The Zen of TV


Television has been vilified for quite some time. Watching TV has become synonymous with escapism, mind numbing and time wasting. Let’s not forget the brain washing and subliminal messages conveyed by corporate evil doers.

There is no doubt that there are harmful aspects to watching TV. But like so many things in life, it is not the tool but HOW we use it that makes the difference.

TV viewing can be a negative experience if we watch countless hours of TV without regard to what we’re watching and how it’s affecting us. Spending more time watching TV than focusing on what’s important is an escape from our own truth.

What makes TV more damaging is the fact that it is easily available. Just flick the switch and watch to your heart’s content. But consider the other side: if you don’t watch TV, the TV is not going to scream at you to turn it on. What you do is up to you.

I’m not going to focus on the negatives of watching TV. There has been a lot of talk about it. Instead, I would like you to consider the positives of watching TV.

Is there such a thing as inspiring TV? Inspiration is in the eye of the beholder. I can’t say that everything on TV is brilliant. I don’t watch it all. I watch a mix of science fiction, comedy and shows with a story to tell. To me they are entertaining and, on occasion, inspiring.

Here are some of the positive aspects of watching TV:

Content that opens your mind: When physics and spirituality meet, there is room for exploring new ideas. This is my experience with watching Fringe. It makes me think beyond my limited view of our world and the universe, and leads me to examine my thoughts and belief systems about what’s possible.

Thought provoking stories that can spark positive discussion: We meet our friends regularly for coffee and we have very good discussions about some of the ideas and plots on certain shows. At times there is confusion and the lines are blurred between what’s possible and what’s not, what’s right and what’s wrong. This enriches the conversation and reveals our underlying beliefs and values. Shows like Mad Men, Damages, Weeds and Big Love are examples.

Connecting and sharing experiences: There were times when we would gather with our friends to watch a show and interact directly as the story unfolded. Sporting events and award shows can also be a good example of people watching together and sharing the joys or pains of an event. The more in common people feel they have, the better they connect.

Motivation to be the best you: Numerous successful people have mentioned in their acceptance speeches how they were inspired by others before them as they watched their favorite role model on TV. The same applies to us being motivated by an artist or athlete making it to the top of their game. Nothing is more exciting that watching someone succeed.

Passing time when faced with life’s challenges: It is common for people who are faced with adversity such as serious illness to take on watching a series from start to finish. When rest is required and mobility is not an option, TV can be a good companion when waiting is the only option.

Bottom line: watching TV is like life. It is what you make it out to be. Being aware of WHAT and WHY you watch something are key to having a Zen-like TV experience.

Happy watching!