Category: Pop Culture

Three Steps to being a Conscious Consumer of Pop Culture

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Published on Unity.org on February 10, 2014           

By Malayna Dawn

       

   

Three Steps to Being a Conscious Consumer of Pop Culture

If you are familiar with the Law of Mind Action and the Law of Attraction, you know that what we think about, we experience. Being a conscious consumer of pop culture (or one who is “Pop Conscious”) means examining our choices of entertainment and mass media for how they enrich our lives … or not.

We can do so with these three basic steps: Observe, Discern, and Choose.

1. Observe

While enjoying your favorite TV shows, films, music, or other entertainment, assume the role of an observer and pay attention to what you’re watching, listening to, and reading. You might think about it in terms of how someone else would see you, based on your choices. 

A good tool is to examine your presets or favorites on your television, stereo, or any entertainment system. What apps dominate your phone or tablet computer? What’s the music on your playlists? Don’t forget your guilty pleasures! Look for patterns and themes. Awareness is the first step!

2. Discern

Discernment is one of our 12 spiritual powers as taught by Charles Fillmore, so why not use it? We can ask ourselves, “How do these shows, songs, books, make me feel?” “Does this make me think? Do I feel smarter afterward?”

If they’re guilty pleasures, why do you feel guilty? Remember, in Unity, we know guilt is not a constructive emotion … unless we can learn from it. It’s okay to “take your hour of rest” and not think for a while. Even God rested on the seventh day! What about these “guilty pleasures” appeals to you? Look for the underlying value.

For example, one summer Stacy felt guilty because she kept playing Yahtzee on her phone instead of taking the time to meditate. She mentioned this to our minister, Rev. Molly Rockey, who replied, “Oh! That’s your Yahtzee meditation!” Giving herself permission to enjoy the break allowed Stacy to get what she needed from the experience. When she was ready, she renewed her meditation practice.

I found that I spent a fair amount of time not just watching murder mystery TV shows, like Castle and Bones, but also being concerned about the characters for days afterward. Good storytelling can account for some of it, but I found I liked solving puzzles and studying psychology. The sense of justice at the end was satisfying too.

3. Choose, Consciously

Ask yourself these questions: What will feed my dreams? What might inspire me to be my best self? What might educate and inform, and also be entertaining? If I’m staring at the TV just to zone out and relax, what will make me feel better later? Are there other shows that might better serve the underlying values I’m looking for? What are other like-minded people watching or listening to? Check with your Facebook friends or even the real ones that you meet in person!

Venture outside the habitual comfort zone and channel surf a bit! Try channels like Discovery and National Geographic, or OWN–Oprah Winfrey’s Network. You can even try just snippets on YouTube or your cable or satellite provider’s preview channel. Expand your horizons by stepping to the edge of what you know and embark upon adventures you can undertake from the couch—instead of being a couch potato, be a conscious armchair explorer! And don’t forget the resources available at Unity Online Radio!

Stacy and I discussed these three steps on our January 27 show, “How to Consume the Media Without Letting It Consume You,” and we talked about personal examples of how we can be “in the world but not of the world” and make everything a reflection of spiritual principle!

We covered guilty pop pleasures like my one-time Twilight obsession, which lead us to examine social evolution and inner demons. The Grammy Awards lead us to marvel at how music can bring the world and generations together. We discussed how Cirque du Soleil confirms that “with God all things are possible.” We talked about science fiction visionary Arthur C. Clarke and how in life today, science fiction from the past has become our present reality.

In media terms, what we pay attention to is measured in ratings and advertising dollars. If we are watching something that has irredeemable characters, no happy endings, or glorifies a lifestyle we find isn’t worth celebrating, we can turn our attention away—simply by changing the channel! Let’s give our support to something we’d like to see continue and gain in popularity. And in this way, our choices can affect others in a positive way.

Everything in our sphere of experience can become a tool for spiritual exploration and self-growth. Having grown up in Unity, Stacy and I have learned to look for the metaphor and metaphysical interpretations of just about everything.

