A Fairy Tale. Arthur Wardle.

Show Binging — Getting Lost in the Realm of the Fae.

How to mindfully consume television.

When I find myself a new television show the world can’t throw enough problems at me to keep me down.

I actually feel safer because no matter what happens during the day (excluding death or maiming) I can always fall back on a few blissful hours of an alternative experience.

This goes beyond not giving a f#&^ as television transports me into another world. A realm of fantasy where stories live themselves.

The trick is navigating this space with mindfulness, recognizing the good and ill it brings.

Television makes myth a neurological reality.

The brain has evolved to trust its senses. The sense of sight especially

One can hear odd things, have an ecstatic experience, but when a skeptic says they want the truth, they ask to see it with their own eyes.

The ancients have exploited this with ritual and theater since the beginning of civilization.

From sacred plays to the initiations of the mysteries people have been using the brain’s willingness to believe what it sees as a means to tap into the stories, the myths, the archetypes within us.

Television allows this to happen in a way that has never existed before. Thousands of myths at your fingertips: tragedies, comedies, horrors.

The brain is wired to feel what it sees.

Mirror neurons run us through the motions of what we watch and if there weren’t another set of neurons working to still our body we would mime what we see others do.

That’s the power of television. Part of the brain believes it is having the experience it watches.

The stories, the myths, the emotions, they are happening within us. The body races with dopamine when there is anxiety, tension, drama streaming to us via the television.

We sigh with relief and serotonin when the action pauses for a moment and we catch our scripted breath.

It’s a powerful experience and it tells the mind that no matter how crazy or lackluster our life is we can always live our fantasies with the tap of a button.

These are the halls of the fae, the stuff of legends from time immemorable, the ability to escape the humdrum life that we know and enter into a faery tale, even if that is simply a life more dramatic than our own.

The dangers of faery tales.

The story of entering the faery mound or the underworld, even the lightspeed flight of the space alien, comes with a warning.

Time passes differently there and if you eat the fruit you may be forced to stay.

I’m sure we’ve all blinked away days staring at a screen, hardly noticing the time passing by.

Sometimes that’s a balm to the soul. There isn’t much else to do and the mind and body need a rest and taste of something else. A story that can truly move us.

Sometimes this causes life to pass us by.

The regret of dances in the faery realm occurs when the person returns back to their life and everyone is aged or gone.

The trick, as usual, is in the balance.

Staying mindful while binging.

I’ve noticed that for me if I stay mindful to my body it helps me know when I am actually enjoying and benefiting from an excursion into the fae realms rather than allowing it to trap and drain me.

There is a difference in the body between the positive experiences of rest and delight and the zombied experience of staring.

A shorter stint of enjoyed binging leads me to wonder and curiosity. I want to dissect the plot, appreciate the cinematography, figure out what and why these emotions are stirring within. I am actively engaged and entertained.

When I go for too long though the opposite occurs. I get tired, lose cognitive focus, and while I may not actually enjoy what I’m watching I’m hungry for more.

The brain is becoming desensitized. The more a neuron receives stimulation the less it reacts. Binge horror for a day and you’re not going to be as sensitive to noradrenaline or dopamine as you were in the morning.

The brain is worn out, it’s no longer falling for the trick. So you get less of a buzz but your hunger for the experience is simply growing.

Television is neurologically addictive just like any state with intense mental stimulation and diminishing rewards.

The trick to healthy consumption is catching that fine point between enjoyment and addiction.

That moment where you go from enjoying the story to mindlessly consuming another dulled sensation.

Put it into practice.

Next time you’re binging check in with your body. Maybe it’s between each show or you set an alarm to nudge you.

Just ask how you feel. Do you have more or less energy than when you started?

Do you have more or less focus? Are you enjoying yourself?

Do you feel refreshed?

Check it out and see when things shift. What does that moment of shift feel like? How do you observe it for the future? After some time observing yourself, what choice do you want to make?

Do you continue on or do you change your process?

Love and share.

I’m starting something new. Writing every day as I put my random thoughts down on binary paper.

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Joshua Burkhart

Joshua Burkhart

Transformation coach specializing in mental health, spirituality & relationships — the way we connect to self, society & cosmos. link.snipfeed.co/joshuaburkhart