How the Sutras Helped Me Give Up Negative News
So much of our life can benefit from applying the teachings of Satya. In a previous blog, I described Satya as “telling the truth” or truthfulness and of course, that meaning expands as you unravel the ideas and constructs set up by Patanjali and the Sutras.
Actually, ‘sat’ literally translates into ‘true essence’. The amazing language of Sanskrit is a vibrational language where each word means much more than a label of something or someone… it is a language that actually holds the vibrational essence of the thing it describes. In that idea ‘sat’ also means ‘that which has no distortions,' no distinction of time, space, or person. ‘Sat’ really is unchangeable and pure. When analyzing the word ‘truth’ from the Sanskrit perspective, it becomes easy to see how our lives are spent not quite understanding the truth and we can end up feeling unbalanced or ungrounded in reality. Words affect us. It is amazing how becoming mindful of what we say and how we say it shapes us in profound ways.
Think about how our emotions sway and are interchangeable, yet our emotions and what we “go through” are the very things that create what we perceive as the truth of our life experience. In 2020 many of us (people I know) constructed their life experience and story out of the isolating Pandemic (of course), but also out of the ever-growing modern-day Media Bias that is inherently negative. This experience of listening has contaminated the emotional well-being of us as a people and has pushed the generally good personal choices of folks out of character. In my daily practice, I reflect on this notion and meditate on its weight in the lives of others while looking closely at the consequences as it plays on those I care about. As a scholar of art and 3 years of studying marketing, I have gained insight and can detect both the keywords and phrases that are used in repetition to gain attention. I noticed a strong pattern among networks using both bias and ultimately negative rhetoric to sell us their brand. FOX News, CNN, and MSNBC were all on my radar and ultimately I dropped watching them out of the consideration of the sutra, Pratyahara. I looked closely at how these networks and other media outlets presented their news and how in the days and months of isolation the awkward uprising of negative bias news became so prevalent and continues on. Pratyahara is another limb of the Eight Limbs of Yoga Sutras that is focused on what we consume. While it has much to do with letting go of the senses it also deals with all consumption including music, movies, gaming, social media, media, food, etc…In the practice of Pratyahara anything that is input should be considered mindfully. What we bring to our senses could be those things that bring us joy, comfort, vitality, and health along with information that is simple and balanced.
Bad news can be addictive. What I am uncomfortable with is the American Media and Social Media outlets feeding us a steady diet of negative biased news and news riddled with conspiracy theory and conflict. The media platforms here in the States are not so balanced, and according to a new study by Bruce Sacerdote, an economics professor at Dartmouth College, Americans have gotten what they asked for in terms of negative news.
“When Covid cases were rising in the U.S., the news coverage emphasized the increase. When cases were falling, the coverage instead focused on those places where cases were rising. And when vaccine research began showing positive results, the coverage downplayed it, as far as Sacerdote could tell. But he was not sure whether his perception was correct. To check, he began working with two other researchers, building a database of Covid coverage from every major network, CNN, Fox News, Politico, The New York Times, and hundreds of other sources, in the U.S. and overseas. The researchers then analyzed it with a social-science technique that classifies language as positive, neutral or negative. The results showed that Sacerdote’s instinct had been right - and not just because the pandemic has been mostly a grim story. The coverage by U.S. publications with a national audience has been much more negative than coverage by any other source that the researchers analyzed, including scientific journals, major international publications, and regional U.S. media. “The most well-read U.S. media are outliers in terms of their negativity,” Molly Cook, a co-author of the study, told me.” (New York Times, The Morning Newsletter By David Leonhardt March 24, 2021)
Americans are far more likely to open, read and watch media with a ‘bad news’ heading and content that is focused on the negative even when there is a good side to that story. And, as said in the same article If we’re constantly telling a negative story, we are not giving our audience an accurate portrait of reality. It is shaded. The issue lies in the fact that the media is actually giving the audience what it wants. In other words, the media is playing on U.S. demand.
Giving up any media is difficult…but I have found it not only refreshing, it gave me a chance to gain greater perspectives on the lives of others in a real way and perhaps helped to shape limited views on my own life and how I was raised both culturally and socially. Living a Yogic lifestyle and following the Yoga Sutras is not sedentary…it is active and reflective in each Sutra so you can find growth and gain ground outside of your comfort zone.
Perhaps this year and so following we will find more news outlets out- doing the others by becoming the balanced media we expect and deserve. For now, I don't watch much but am looking and reading from various venues to try and find that one source that doesn't care about likes and clicks but gives themselves to integrity, resourcefulness and truth.
Are you ready to replace drama and skewed media for well-balanced and fact-based outlets? If so, let me know where you go for news. Mother Jones? BBC? Who tells a balanced story in your opinion? I am in search of new outlets and organizations looking for positive change in the U.S. Media. Comment below!
Sat Nam ਸਤਿ ਨਾਮੁ