Is Watching TV Actually Relaxing?



A glorious day to all of you, friends!

Ah, it’s so good to be alive, isn’t it? It’s 18° right now outside of my little hermitage, the air is crystal clear, and the sun is peaking up over the ridge. So beautiful! What an amazing world we live in.

Today I thought I’d mention something interesting that came up in a conversation with someone the other day. We were talking about relaxation and the importance of giving ourselves times of relaxation in order to counterbalance all of the work and activity, stress and busyness, that we are all immersed in these days. As we were talking the question came up, is watching TV and the equivalent actually relaxing? An interesting question, don’t you think?

Here’s the answer that comes out of my experience…

From a certain point of view, it’s obviously so that watching tv, videos, movies, and so on is very relaxing. That’s why people enjoy it. It’s a way to set aside the cares and stresses of the day, and avoid dealing with those cares and stresses. The trouble, though, is that this kind of activity involves a nearly complete loss of consciousness for most people. It is technically possible to watch a movie or whatever and remain aware that you are watching the movie, but I doubt that happens all that much. The medium is just too powerful, and it’s designed to suck a person into a reality that is not here, in the present, and so completely that they forget about the reality they actually live in. Of course, that’s why people enjoy it. But is this actually relaxing, ultimately? Does this kind of activity truly release our bodies and minds from stress?

The answer to that deeper question, I think, is no. Part of the reason for this is that the things we are attending to in the TV show or the movie or whatever often are inherently stressful. So there’s that. Beneath that, though, there’s another process going on that causes stress rather than relieves stress. If a person has given up their consciousness, then they have opened a door for conditioned mind to sneak through, and have created a space in their minds in which conditioned mind can freely operate. While a person is watching a TV show, and if they have lost their awareness in doing so, then behind the scenes conditioned mind is maintaining itself. It’s embedding beliefs about what is good and bad, what is right and wrong, and so on. It’s rehearsing stories that are designed to create identity. It’s setting a person up for subtle forms (or not so subtle forms) of sabotage, and so on. It’s kind of like a patient on an operating table. That patient has no influence whatsoever and what the doctor will do. Similarly, someone who is watching tv, by and large, is subject to whatever conditioned mind will do to that person so long as they are not here.

Compare this to activities that truly are relaxing, through and through, because they do not involve a loss of consciousness. For example, one of my favorite things in the world is to sit in my collapsible rocking chair on the rocky shelf at my place up above the creek. I spend some time there just about every day, doing absolutely nothing. Of course, while I’m doing absolutely nothing I’m actually breathing, feeling, perceiving, enjoying, and living fully within a relaxed state. Another of my favorites is to lie on my bed in the evening after dark with a candle burning. There again I’m doing nothing but breathing, feeling, and simply being. I receive the same benefit as I might from watching tv, in that this provides a way for me to set aside the cares and troubles of the day. But I don’t lose consciousness, at least ideally (it takes a lot of practice, of course, to be able to just lie there or sit there without losing consciousness, even without the help of a television or YouTube). Another of my favorites is a slow walk down the country road here where I live. There is an increase in consciousness through these activities, not a loss, and this just deepens the relaxation and the necessary healing after or during a day of work and activity.

You might consider how you use your time when it’s time to relax. Are you doing things that actually take care of you and truly relax your body and your mind? Or are you doing things that actually increase the stress you are living with over time? An important thing to pay attention to, I think.

Be well, friends, and have a good day!

In peace,