Video Games Are My Zen Meditation

M.B. Sanok

People complain about how playing video games is bad for you, contributing to a sedentary lifestyle, anti-social behavior, major time-suckage, and a host of other issues.  However, I find them a form of Zen meditation. Keep in mind that I’m not talking about Grand Theft Auto or anything like that.

After a long day or stressful situation, I find some video games the perfect antidote in unwinding and laying out any problems in a less combative, less reactive and less nerve-wracking perspective.  My games of choice could be classified as puzzle games.  Candy Crush, the current popular favorite (who doesn’t have a friend on Facebook trolling for new lives or boasting about their most recent level conquest up Candy Mountain), provides the repetition I need to refocus my mind and ruminate on the day’s events as I arrange blue bon-bons and multicolored nonpareils into striking patterns.

Also, I enjoy computerized Mah Jong games.  When I was working on my college newspaper, I’d take a break by loading up a version that offered a fortune every time you successfully solved a puzzle.  The puzzles took shape in several forms, including animals, so I challenged myself to work on different ones.  Although I haven’t discovered another version that provides a fortune as a reward (fortune cookies, horoscopes — I foolishly love reading those pseudo-self-help quotes), I still relax during it and piece together my day.

Separating the bad from the good, what people said or did and how I reacted to them and to different scenes throughout the day, and what my future held.  Even if the next hour of my life contained only more game-playing, reading or deciding what I ate for dessert, it didn’t matter.  What appeals to me is the act of separating, sorting, clearing and filling out a board or display.

In reflecting about the games I choose, I generally pick ones that engage the mind in almost monotonous, repetitious actions.  I’ve played games like the originally Japanese Bust-a-Move, any type of Solitaire, and Bejeweled, the precursor of the current king of computerized games, Candy Crush.  Although not one of my favorites, Tetris fits this category.

My favorite Mario-based game is Dr. Mario.  Getting rid of the viruses and configuring them to clear the screen distracted me from most anything.  Mind you, I didn’t play these games when I had work to do or in lieu of spending time with friends or family despite my marriage to a proud gamer.  It was just another form of relaxation and of letting my active mind rest and recharge.

I get the same relaxed, meditative feeling from solving a puzzle like Sudoku, crossword puzzles or word searches (I really sound like a Golden Girl now).  All the pieces fit in a certain way or show a particular word or phrase, and it’s up to me to fill out and complete it.  In the mornings, when I’m truly not ready to face the day, and I’m in the middle of my precious morning coffee ritual, I’ll work on a puzzle in pencil. (Quaint idea, huh?)

Varying reports compare and contrast the validity of puzzles such as crosswords in helping in the prevention of Alzheimer’s and/or dementia.  Whether they do or not, I still find them  stimulating and relaxing.  My brain needs that type of food, so I’m feeding it.

As I play Candy Crush on my new phone, I’m thinking these thoughts.  Call me a gamer girl geek, but I love these games.  Sometimes, I’d consider them better for me than a therapist or sounding board or even Xanax or another psychotropic drug (well, unless it’s for a gnarly dental procedure).  When playing a puzzle game, I enter a zone like meditation where momentarily my greatest concern is piling up like icons and clearing a colorful screen.  It’s cyber Zen meditation! Whether you win or lose, don’t feel guilty about your Candy Crush addiction — it’s just how you play the game.


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Video Games Are My Zen Meditation

This post was syndicated with permission to BonBon Break Media LLC.

M.B. Sanok is a freelance writer and stay-at-home mom living with her family in South Jersey. She is a contributing writer for Jersey Moms Blog, and her work has also appeared in South Jersey MOM magazine, MetroKids MomSpeak, and on BlogHer. In her spare time, she volunteers for the International MOMS Club, a non-profit support group for stay-at-home moms.