Have you noticed over the past ten years how many of us have become more selective about what we put in our mouths? I used to be a somewhat unconscious omnivore back in the day. Now I’m likely to pay close attention to what I eat. Sugar on an empty stomach is now a no-no, wheat is suspect, and dairy and I are not the good friends we used to be. It’s not just that we have become more educated over time about the deleterious (Can you say trans fats?) or anti-aging (You want blueberries with that?) effects of different foods on our bodies. We’ve also become more aware of how certain foods make us feel. A few bad experiences and we start putting cause and effect together. This is probably a good thing.
I just finished a wonderful book by the late Eknath Easwaran called, Strength in the Storm: Creating Calm in Difficult Times. He takes issue with the nutritionist’s adage, You are what you eat. Easwaran says, Your body is what you eat—you are what you think. He maintains that who we are is the sum total of our thoughts, feelings and experiences throughout our lives. Our thoughts shape our consciousness and ultimately our character. Like many others, he urges us to be more particular not just about what we put in our mouths but about what we put in our heads. I couldn’t agree more. This is especially true with our exposure to mass media.
The nutritionist would have us ask before ingesting something, “Do I want this to become part of my body?” Before engaging in any activity, be it watching a certain TV show, speaking, reading a long e-mail, worrying, taking a walk, gossiping, etc. Easwaran would have us ask, “Will this make me calmer, wiser, happier?” I think it’s good advice. Just asking the question gives us more control over our lives.
The other thing that struck me in reading his book was something we’ve all heard before—You are the company you keep. People affect us deeply. It’s our responsibility to choose whom we spend our time with. There are many people in our lives whom we may love yet being around them drains us. We need to choose the company we keep because their consciousness and their thoughts will shape us as surely as our own. When we spend time with people (even in books) who inspire us, we become more like them. We may even pick up the traits that we admire in them.
Like the body, the mind needs nourishment. Whatever we think that makes us feel good about ourselves and others, makes us healthier and happier. Sometimes, just being very quiet and still (any form of meditation) is the best thing we can do for our minds and our life.
I wrote and recorded A NEW SONG about this idea a few days ago. YOU CAN LISTEN TO A BIT OF IT BY CLICKING HERE. Hope you enjoy it.
Let me know what kinds of thoughts and experiences nourish your mind.