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How We Are Attracting Fake News and False Information to Our Lives

How We Are Attracting Fake News and False Information to Our Lives

A new phenomenon is taking the internet by storm, but in the worst of ways. Many of us have fallen victim to “Fake News.” And further perpetuate the issue by sharing this misinformation and regurgitating it as fact.

The news was once a trusted facet where we could inform ourselves of current events. But times have changed. With endless resources at our disposal, we are constantly confronted with news stories and studies that lack fact-checking and credibility. While these news sources are certainly in the wrong, we as readers are contributing to the issue and making it worse.

Perhaps it’s because these fake news stories appeal to our personal ideals, so we accept them as fact. Or maybe, it’s because we want to be the first one to share this information with our peers, appearing as if we are always in the know.

Our fear of missing out could be the culprit to our attraction to fake news.

The Fear of Missing Out (also known as FOMO) is the common condition with a pretty self-explanatory concept. We all want to be caught up on the latest news. It is part of the human condition to want to be informed. Therefore, when we see breaking news on the internet, we are inclined to share the stories to educate our peers.

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The huge issue with this is that many people don’t make it past the headline. Without even reading the articles, we share them on multiple social media outlets such as Facebook or Instagram, not even realizing what we are actually sharing.

In our effort to feel superior and informative, we are actually showing our peers how ignorant and gullible we are.

When we passively take in information, we blindly fall victim to bias.

Do you have a favorite go-to news source? Are you sure that it’s credible? Sometimes when we find a news outlet that appeals to our concerns and ideals, we passively take in the information, and don’t even think to challenge the “facts.”

For example, individuals who consider themselves to be extremely right winged politically tend to gravitate towards Fox News and bash any news sources that dare contradict any of their news stories. They have developed a bias, and will reject any information that doesn’t follow their agenda.

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Many of us do this without realizing it, and are negatively influenced by authoritative sources. There are three types of bias to look out for:

  • My-Side Bias- the kind of bias that gets formed when you’re in a collaborative group with strong ideals. You will gravitate towards information that confirms your group’s objective.
  • Authoritative Bias- a logical reasoning fallacy where you will refer to an authoritative source to either confirm or deny information. (Ex. Fox News. If they do not agree with the information, then it must not be true.)
  • Confirmation Bias- blinds people from being objective to facts. We don’t want to believe that we are wrong, so we will dismiss information that contradicts our beliefs. We will limit our intake of new information that does not resonate with our pre-existing beliefs.

To stop taking in false information, start with removing unreliable sources.

Evaluate the source of information.

How credible is this source really? Why do you take their word for fact, and is there perhaps some bias involved? Think about why you started to follow this individual or news source to begin with, and if it is still relevant to your current interests.

For example, maybe you started to follow a public figure because he was a really funny guy who shared a lot of jokes and funny videos. At the beginning he only shared about some nonsense jokes or funny things he did every day. But later, he started to joke about issues related to different races or sexual orientation. Be smart enough to know whether the information is valid or whether the public figure’s stance on something align to what you truly believe. Don’t just blindly follow what he believes without processing the information.

Try to disconnect from Facebook.

Much easier said than done, as this is a deep-seeded urge that we all have. FOMO typically stems from unhappiness, and a need for attention.[1] How do we dispel these urges?

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Disconnecting is one option. I know, I know. You just CAN’T LIVE without constantly checking into social media. But here’s the thing. You existed and survived without it before, you can do it again. Don’t go cold turkey, but just try to do it less. You have no idea how free and peaceful your mind will become when you stop overwhelm your brain with unnecessary information.

Search for different perspectives, always.

Don’t rely on one source for all of your information.[2] Look for opposing viewpoints on the subject that you’re looking into the get an even keel of the situation. You may realize something that you hadn’t noticed before and change your position on the matter.

Identify your stance on the subject, and look for contradictory evidence to disprove that fact. That might seem silly, but it is the only way to truly know if your opinion is concrete.

If in a group of people, ask each individual their opinion separately, as to not let them be influenced by the position of others.

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Use the rule of three.[3] Identify three possible hypothesis for the subject to look at it from every angle. Three is the magic number because there is enough variation to get a solid overview of the subject, but not so much information that it gets confusing and the point is lost.

