Turning off the news is a spiritual discipline


The idea of discipline, any kind of discipline, has a harsh feel to it. It sounds like something we have to do. Something that precludes fun. But there are aspects to spiritual discipline that are essential to keep us in joy, even in these times of fear and despair.

I was listening to a podcast recently where Krista Tippett referred to the practice of ‘limiting what we take in’ as a kind of spiritual discipline.

In the age of round-the-clock news cycles and social media and a news-media complex fed by tragic and disturbing mega-drama, it can be easy to fall into a habit of consuming this stuff without limit. We get pulled in by the shocking details, or we become convinced that consuming the negative news is the way we must prove we care what’s happening in the world.

But, I have to agree that no matter how seriously we must take what is happening in the world around us, (And agreed, there is some serious and terrible stuff!), we must also recognise that this is not the whole story. This is not the sum-total of what is happening in the world. This is not necessarily ‘the news’.

There are so many stories we can also choose to focus our attention on, both in our community and in the wider world. Stories of helping and healing. Of creativity and innovation and joy.

To be vigilant about what we allow into our lives, what we turn our attention towards, what we give our life-force energy to…this is a spiritual practice. And in our world, it seems one we must continually re-evaluate and re-commit to practice.

We tend to think of our personal spiritual practice in terms of meditation, of practicing certain rituals, of prayer or communion with the natural world, with the search for the divine.

And yet the spiritual life also must involve the smaller, more mundane aspects of life. Who we surround ourselves with. How we spend our days. How we speak to others (and to ourselves). What we allow into the sacred space of our lives… So that we have time and room for the joy to come in.

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