 

Malayna Dawn is cohost of the Unity Online Radio program Pop Conscious: Where Pop Culture and Spirituality Unite. She and her cohost, Stacy Macris Ros, are lifelong Unity students who are both working toward their ministerial credentials. Malayna is the office manager at Unity of the Oaks in Thousand Oaks, California, and author of a spiritual adventure novel, Echoes Across Time.

 

The Mind Behind the Haunted Carnival

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BOY0073800What is it about Tim Burton’s creative vision that resonates with so many of us? In a time when fairy tales have been cleansed of anything scary, violent or even hinting at death, Burton revives the darkness that has been removed, but for the delight of grown-ups, and without removing the magic.

Look back to the original versions of fairy tales—at the least the earliest written ones we can find recorded, such as Grimm’s Fairy Tales, and you’ll see that they were indeed grim. There was violence and horror mingled with the enchantment. Endings weren’t always happy, but they served a social function…several, actually. Beyond scaring kids into behaving, they also fulfilled the purposes of mythology: to offer a metaphorical guide through the journey of life (which, let’s face it, can be messy). It’s a path we all travel, though at different times—from infancy to independence, puberty to procreation, adulthood to aging and finally, death.

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Steampunk and Clockwork Couture

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CC-WindowGirl 
 
If it weren’t for the brightly shining sun on the leafy green trees and modern cars out the window, you might think you were in Victorian England – where the fog would obscure the cobblestone streets and gas lamps, so you could only hear the hoof beats of horse-drawn carriages and the hoot of the steam train in the distance.   But this lovely little room is in the sunny Southern California suburb of Burbank! 

Clockwork Couture has more than Victoriana, it offers the opportunity to become a Steampunk!  To be a steampunk, you need to imagine that you’re living at the turn of the last century, when science is making huge strides and the British Empire stretches across the globe. The Queen’s subjects bring tales of steamship adventures and souvenirs from exotic lands. America lures many with the promise of freedom and danger in the wild West, and grand Colonial plantations in the South are creating Civil War, while on the East Coast, a new-world version of Victorian refinement can be found.

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My Valentine Cleverness

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Angelbabyheart

I’m feeling terribly clever at the moment, and just had to share!  I figured my blog is the perfect place for such shameless self-promotion and self-congratulation. 

As you probably already know, I write about the mind-body-spirit connection and our place in culture.  At the moment, and for some time now, that writing has been in the form of ghostwriting for websites in the U.S.—more specifically, blogging.  My current clients include a holistic addiction recovery facility, a hospital heart clinic, a wedding venue and a costume company specializing in comic and anime conventions.  I feel clever because I’ve been able to have my own little Valentine’s celebration while writing for each of these clients.

I find it the most satisfying when I can incorporate what I’m thinking about anyway into my posts.  So here’s what I did today and earlier this week:

For the heart health clinic -  I wrote about
  -foods OF love—those that are considered aphrodisiacs, and what their actual health benefits may be.  And
  -food AS love – the concept behind the use of food as a form of affection– especially with children.  This is not always good, since those who feel unloved for whatever reason may end up becoming overweight. I suggested different ways of expressing you care while also supporting the health of those you love.


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Examining Our Shadows – The Symbolism of Monster Archetypes

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How about some Halloween Spirit-uality?

Before we begin examining the monster archetypes, it’s important to realize that they don’t just represent a dark, malevolent side of us, but rather the part of our being that is least familiar to our conscious mind.

They become hostile only when it is ignored or misunderstood–expressing themselves through behavior that often sabotages our wishes or image of ourselves. But they serve us by nudging us toward the light. The important thing is that if you feel some resonance these or any other symbolic roles, you should examine what they represent to YOU. 

Let’s think of our inner monsters as our as unexplored power, bringing light to what is in shadow.

Vampire Monster-Vampire

  • Vampires survive by feeding off the life-force of another. Carolyn Myss describes the vampire archetype this way: “we sometimes form attachments to others because we desire their energy, a desire that manifests through the need to have the ‘other’ take care of our survival.  What has been defined as a co-dependent relationship could easily fall under the vampire template.  You may find it hard to identify yourself as a vampire, yet it is essential to review this archetype personally.  Patterns of behavior such as chronic complaining, overdependence, holding on to a relationship either emotionally or psychically long after it has ended, and chronic power struggles are all indicators of Vampire patterns.”

