature where it makes suggestions for movies and shows based on your viewing history, and after a short while the majority of suggestions were around crime and murder. Based on my viewing history suggestions and just basic slippery sloping, I moved onto Psychological Thriller movies, until finally I started watching full out Horror movies. I usually HATE Horror movies, but somehow I found myself watching them. This is where it gets bad.
I’ve always said in the past that I would be a great person to stalk because I never close my blinds or lock my doors. I just don’t think about it. But after feeding my mind on crime and murder for so long things started appearing really sinister to me. I began fearing everything from serial killers to Babylonian demons who suck the souls out of children. I mean, seriously, I was freaked out. For three days I wouldn’t enter my basement to do laundry or enter the attic to get tools. I’d ask my husband if he made sure to lock all the doors, and if I had to go somewhere I’d check the back seat of the car before I got in, STILL expecting someone to jump out at me while I was driving. I was panicked and my stomach hurt. It was a really bad three days. Joel (my husband) and I had a conversation about it, and he said “It’s all the murder you’re watching. Your subconscious mind doesn’t know the different between reality and perception. It thinks you’ve actually been watching people be killed in front of you for a week.”
Of course, he was absolutely right. I’m usually pretty thoughtful and conscientious about my choices, but having been sick I was going with the path of least resistance. I had seeded my subconscious mind with information it couldn’t really handle, and my paranoia was the consequence. I recently read a great description of the subconscious mind. Like fertile soil, it will accept any thought and nourish it. And, much like actual soil doesn’t care what kind of seed is planted – a rose, an apple tree or a weed – our subconscious mind isn’t vetting what we give it, good or bad. It’s not making evaluations. There’s no difference between “reality” and perception for the subconscious mind. It knows what most of us don’t – there’s no real duality between the two, period. Our perception IS our reality (or, as the old adage states, it defines it for us). For example, if I watch movies for a week where people are being killed senselessly, my subconscious doesn’t know it was just a movie. EVERYTHING in my world is ‘just a movie’ to my subconscious, and at the same time everything is deadly serious.
I should probably state that I don’t think Horror movies are evil. They have their place just like everything else. And, of course, we can easily consume content that is G rated and still have a similar effect. An easy example of this is news entertainment. I think of the people in my life almost addicted to the stuff, constantly watching editorial television where people bark their political position and foment conflict with anyone who dares disagree with them. Guess how these people are at the holidays? The conflict they love to watch becomes the conflict they love to engage in.
What’s the solution? Similar to realizing your diet isn’t healthy, you can’t go back and change all the crappy food you’ve been eating. You can only change your diet from this point on. You can’t unsee what you’ve seen, but you can start a diet of more mentally healthy content. A few years ago I started to see everything I eat as either medicine or poison, and making my food decisions based on this principle. (This is a bit of an oversimplification, but if you’re trying to change your diet it’s extremely effective.) I remember eating fast food for the first time since I’d changed my diet and getting really sick afterward. My body basically said, “What the hell did you just feed me? You think you’re going to get away with that?” and punished me in a number of unspeakable ways. Whereas in my early twenties I ate fast food daily and it didn’t seem to register. I’m kind of wondering if this is what happened with my mind. I’ve actually been feeding it with good stuff for so long that when I fed it Horror films it punished me, and quickly.
While I’m still on the mend and watching more content than I usually do, I’m giving my subconscious big old heaping handfuls of positivity. My most recent discovery is karmatube.com. It’s a great resource of wonderfully positive messages with a call-to-action at the end of each video. Simple things everyone can do. Here’s an example:
A film by Mike Worsman.
Video from KarmaTube
(I totally think that dude should be recognized as a tourist attraction.)
Thanks for letting me share what’s on my mind. I think I’m going to go collapse again. :p
p.s. I’m working on the third and final Rumi blog post. It’s just a little intense on my poor noggin right now. But keep your eyes peeled for that coming soon.
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