Apr 20, 2014

Preparing for a Pilgrimage

How exactly do you prepare for a pilgrimage? For two weeks I've been on a media fast: no online videos, TV, movies, video games, or checking email/Facebook more than once per day.

While this has been an idea in the back of my mind for some time, I put it into action once I was invited on a hike around Koya-san - a high valley nestled between eight mountain peaks, home to several temples and an expansive, peaceful cemetery.

Before I've even set foot in Koya-san's direction, giving up popular media has had immediate effects on my life. For one thing, I go outside more often to enjoy the trees:

Giving up TV, movies, and games has also opened up more time for important things, like writing, meditation, reading, walking/running outside, and long bike rides. Like any fast, it's not about what you're giving up as opposed to what you wish to gain.

Reading and meditating has given me more peace of mind; I feel healthier because I exercise everyday, no matter how briefly; and my writing has dug deeper into stories that people are connecting to. These moments of joy are worth more than any source of screen entertainment.

I don't think popular media is wrong - of course I've spent a huge portion of my life consuming it. The question is why. Since putting it on the shelf I've shifted from consuming to creating. I'm training my mind to be alert and at peace to get the most out of my trek to Koya-san's holy valley.


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