If you are familiar with the Law of Mind Action and the Law of Attraction, you know that what we think about, we experience. Being a conscious consumer of pop culture (or one who is “Pop Conscious”) means examining our choices of entertainment and mass media for how they enrich our lives ... or not.
We can do so with these three basic steps: Observe, Discern, and Choose.
While enjoying your favorite TV shows, films, music, or other entertainment, assume the role of an observer and pay attention to what you’re watching, listening to, and reading. You might think about it in terms of how someone else would see you, based on your choices.
A good tool is to examine your presets or favorites on your television, stereo, or any entertainment system. What apps dominate your phone or tablet computer? What’s the music on your playlists? Don’t forget your guilty pleasures! Look for patterns and themes. Awareness is the first step!
Discernment is one of our 12 spiritual powers as taught by Charles Fillmore, so why not use it? We can ask ourselves, “How do these shows, songs, books, make me feel?” “Does this make me think? Do I feel smarter afterward?”
If they’re guilty pleasures, why do you feel guilty? Remember, in Unity, we know guilt is not a constructive emotion … unless we can learn from it. It’s okay to “take your hour of rest” and not think for a while. Even God rested on the seventh day! What about these “guilty pleasures” appeals to you? Look for the underlying value.
For example, one summer Stacy felt guilty because she kept playing Yahtzee on her phone instead of taking the time to meditate. She mentioned this to our minister, Rev. Molly Rockey, who replied, “Oh! That’s your Yahtzee meditation!” Giving herself permission to enjoy the break allowed Stacy to get what she needed from the experience. When she was ready, she renewed her meditation practice.
I found that I spent a fair amount of time not just watching murder mystery TV shows, like Castle and Bones, but also being concerned about the characters for days afterward. Good storytelling can account for some of it, but I found I liked solving puzzles and studying psychology. The sense of justice at the end was satisfying too.
3. Choose, Consciously
Ask yourself these questions: What will feed my dreams? What might inspire me to be my best self? What might educate and inform, and also be entertaining? If I’m staring at the TV just to zone out and relax, what will make me feel better later? Are there other shows that might better serve the underlying values I’m looking for? What are other like-minded people watching or listening to? Check with your Facebook friends or even the real ones that you meet in person!
Venture outside the habitual comfort zone and channel surf a bit! Try channels like Discovery and National Geographic, or OWN–Oprah Winfrey’s Network. You can even try just snippets on YouTube or your cable or satellite provider’s preview channel. Expand your horizons by stepping to the edge of what you know and embark upon adventures you can undertake from the couch—instead of being a couch potato, be a conscious armchair explorer! And don’t forget the resources available at Unity Online Radio!
Stacy and I discussed these three steps on our January 27 show, “How to Consume the Media Without Letting It Consume You,” and we talked about personal examples of how we can be “in the world but not of the world” and make everything a reflection of spiritual principle!
We covered guilty pop pleasures like my one-time Twilight obsession, which lead us to examine social evolution and inner demons. The Grammy Awards lead us to marvel at how music can bring the world and generations together. We discussed how Cirque du Soleil confirms that “with God all things are possible.” We talked about science fiction visionary Arthur C. Clarke and how in life today, science fiction from the past has become our present reality.
In media terms, what we pay attention to is measured in ratings and advertising dollars. If we are watching something that has irredeemable characters, no happy endings, or glorifies a lifestyle we find isn’t worth celebrating, we can turn our attention away—simply by changing the channel! Let’s give our support to something we’d like to see continue and gain in popularity. And in this way, our choices can affect others in a positive way.
Everything in our sphere of experience can become a tool for spiritual exploration and self-growth. Having grown up in Unity, Stacy and I have learned to look for the metaphor and metaphysical interpretations of just about everything.