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Breathing Inspiration – Messages from Music, TV and Movies

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Photo from Jendala.com & item is available for sale!

Breathe-chimI recently downloaded a bunch of music, and then I noticed a pattern.  There seem to be a lot of songs about breathing. I’ve got “Breathe”, “Breathe In”, Keep Breathing” , “Breathe In Breathe Out” and “Breathe Me”. 

I must admit, I wondered what the Universe might be trying to tell me, or where my inner guidance is trying to draw my attention. 

So I took a deep breath.  Ahhhhhh.  And I started thinking.

I remembered a few quotes from Tom Hanks films that talk about how to go on when life becomes painful.

From Castaway
“I gotta keep breathing. Because tomorrow the sun will rise. Who knows what the tide could bring?”

From Sleepless in Seattle
“I'm gonna get out of bed every morning… breathe in and out all day long. Then, after a while I won't have to remind myself to get out of bed every morning and breathe in and out…"

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Thoughts on Themes of AVATAR

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I was fortunate enough to see the film AVATAR with an insightful chick from India, who explained to me at intermission (we have those in Sri Lankan movie theaters) that the word “avatar” still has spiritual meaning to people in India, and therefore when they’re referring to the movie, they might differentiate it by pronouncing it with an American accent!  

 

The definition for them is “The incarnation of a Hindu deity, especially Vishnu, in human or animal form.” She pointed out that Vishnu’s avatar is Krishna and both are blue.  And also that the Na’vi had tails, much like the monkey god, Hanuman. 

 

She also mentioned that the word “Na’vi” sounds like the Hindi word for “new” and she wondered how the Na’vi language was developed, so I found an explanation for her on Wikipedia.

 

The name PANDORA

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My Freelance Adventure

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GreysOrchidsScreenshot Screenshot from Grey's Anatomy Season 5, Episode 18 "Stand By Me"

As a freelance writer, I bring in the majority of my income by writing for others and taking money instead of taking credit.  When I grow up, maybe I'll accept both, but most of the articles I’ve written for the past few years have not had my name on them, and since they’re written about topics that are not my main focus of interest, that’s fine with me.

But every now and then, I find myself feeling pretty excited about what I’ve written. I usually pat myself on the back and move on, promptly losing these examples among all the other files. But today, I thought I’d take a moment to share.

I’ve written lots of blogs on topics that I didn’t know much about…at first.  Here’s a list: Cremation, Drug rehab, Costumes, Heart health, Internet technology, Divorce, Restaurant trends, and Sensory research. One of the blogs I write is about orchids. I keep myself entertained by making sure that I incorporate topics that are interesting to me. 

This week I got to write one that packs in several: My love of Metaphors and Symbolism, Grey’s Anatomy and their awesome writers, Nature and Science, Psychology and Culture, and playing with those who are clearly in the grip of obsession. 

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Contemplating “Twilight” – Story, Symbolism, and Mythology

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Twilightbooks

I had put off reading Twilight initially. 

Maybe it was out of loyalty to Anne Rice’s vampires

Maybe because it looked like a teenage vampire story and I thought I couldn’t relate to the kids today. 

Honestly, it was largely because I’m in the midst of writing my next book—still a spiritual adventure set in Sri Lanka, but a gothic and supernatural one–and I didn’t want to be influenced too much. 

Photo from http://www.flickr.com/photos/sweetknez23/

But then I gave in. My mind needed data.

I’m so glad that I did!  For one thing, it made me feel young! And apparently, I CAN relate to the kids today, since I know a few Tweens who are totally into the series, as well as several alleged-adults like myself.  Youth is a state of mind

Also – it reminded me that true creativity isn’t diminished by appreciating others’ creative work, instead, it breeds inspiration by feeding the imagination.  Creation feeds creation—it’s the circle of life and of giving and receiving. And that’s all good stuff.  Her praise for the band “Muse” * for inspiring her is a good example.

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