My relationship with TV started long ago when I was a child and it was only when I stopped watching TV that I realised how all consuming this relationship had been in my life.
I remember the development from viewing childhood and educational learning programs to cartoons, music video shows every Saturday morning, Australian and American sitcoms each evening, movies (that I would watch religiously over and over and over again!) and the gradual progression into reality TV shows, renovation, gardening and cooking programs or documentaries and news on current world events.
TV was my religion; it was a big part of my life as I rarely went a day without watching something. It formed a ritual and a way of living that was religious to me.
In my 20’s, technology made it easier to ensure I never missed an episode of my favourite show and I would record my programs if I was working late or if I went on holidays and needed to catch up as soon as I returned.
Television was my ‘down-time’, my ‘relax-time’ at the end of a busy or emotional day and it was my best friend when something stressful was going on that I certainly did not want to feel. I would arrive straight home from work and turn on the TV, keeping it switched on to help me switch off until that last minute before sleep. Many times I would even stay up longer than I really felt to just to see the climax of the program and how the story would end. I was living my life through the characters on the screen and used the drama and distraction to get me through the day.
The truth is I was religious with a lot of things, not only TV. There were sweets and fast food and the current top hits in music too. I was living in a way that was completely committed and dedicated to these things. I could hold a conversation with another about an episode or repeat all the words from Grease, Mary Poppins or The Simpsons when I was young, but I certainly couldn’t have an intimate or truthful conversation about what was really going on or what I truly felt. Because of this I always felt an emptiness and a lack of self-love within that I worked tirelessly to fill – with TV, stimulation or entertainment and food; most commonly using all at the same time.
I was missing the deeply loving and religious relationship with myself that I knew was possible.
When we consider that the true meaning of Religion is about being in relationship and returning to the love we truly are, these days I live religiously in a very different way. From my choices to bring more self-love into my life, I began to spend more time truly living and not just checking-out from life – I began to live religiously with love and with me.
My life is not about what’s happening on the screen anymore; it’s not about watching fictitious characters live their emotional drama as I watch in suspense and from my own withdrawal, but instead a way of living where I am now living from my own heart’s centre and not through others.
My commitment and purpose is now about living a loving and healthy relationship with me, so that I can bring this quality to others too. This means viewing and bringing an understanding to what is going on for and around me, and choosing to allow my natural awareness to be felt and honoured, instead of trying to shut it out or override it with any form of distraction.
The self-loving way I choose to live now is about cherishing who I am and bringing all of me to everything that I do, where I go, how I am in my relationships with other people and taking care of myself and my body by eating well and making truly nurturing choices. It’s definitely not about checking-out on the couch anymore, with the remote in one hand, TV guide in the other, an unhealthy meal choice in front of me and a rather sluggish approach to life!
TV once dictated how I spent my time – how I spent my evenings with my family, how I planned my day and at what time of night I would eventually go to bed. I based my life around TV rather than true love.
It is now great to be choosing a religious way of life that is not about entertainment value but the true value I feel from appreciating how sensitive and acutely aware I am in my day and thus giving myself the chance to actually feel this and read a situation for what it is. In 2010 I moved home and gave my TV away. It has actually felt natural to let go of a religious way of living that was not truly supporting me or my relationships, making way for an ever-deepening religious way of life that I now have, rich in connection to my knowing, embracing of life and with an openness and love for myself and others.
By Cherise Holt, 33, Brisbane