Five Steps to Clearing Mental Clutter with Information Fasting

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[Photo by Masson-Simon via Envato Elements]

Discover the power of an information fast to rest and recharge our minds and to allow us to uncover the true self we have inside.

Last week, we talked about cleaning out the information in our minds to empower them to be at their best. One way to do this type of cleaning is with an information fast. An information fast is a deliberate attempt to remove ourselves from the constant barrage of information in our society. Doing so allows us a chance to reconnect to our true selves beneath the noise, free from the constant chatter of our inner and outer worlds. Like a dietary fast, it is a chance to rest, cleanse, heal, recharge, and rejuvenate.

Step One: Start with a Daily Meditation Practice
Just as with a dietary fast, we should begin with baby steps and then work up to something bigger. Doing a week-long information fast is not realistic for beginners. Yes, we could remove ourselves from outside information by renting a cabin deep in the woods, but more than likely our inner chatter would continue going a mile a minute, and we would feel very anxious and uncomfortable. Most of us are information junkies and going cold turkey just doesn’t work. Instead, I suggest beginning with a simple meditation practice for a few minutes a day. A genuine meditation practice will allow us develop the ability to watch and quiet our own mind first. We can also incorporate deep breathing to help us relax the body and mind. Simple, light, repetitive tasks that do not require much thought—such as cleaning a floor by hand, folding clothes, or washing dishes—can also help us center ourselves and practice watching the activity of our minds. Cleaning also becomes a reminder of our need to clean our minds, scrubbing it free of preconceptions and negative thinking.

Step Two: Choose the Level of the Fast
Then, once we have developed this ability, we can take an inventory of the sources of information in our lives. Write down a list of all the places that provide facts and ideas, such as friends and family, social media, newspapers, television, and so on. Notice the ones that do not serve you well or that take up too much of your time unnecessarily. Choose one or more of those to do without for a short amount of time.

Step Three: Pick a Schedule
Next, we can plan a date to start and a length of time that we know we can commit to. We could start with only a single day without one source of information and work up to a longer time, perhaps a week or month, where we refrain from unhealthy or time-wasting sources of information. We could also go “cold turkey” and eliminate a great number of informational sources at once, or if we want to get away from ones we can’t avoid, such as email and other work information, we could plan vacation time around the idea of informational fasting. We could even plan time on our own, away from family, friends, and coworkers, to help us truly get away from the constant flow of information. Newsletter signup banner

Step Four: Prepare the Environment
We can’t expect ourselves to succeed on an information fast if we don’t prepare our environment for success. Ideally, we would find a place that is naturally free of informational distractions. If possible, it’s best to plan for a place that is away from family and friends and that does not tempt us with cell phones and the Internet. Designate a specific time, perhaps at certain times of the week, when everyone knows that this is “alone time.” If that is not possible or easy to do because of our responsibilities, I suggest planning a time away from home and work in a place that is free of distractions, such as a mountain cabin or a peaceful spa.

Step Five: Work Up to a Deep Informational Cleanse
Eventually, we can grow our meditative ability and become more comfortable with our information fasting so that we genuinely and completely get away from the constant busy chatter of the world and, more importantly, of our own minds. We can plan a deep informational cleanse for a time when we can fully commit to being with only ourlselves for an extended period of time.

Informational Health Is the New Branch of Healthcare

We have reached a time in the story of human evolution that informational health is critical to individual and societal health. Informational fasting is one way we can begin to experience and use information in a better way, in a way that won’t control us or wear us down. This is very important for knowing who we truly are beneath all our layers of beliefs, preconceptions, and assumptions. Information fasting is a simple way for us to dig down and find out who we are underneath it all.

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