I was on a Reading Deprivation mode this week- no reading, no watching, no podcasts, no internet searching and no social media streaming.
Reading Deprivation is one of the exercises suggested by Julia Cameron in the book The Artist’s Way. First published in 1992, the book has become an international best-seller helping millions of people unblock their creativity through a 12-week program.
Getting in Reading Deprivation mode was hard especially that my day was filled with information consumption. I read a book upon waking during my morning toilet ritual. I listen to podcast during my morning bath. I read a book for 30-60 minutes before my morning nap. I listen to podcast during my evening bath. I read a book or watch a movie for at least 30 minutes before sleeping. And oh… let’s not forget the random bits of social media streaming and internet search throughout the day.
I was committed in doing this exercise so, I thought of alternative activities. I replaced my morning toilet reading with staring at the wall [Haha!] while taking notice of how I felt while p**ping. I replaced my other reading sessions with other activities such as cooking, painting and writing. My notebook and pencil were my new best buddies. I wrote down whatever I was thinking- ideas for my blog, dishes to cook, experimental recipes, grocery list and household to dos.
There were a few times when I slipped. And upon realizing that I did, I stop what I was consuming and thought of alternative activities such as bugging Nicole [Haha!]
Towards the end of my Reading Deprivation week, I never thought that I would have these (3) realizations:
1) Be Deliberate.
Informative activities such as reading and listening to podcasts may turn into escapism when done in excess. Taking them out of my routine, made me realized that I used them to keep me occupied. I lost sight of my objectives of learning, reflecting and taking actions on the lessons I get from books and podcasts. Instead, information became the noise that kept me from being bored.
The same goes for internet searching and social media streaming which I use as form of distractions. Want to take a break from writing? Wandering what to do after eating? Nothing to do before sleeping? The easy default was to get my mobile phone and click Facebook, Instagram or Google.
Innately, there is nothing wrong in consuming information. It only becomes distractive when used use it in excess – as a distraction to keep up from being bores, to keep us busy or to avoid doing the ‘work.’
I am now the gates of information back to my life after a week of detox. Just like how I control the food I eat, I need to be deliberate on the information I consume. Listening to podcast or reading a book? Set a time to do these. Take note of the lessons and apply. Watching a movie to relax or check Facebook and Instagram for updates? Set a time to do these. Make sure to follow it.
2) I Have Time.
In a span of 7 days, I have accomplished most of the ‘things I want to do but never had the time to do’ for years. I cleaned the storage of my gadgets; refreshed the wallpapers of my laptop and mobile phone; wrote down my recipes; created healthy dessert recipes, made them and ate them too; brainstormed about blog idea; entertained the thought of writing a children’s story; drew and painted over my notes on my notebook; spend a hours watercolor painting; attended Salsa and Bachata Dance classes.
Even after accomplishing all these, I still had time to do – nothing. There were times when I bugged Nicole to talk to me just because I ran out of things to do for the day. Moments when I sat down on the balcony, listen to a Spotify playlist and sang along. Moments when my mind blanked out until I started seeing what was in front of me- trees, rood, roads, people; hearing the sounds around me- crickets, birds, chicken; and feeling the breeze touch my skin.
This made me realize that: I have time to do whatever I want to do. It was simply a matter of doing them.
3) Be Grateful.
The lesser the influx of information, the lesser the kind of thoughts I get, and the more I notice that I worry- a lot.
– Was I inconsiderate to ask Tim, on the spot, if I can bring my husband to his party?
– The watercolor set I ordered online not has been delivered. Was I scammed?
– It’s Thursday and I haven’t done my weekly planning for this week. I feel so out of control of my time- so lost in my life.
Worrying produced a lot of negativity- a downward spiral of thoughts and emotions. It does not feel right and it make your feel worse.
I reflected on this earlier today and realized that the cure to worrying is gratitude. Whenever I catch myself worrying or lost in negativity, turn it the other way around- instead, look at it in a place of appreciation. How does these sound instead of their above counterparts?
– I am so happy Tim invited me to his party. I’d been waiting to get to know people in the community. Plus, he said yes in taking Nicole with me.
– Wow! I got the perfect watercolor set for a cheap price. If the couriers fails to deliver my order, I can just follow them up.
– I may missed planning for my week but, imagines all the activities I was able to do this week? I am so thankful that I spent my time doing the things I chose to do and enjoyed them!
Looking at things from a place of gratitude paints a totally different picture. It gives a feeling of positivity and lightness that propels me to move forward- stop worrying and appreciate what I have.
I never thought that the Reading Deprivation exercise would give me these profound realizations just before 2017 ends I will carry with me these (3) Mindsets: 1.) Be Deliberate 2.) I Have Time 3.) Be Grateful, as I welcome the start of a new year.
What are your key take-aways from 2017? Any lessons you will bring with you in 2018? Share them with us.