Featured photo credit: Stocksnap via stocksnap.io

Reference

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Jenn Beach

Traveling vagabond, freelance writer, & plantbased food enthusiast.

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Published on November 28, 2018

How to Do Meditation at Home to Calm Your Anxious Mind

How to Do Meditation at Home to Calm Your Anxious Mind

The woman in yoga pants sitting in a lotus position atop a rocky cliff, overlooking a valley draped in fog — this is the glamorized version of meditation you’ll come across as you search. Yet if you’re seeking meditation to calm your mind, a fantastic setting with no distractions is rarely available.

So how to do meditation?

The truth about meditation is it’s an everyday practice for anybody. You could be a mountain climber or you could be an accountant — either way, your home is just as good a place for meditation as any.

Are you seeking to corral your racing thoughts and relieve a sense of unease, awkwardness, or uncertainty? Look to home meditation to cultivate a laid-back, creative, confident, and organized frame of mind. According to extensive scientific research, meditation relieves stress and anxiety, decreases blood pressure, improves sleep, and improves your ability to pay attention. [1]

From start to finish, this article will give you quick, easy steps to follow so that you can meditate at home regularly. You’ll begin by assessing, identifying and altering things that need to change in your home environment. You’ll end by understanding the basics of meditation so that you can let yourself do what you already know how to do deep down in the hidden reality of your mind.

You’re ready to let your mind be, and just be, in your own home — let’s begin.

1. Find the Right Space in Your Home

Where is your right space for meditation at home? Is it in your basement, your bedroom, your living room, or your study?

The right space will be one with the least distractions built in to its purpose. In that case, it may be your bedroom. If you’ve set up your bedroom to be a place for sleep and only sleep, it will lend itself well to meditation.

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The right space will also be a reasonably spacious one. Although comfort is not your goal, you need room to sit. Choose a space that is private, spacious, and quiet. If you don’t have a space in your home like this, create one. Free it from clutter and get it ready for you to meditate there any time.

Ultimately, your right space is one you feel comfortable meditating in, the space you can enter with no other expectations.

2. Improve the Feng Shui in Your Home and Meditation Space

Feng shui means “wind and water.” It’s the ancient Chinese art of placement.[2]

Feng shui improves harmony with nature. Adherents to the principles of feng shui believe all things have energy (chi). The focus of feng shui is to send negative chi (sha) out of the space and attract positive chi (yun).

Here’s the truth about feng shui: it’s not complicated or hard. The following will influence feng shui positively in your home and meditation space:

  • Living things, such as plants
  • Beautiful objects, such as sculptures or even a well-polished piece of driftwood
  • Mirrors in symmetrical placement with the lines in a room
  • Mellifluous sounds, such as trickling water or wind chimes
  • Furniture away from walls
  • A centerpiece, such as a small table with books or an ornate lamp on it
  • Incense or something else that smells good
  • A lack of clutter and an attention to organization that emphasizes the usefulness, purpose, and essential being of each item in your house

Given that feng shui is connected to Taoism and Buddhism, it will complement the meditative atmosphere you want to cultivate in your home.

3. Eliminate Pervasive Distractions That Can Harm Your Wellbeing

In part, meditation is about accepting the existence of distractions. When you meditate, you don’t judge and assign a positive or a negative value to distractions — the ticking of a clock, an itch, the barking of a dog — you let them occur and let them dissipate like waves.

However, in the same way that feng shui removes objects that attract negative chi, there are certain types of distractions that don’t belong in your meditative space. You must remove them.

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In a survey of 1,700 people who visited social media sites at least 30 times per week, 30 percent reported high levels of sleep disturbance and 25 percent presented symptoms of depression. [3]

Those individuals who experience sleep disturbances or mental health issues due to social media are not setting boundaries between themselves and their connected devices.

Part of learning how to meditate at home is learning how and when to set boundaries between yourself and your connected devices and social media accounts. If you need your phone for a timed meditation practice, but you normally receive social media notifications on your phone, set it on Do Not Disturb or Airplane mode during your meditation time.

