Today I’m handing over the proverbial reigns to a friend of mine, and a fellow sister in Christ, Christine. She is going to challenge us today to take social media to a new level as she explains her journey of developing the spiritual practice of using Instagram.
Can I really consider my social media habits a spiritual practice? May that’s a bit too far fetched? Might it even be heresy?
Bear with me a moment while I turn back time a little…
Towards the end of November last year I started to get frustrated.
Yes, I was doing well with my Christmas preparations. I had bought most of the presents. I was in full swing. But now the moment had come in which it dawned on me: despite all my willpower and strong resolution I was facing another advent that would run through my fingers like grains of sand. Just like in recent years, I was afraid it wouldn’t leave any impact on my heart.
The process invited my soul to dance, breath and expand – not just for an hour in the morning during my quiet time, but interwoven within the ins and outs of my daily life.
This thought was upsetting, because since childhood advent had been my most cherished time of the year! For most of my life it had never failed to fill me with joy and excitement. So whenever I had heard a mother complain about this season, and even – God forbid! – uttered that she hated it, I vowed myself to never end up like this!
Yet, with a growing family and an ever expanding amount of obligations those weeks of December had lost some of their meaning and wonder even for me.
Instagram can Change Your Inner World
Through writing I’m able to order my thoughts and make connections in a way that wouldn’t have happened otherwise.
About a month prior to this sobering realisation I had started using my Instagram account for more than just scrolling. I had begun posting pictures and random thoughts and was surprised by how much I enjoyed it. Nevertheless, I would have never thought how much those pretty squares and little captions would rock my inner world! Being on a mission to experience the pre-Christmas
season in a more meaningful way, I stumbled across the #adventword challenge.I jumped on: meditating over the daily prompt word, choosing a picture, writing about it. I embraced this daily habit, and in turn it started to embrace me. The process invited my soul to dance, breath and expand – not just for an hour in the morning during my quiet time, but interwoven within the ins and outs of my daily life.
On 24th December my caption read as follows:
“Having the #Adventword Challenge accompany me through the weeks leading up to Christmas has been incredibly enriching. A few weeks ago I wrote about how I would love to experience the season of advent in a more meaningful way, and also about my longing to feel more grounded and calm in daily life. With a word each day to meditate on just that has happened: it added a certain spark to this time of waiting for Christmas, slowed me down inwardly and kept on reminding me of the liberating truth that God speaks into my life. The process of writing down my thoughts, of putting them into words, of not wanting to miss a day, of digging deep and being surprised by what I found – the process of having a focus and outlet each day has been such a blessing to me! This year’s advent felt to me so much more calm and meaningful than in the past. Well, it’s hard to freak out over to-do-lists, be stressed by imperfections of a family home or take siblings arguments personally when you preach to yourself such beautiful truths. It helped my heart and mind to actually live in a place where their theoretical beliefs became a tangible reality in the way I felt, thought and acted. Thank you, for this initiative and thank you to all who have taken the time to read my posts!”
… and, as they say, the rest is history!
Being Intentional with Daily Takeaways with Instagram
I still post a picture and some thoughts each day. This practice continues to help me to be open and alert towards myself, the world around me and God’s Spirit. It encourages me to watch out for the meaningful takeaways each day has in store. Sometimes they seem trivial, at other times the depth of my musings surprise me, as I excavate many layers beneath an issue that’s on my mind. Once in a while beautiful childhood memories rise to the surface and present their relevance for my present life. Through writing I’m able to order my thoughts and make connections in a way that wouldn’t have happened otherwise. Along the way I regularly even feel God talking straight to my heart through the words I find myself putting down.
Does it Have to Be On Social Media?
Naturally I have asked myself if all this needs to happen on social media. Wouldn’t a notebook do the trick too?
While I still ponder confidential matters in my journal, the public platform has proven to be an advantage for me personally. A big part of it is the sense of accountability that motivates me not to break the chain of daily posts. The sense of accomplishment is so rewarding to me! I also have discovered this new
I’m learning first hand that honesty breeds connection and freedom, and not shame.
routine of mine as a way to practice vulnerability, to put myself out there, and to find my voice. In doing so I’m learning first hand that honesty breeds connection and freedom, and not shame. This lesson has already started to gently infuse the way I approach my real life relationships. Moreover, seeing others resonate with what I share may occasionally bring some much needed validation to an idea that so far only existed in my head. All in all my daily posts have helped me to get to know myself better and experience God in some wonderful and significant ways.
It helped my heart and mind to actually live in a place where their theoretical beliefs became a tangible reality in the way I felt, thought and acted.
Besides all this there are at least four other useful life skills I get to practice while using social media:
1. Challenging my own motivation behind the way I present myself to others.
2. Observing how the feedback of others affects my self-worth.
3. Being intentional about the influences I put myself under.
4. Last but not least, this creative soul of mine loves being able to showcase some pretty photos.
at is your experience with Instagram? Do you think it’s helpful to use as a spiritual practice?
So, in coming back to the question whether it’s presumptuous to categorise Instagram posting as a spiritual practice, I’ll let you be the judge.
To close, I’ll leave you with a short a Wikipedia definition:
“A spiritual practice (…) is the regular or full-time performance of actions and activities undertaken for the purpose of inducing spiritual experiences and cultivating spiritual development. (…)”
What is your experience with Instagram? Do you think social media can be a spiritual discipline? Why or why not?
Christine is a wife and mother of four living in Germany. She’s the type of person who never gets bored: keeping family life running, volunteering, enjoying nature and loving all things creative, like sewing, baking, sketching, crochet, crafting and much more. Within the beauty and chaos of daily life, keeping all her senses open to notice the divine is what keeps her going. So it’s “Life: ordinary, yet sacred”.
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