How did we get here?
My inspiration for writing this post is based on my own experiences. Because of my age, I have plenty of memories living in a non-digital world. We used maps to find faraway places. We had to wait a week to get our photos developed from film. We had to go to the library to find information. Our news came from a daily newspaper or weekly magazine. We had to meet people in real life. We enjoyed the thrill of a letter or package coming in the mail. We didn’t even know who was calling on the phone!
Nowadays we can’t discern fact from fiction. Our minds are constantly bombarded with digital information. Our relationships are volatile and fast. Patience is at an all time low. Everything has to be extreme. Agitation is out the roof.
How can there be peace when the mind can no longer keep up with processing all the inputs?
Everything has to be digested
Imagine the biggest Thanksgiving ever. You arrive and you begin nibbling on some olives and carrots. Then a cheeseball comes out, along with some salads. Next you are scooping up some mashed potatoes, stuffing and turkey, all drenched in gravy. Finally a few pies come out and you’re biting into your favorite one with a scoop of vanilla ice melting around it. And…you have a a cup of coffee to wash it down. As much as your tastebuds thoroughly enjoyed the sensory experience, now your digestive tract has hell to pay. There is a feeling of bloating and fullness. The food coma enters. You wake up from a nap feeling a bit groggy. The food doesn’t really process well. There is food that doesn’t get fully digested and it messes up the system. This is exactly what we are doing to our mental system…it is overloaded, over-stimulated, and not properly digesting the inputs. It too becomes bloated, sluggish, worn out and no longer functions properly.
In both cases, if we continue “eating” this way, weakening the system, discomforts begin to show up. Soon intolerances are born, triggering inflammation. For example, you eat a little wheat, your digestive system goes bonkers. Some gurgling sounds, maybe some gas, a little pain. If you don’t realize that your system isn’t processing this food item, you continue to eat it, and most likely continue to weaken the overall system with additional poor food choices. Now you have IBS. And the deterioration of the system continues.
Same goes for the mind. Perhaps there is an intolerance to hearing news of injustice. Continued reading of social media and sensationalized news triggers stronger responses. Anger sets in. Finally everything is a potential explosion.
Whether physical or mental, symptoms will arise, alerting us there is a problem. This is a normal place to ignore them and consider them “hiccups”. But if lifestyle and food choices continue in the same manner, these little issues will grow until they are either remedied, or become full blown disasters.
Mental digestion is a thing
The mind can become afflicted as much as the body. There is no shortage of mental disease. One way to rebalance the mind is to notice the afflictions and acknowledge them. Let’s create a practice of awareness-building exercises.
As you go throughout your day, keep a journal of some activities. Perhaps you go for a walk, enjoy the neighbor’s gardens, soak up the sunshine. You get home and your mind is happy, relaxed and peaceful. Note that in the journal, one point for healthy, calm mind. Now you’re wrapping up your day and you watch a crime show on tv before bed to “wind down”. After the show, check in. You might notice that you yelled at the dog, got irritated when you couldn’t find the salt for your popcorn and that your mind felt agitated from the show. One point for the not-so-peaceful mind.
The practice is to check in with your state of mind after various activities and acknowledge how you feel. If it is determined that
the mind is calm and relaxed, this is a beneficial activity. If the mind feels agitated, reduce or eliminate that activity in the future.
You now have some insight into your mental agitation triggers. Continue checking in with yourself and remedying as needed. If you realize crime shows are a mentally expensive activity, change it out to something else. Do this with all of your regular activities until you have fine-tuned your routine to keep the mind calm, focused. After a few weeks of this practice, you may notice physical effects as well, because as you know, the mind and body are super connected.
Remedy the habitual, not the individuals
Not to take away the bliss of a beautiful Thanksgiving meal, once a system is strong, it can handle the few crazy things you throw its way over time. Don’t give up your big holiday meal. Don’t give up a stimulating horror movie at Halloween. This is not about perfection. It’s about creating a supportive routine that allows you to indulge from time to time. We are cleaning up habitual patterns, not everything.
We live in a fast-moving digital age. Take some time to slow down, process, and enjoy your humanity. You’ll be rewarded with a deeper sense of peace, happiness and health. I promise it’s worth the price of admission!