4. Flow into Meditation Through Time

Next, set aside a time for meditation each day. It’s right to be structured and disciplined about your meditation time.

Buddhist monks whose lives revolve around meditation are very structured and organized with their tasks each day. Structure provides the balance your being needs. Once you are meditating, your mind has no need for time. Outside of your given meditation time, you are completing tasks essential to the wellbeing of yourself and your home.

Consider meditating as the sun rises. This is a quiet and contemplative time of the day when it is natural to set your day’s balance through meditation.

5. Recognize the Rightness of Doing Nothing

At home, you’re probably used to always doing something. When you do meditation at home, you are being, which is doing something and nothing simultaneously.

Maryville University points out that successful people unplug by doing nothing. [4] Not only this, but they set the right expectations for the time during which they will do nothing.

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We oftentimes look forward to the future by expecting something to happen and by expecting something of ourselves. To meditate from home, look to that time and that space by expecting nothing. You will not do any chores. You will not catch up on work. You will do nothing but meditate for a certain amount of time each day.

This might sound crazy, but in taking on meditation from home, you’re not expecting yourself to improve and become a better person. As Ram Dass put it, you are expecting yourself to be here now.

6. Choose from the Incredible Variety of Meditative Practices

As I outlined in my post on types of meditation, there are many different and not-so-different types of meditation from which to choose.

Many beginners find it right to choose guided meditation, for which there are apps, videos, and audio tapes available.

If you are not necessarily a beginner but are merely moving your meditative practice into the home, you can facilitate a practice such as Nada Yoga — sound meditation — by placing a fountain in your space or listening to ambient alpha wave music.

If you’re used to meditating outside of your home — perhaps you are drawn to the outdoors because of the sounds of nature — a practice like Nada Yoga can help you transition into your home space.

7. Understand You Can Meditate Any Time at Home

What if I told you to throw out all of the tips that came before this? Sounds crazy but that is how radical mindfulness meditation really is. We don’t think of it as radical because it is now ingrained in our popular discourse.

Mindfulness meditation does start as a sitting meditation practice. It goes like this:

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  1. Sit comfortably and close your eyes.
  2. Focus on breathing. Inhale through your nose slowly and exhale slowly.
  3. As distracting thoughts arise, don’t judge them and don’t hang onto them. Let each thought go as you focus on breathing.
  4. Treat all physical sensations and feelings in the same way you do thoughts: register them, then let them go, returning to breathing.
  5. Extend this practice to everyday activity, remaining “in the moment” of the body’s activity with each new breath.

As you practice mindfulness around your home, note the physical characteristics of the things in themselves. Note physical sensations: sounds, smells, textures, appearances, tastes. Stop now and then and do a body scan from head to toe, noting what each section is doing and how it’s feeling.

Note thoughts that come and the emotions attached to them: let them go. Concentrate on the breath and the physical activities — including the details of the objects with which you’re interacting.

You’ll notice that your home will lend itself to a meditative state when things are in order. This is where true feng shui originates. You will naturally sense how the arrangement of things affects the energy in a room.

Clutter will disappear because mindfulness tells you to dispose of unnecessary things. Plants will bloom. Birds will make their nests in your backyard. Your home will smell pleasing and people will naturally be attracted to it and your presence.

You’ve Reached the Beginning and the End

Once you are able to do mindfulness meditation even as you are attending to the normal and abnormal requirements of your home, the mundane and the unusual, you are at both the beginning and the end.

You are at the beginning because meditation never ends. Continue setting aside time each day to do sitting meditation in the space you’ve set aside. Continue practicing mindfulness as you attend to the energy of your house, your own energy, and the energy of those around you.

You are at the end because you grasped what it means to do meditation at home: it means letting go of cares and concerns and being in your home as you attend to the right tasks. The right tasks are those necessary for being in your home.

As you sit in your home, rise, open the door and you leave, you are calm in your mind because you are home.

Featured photo credit: Simon Rae via unsplash.com

Reference

[1]Healthline: 12 Science-Based Benefits of Meditation
[2]Marquette University: Feng Shui: The Wind and Water
[3]Rutgers University: Social Media and Well-Being
[4]Maryville University: How Successful People Unplug

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