Tag Archives: entertainment

Custody of the eyes

Dr. Ken Larsen

I have a friend who used to be a Franciscan nun.  It has been interesting through the years to hear her tell about life in the convent.  Her anecdotes are sometimes funny, sometimes not, but always colored with the wisdom that comes from reflecting on the experience of life.

One of the practices she described was “custody of the eyes”.  This was part of the way of life in the convent.  What it meant, essentially, is that each nun was responsible for where she focused her visual attention.  This practice taught the important principle that we have choices over what we put into our brain through our vision.

When I first heard her describe “custody of the eyes” I was reminded of the old computer aphorism, “Garbage in, garbage out.”  What we put into our brain/mind becomes the stuff of our thoughts, our memories, our dreams and reflections.  I believe our mental health and happiness is connected to the quality of our thought processes, which are formed by what we take in through our eyes and other senses.

Why am I telling you this?   For a while now I have avoided television news broadcasts, often because they bring images and information into my brain that are not helpful to me in maintaining my mental health and happiness.  This does not mean that I adopt an ostrich approach.  There are many thoughtful, responsible sources for staying informed that do not involve the sensationalism of television news shows.

sunAnother thing that strikes me is how many of the popular TV series are focused on murder, violence, and the hatred and ill will that generate violence.

I went to a movie with a friend recently and was afflicted with nearly a half hour of previews of coming films that were largely the stuff of nightmares.

What is a reasonable way to think about the role public entertainment plays in our life and culture?

I close with the following words from Newton Minow, the newly appointed Chairman of the FCC given to the National Association of Broadcasters in May 1961.  A bit idealistic perhaps, but thoughtful, even noble in its meaning and intent.

Television and all who participate in it are jointly accountable to the American public for respect for the special needs of children, for community responsibility, for the advancement of education and culture, for the acceptability of the program materials chosen, for decency and decorum in production, and for propriety in advertising. This responsibility cannot be discharged by any given group of programs, but can be discharged only through the highest standards of respect for the American home, applied to every moment of every program presented by television.

Alone Time

By Nancy S Buck, PhD, RN

How did you spend your time yesterday? What’s on your “to do” list for today? Do you consider yourself to be a busy, hurried and harried person or is relaxed, slow and steady a more apt description?

Nether of the above approaches to your days and life is better than the other. In fact, if you are a high energy hare-type person attempting to handle life as a tortoise you may increase your level of stress.

But with either of these life styles the chances are that your life is very full. Your obligations include work, your many relationships, time and energy spent on maintaining your physical and mental health, and hopefully hobbies and other entertaining activities. In the midst of all of this, how much time do you spend alone?


Let’s clarify that question. How much time do you spend alone without looking at or interacting with a screen? Do you spend any time during your day alone, without looking at your phone, electronic pad, television, or computer screen? Do you ever sit on a park bench simply watching what there is to see? The activities could include other park visitors, children playing, squirrels scampering, birds flying or ducks and pigeons foraging. And if not the park, you could sit at the mall, the lake or beach, community garden, or even your own porch, back yard, or living room.

You don’t need to meditate to gain the benefits of spending time in solitude every day. At first it may feel strange and uncomfortable. But the more you practice quiet reverie the more you may begin a journey into unknown parts of yourself. Nothing profound needs to happen, and yet it might. At the very least taking this time away, time alone for solitary time out may very well  rejuvenate, revitalize and replenish your personal imaginings and even your soul cravings.

The surest way to hear the soft strains of harmony is in the Silence.                                                                                          —      Sarah Ban Breathnach

Try seeking the love, belonging, and connections you desire by spending time every day alone, in solitude. Incorporating this simple yet challenging practice into your life may very well improve your Mental Health & Happiness.