Most of us assume social media use is a drain on health. No doubt all the sitting and screen watching hurts you, but is it possible to use social media in ways that eliminate anxiety, depression, or just neurotic thinking? Specifically, can social media be used in ways to make one as focused as sitting meditation practice?
Expressive writing is well-established as a mental healthcare treatment. This kind of treatment usually involves writing one’s stream of consciousness word for word, without self-censorship. Stream of consciousness writing is found to reduce stress and cognitive load in completing tasks.   Leaders who practice, "self talk" are found to be much more focused and aware of what they're doing, especially in stressful situations.  But writing of one’s deepest, most sensitive thoughts and feelings is usually done in privacy. What if publishing stream of consciousness has the potential to facilitate faster, long lasting personal breakthroughs and lead to a focused, resilient mind?
From Watching, to Releasing the Thinker
Traditional sitting meditation practice typically involves observing and setting aside discursive thoughts. Eckhart Tolle calls this, “watching the thinker,” and involves labeling thoughts as, “thinking” and setting them aside to resume focus on your senses with the present moment, like the breath, feeling parts of your body, or gazing in front of you. This process of sitting meditation is difficult for most people to start doing and can take years of practice to realize significant, if any change.
We need ways of clicking people into beginner’s mind, where one can regularly connect with the stillness and space of meditation. Like riding a bike, you need to actually connect with the wonderful sensation of bike riding.
Releasing the Thinker could be a more accessible approach for people who feel like it’s hard get started with meditation. Instead of bringing focus away from the stream of thoughts, expressive writing exposes them and connects you intimately with the nature of what you’re actually thinking and feeling in the moment. Most of us are very attached to specific, repetitive thoughts, feelings and desires. By exposing those thoughts and feelings fully, their absurdity, beauty, intelligence and neuroticism are exposed and the mind starts to give up on giving them attention.
Our goal here is not for the most comfortable, consumer-friendly experience to meditation possible. There are plenty of places you can find that elsewhere. We’re here for fast, life-changing transformation. Being brutally honest about what you think and feel in the moment illuminates the struggle already going on inside, and allows you to become progressively smarter and emotionally stable, faster.
It's not necessary to share one's stream of consciousness publicly in order to reap the benefits of expressive writing meditation. One could do the same thing anonymously and still train the mind to become clear and focused in the moment. People in chat rooms specifically structured for this purpose could be a transformative social process.
Sharing your exact thoughts on the internet is an intense experience. If you consider doing this, please do so with the support of a mental healthcare professional. That said, you may intuitively start doing this naturally.
Here is a possible process to get started with life streaming for conscious awareness. Make a goal of practicing this once or twice a day for 4-12 weeks.
Give your loved ones a heads up. Tell them you’re going to practice something new and share your thoughts as they pass through your mind. Tell them you need their patience and support, not judgement or defensiveness! You might say some things that feel hurtful or judgemental about others. Those are opportunities to grow together as friends and family. You’re doing this for your health, to be fully present with yourself and how your thoughts and feelings work.
Write stream of consciousness about anything and post it online, anonymously or with your real name. You can use a set of writing prompts like this one. Don’t hold back or be deliberately vague. If sentences and grammar get garbled, you can go back and do some editing that still maintains the idea of what passed through your mind. If something feels too difficult to share, write it down and save it for later.
Watch music videos, listen to a song, or watch a talk about something you’re interested in. Share the experience in your feed and write stream of consciousness about it for a moment.
Record video of your self speaking extemporaneously, or even record a screen share of yourself writing. Share it live or upload it later.
Stay social with people face to face or over the phone. Go to therapy. The healthy people in your life will shine through with real support and treat you like a person.
Practice some sitting meditation and read about meditation-related theory and philosophy. It will relax you during recovery.
Overload the Thinker.
Most of us are conditioned to be anxious about the past and future. It’s like two gears in the transmission— forward and backward. Most of us can only really focus on activities that are trained to muscle or procedural memory. While you’re writing the same email responding to a client for the 20th time, the mind is constantly nagging in the background with stories about the past and future. All your life, you’ve been stuck with a mind that exhausts you with worries.
Our goal is to neutralize those stories by exposing them.
Expressive writing trains the mind to become aware and less attached to what it’s thinking in the moment. As you become less emotionally/psychologically hooked to the story line passing through your mind, it becomes much easier to return to the present moment.
Rather quickly, you realize the repetitive nature of the stories cycling in your head— stories about who you apparently are, what you apparently believe, what you apparently want and don’t want, how you’re apparently seen in the world. An extraordinary amount of mental effort is spent analyzing these topics, which detaches one self from being present with reality.
By fully expressing yourself, by keeping it fully real in the moment to yourself and others, you’re finally surrendering to the reality of how painful and distracting those repetitive thoughts are. The thinker feels overloaded and desperately needs relief from recalculating these things. Because it’s been a lifetime of overloaded already, without meditation!
Writing stream of consciousness creates a mirror to your self and the chaos already going on inside throughout daily life. By giving the thinker direct sunlight, where the thinker realizes it can’t keep all the stories controlled, the champagne bottle pops. You may have felt afraid of that happening— but it’s awesome on the other side. It’s ordinary tranquility. The mind has to just, give up on the mind games and start over with meditation.
Drop Ego’s Mask.
Most of us are quite concerned about what others think of us. Not just to keep your job, but your self esteem, identity, who you think you want to be. We live in a society where we are conditioned to fear being ourselves and instead be who we think we’re supposed to be.
But you and I both know some of the most respected, powerful examples of humanity are those who have the bravery to tell others what they truly think and feel. Such individuals aren’t absorbed by worrying about what others think of them, they don’t wear a mask, they are just who they are.
If you lied, tell people you lied. You won’t have to think about how you’ve lied anymore. You can’t be anxious about something others are already aware of.
By sharing stream of consciousness writing online, you start shedding sense of attachment to what others think of you. A wonderful fearlessness emerges. You realize in point-blank fashion that your thoughts are not necessarily who you are or your, “self.” They’re more like weather patterns just passing through.  Like billboards on the side of the road, advertising to you, trying to tell you who you are, what mask to wear, but you're not any of those masks. You’re the Buddha!
All of your effort to hold a mask up to yourself has been moot— sure you may have a degree and a job and some other things, but are you present? Dropping the mask lets you see who and where you are. Once you fully connect to the Now, where the mask not maintained and timelessness is exposed, bare with you, there is connection to a compelling meditative reality.
There are a lot of things you’ll life stream that won’t necessarily make sense to a lot of people. The inner narrative, all the junk built up in your top of mind thinking is knocking around all kinds of ideas and emotions. Those things don’t know how to relate to one another without pretension. The ego is trying to follow a script of rules about what to say or do. Instead of being dependent on that script, only existing within the confines of that script, one must practice allowing the Buddha in you to expose and express what the ego is trying to do, throwing your neurotic anxieties out like empty beer bottles.
Time to let yourself just be, without the script. You’re already doing it, just keep doing it and allow yourself to be. Radical honesty may be an easier path to life, allowing those repeat hauntings in the mind to finally relax. Then you could finally let go of any attachments you have concerning yourself and just do it.
There’s no way of doing this without risk. If you allow your fear of risk to stop you, then you can’t be freed with radical honesty as a practice. We’re here for the folks who are sick of worrying, of being isolated by what other people think, and wish to be fully compassionate and empathic warriors instead.
Perhaps you have what it takes to be a Transparent Professional!