May 25, 2011

Sex, Violence and our Souls

This subject is a biggie. For me personally and, probably, globally. I can’t say that I pay close attention to what’s broadcast as news in countries outside North America or the UK. But I have a hunch it’s similar.

Because we humans are drawn to sex and violence. Everyone knows these subjects sell. I passed a poster for a blockbuster flick the other day that didn’t even try to be sly about it–the tagline was simply “Blood, sex, violence.” It showed a woman in a barely-there bikini lying on an air mattress in the ocean, hundreds of razor-toothed jaws gaping open, swimming up beneath her. We love this stuff.

And–this is likely not news to EJ readers–the sad part is that the news media companies know it. They know they need to make a buck in order to survive. They know that sex and violence sell. In my final years completing a Communications degree at Simon Fraser University we took an in-depth look at the biggest media conglomerates in North America: Viacom, Ruport Murdoch’s News Corporation, and Time Warner to name a few. We investigated their practices and their ethics. We came away feeling super riled up. Was it really all about the bottom line? What about presenting a balanced, accurate perspective? What about neutrality and objectivity? What about contributing to the world’s evolution, instead of encouraging us to remain in the dark? We were going to enter into these companies, practice honest, forthright, balanced journalism, and make changes to the world!

Some people did. Some of them still are. I’m so glad for that. I took a different route. I got sucked into the glam and pizzazz of being a VIP. Members of the media have power and influence and they’re catered to almost like movie stars. We got free trips, free clothes, perfume, passes, and our photo taken at red carpet events–so we could be swayed to write about certain things. It took me less than a year to become literally sick of this. I couldn’t sleep, couldn’t eat most foods, and couldn’t get through most weeks without a minor or major panic attack. My heart wanted to be bringing light to the world, to be helping people tap into their own shining, healthy, vibrant radiance. My mind and ego wanted to stay a VIP.

Thank the greater, good and wonder-full that my body kept sending me messages that I couldn’t ignore. On a trip I took for my 25th birthday–back to a place I’d visited every summer as a kid–I finally decided to set myself free. When I got home, I signed up for yoga teacher training, quit my job, left my relationship, and moved out on my own. I called it my quarter-life crisis. It was the best thing that ever happened to me.

I’m circling back around. There’s a saying I’m going to paraphrase here: “Don’t fight the darkness. Let in the light.” My media education and experience taught me to see the news and what we’re presented through a very critical eye. My yoga education and experience shows me the goodness, beauty, truth and strength in the world. Together, combined, they’ve given me an empowering perspective on the world: what’s presented as news is skewed to sell + there is SO MUCH GOOD in the world that goes unreported.

The first of five yogic niyamas, or recommended observances, is saucha. Today, we often translate this to either mean cleanliness or purity of mind and body. I understand the purity slant to be intended to encourage us to be conscious of how what we consume–read, watch, eat, drink–effects the health and wellness of our body and mind. I like to think of it this way: if we want to let our inner light shine out, we need to keep the channels clear. CNN or FoxNews first thing in the morning or a 20-minute sadhana (spiritual practice)? We have the choice.

I’ve heard there’s a First Nations parable that goes something like this: An elder is talking to an interviewer about how he stays calm and strong and healthy. He tells the interviewer about two dogs fighting inside him all the time–one bad, one good. The interviewer asks which dog wins. The elder replies: “The one I feed the most.”



p.s. Yup, I  completely played into this very trend with the naming of my post.

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