Blog #4 – Crimes Against Wisdom: A Yogi Gone Bad, Consciously!
This is the 4th blog in an ongoing series of a yogin’s intentional “crimes against wisdom.” This series will highlight my experience of purposefully ignoring 10 years of training in yoga, meditation and ayurveda in favor of performing typical current cultural behaviors of modernity. It will catalog all the negative symptoms endured, explanations of the principles broken, insights gained along the way and the entire “recovery process” as I return to a life based on staples of natural wisdom. You can find the 1st introductory blog here, and you can sign on for the RSS feed, here by choosing the appropriate link in the top right corner of the page. Please also feel free to “like” our FB page: here follow us on Twitter, here and share the fruits of this experiment with your friends.
Balance = Health; Health = Happiness. Imbalance = dis-ease; disease = suffering (usually).
I really feel like shit. Seriously. I am not just saying this to make this blog exciting and dramatic. I am bloated, I feel tight everywhere, I have pain in my joints, and not more 30 minutes after showering I stink with sour b.o. In the previous 3 years I had completely thrown away deodorant. Now, it is a compassionate necessity.
I can see why people look to distractions nearly every moment in order to escape from feeling their actual situation. I have only been living this way for a matter of weeks and already I sense a tendency to check out. Feeling like crap is a multi-billion dollar industry. I don’t only mean the pharmaceutical companies that invent diseases and syndromes to fill our urge to medicate our every discomfort. I am not one of those conspiracy theorists who is going to spew on and on about the evil machine, a.k.a. the man. We get what we ask for. We are responsible for our own lives and the choices we make about how we live them.
But, in addition to the bullshit medicines we take for bullshit reasons, our want to dissociate from the pains of treating our bodies like consumption-puss-bags, is also the well-spring for entertainment, drugs, alcohol and all manner of addictions, gossip, daydreaming, over-working, emotional drama, etc – anything to NOT feel THIS.
Frankly, I am beginning to see why. I don’t blame us. It doesn’t feel good to feel like shit (eat your heart out Yogi Berra!). However, the manner in which we go about feeling better usually doesn’t work. I am astounded to hear, “You have a headache? Take some motrin.” “Heart-burn? Here’s some antacid?” How about: stop trying to do ten things at once and take a nap rather than having a cup of coffee when you’re tired – headaches gone. Or, maybe just one hot dog every 6 months at the ball game rather than 3 in one night – bye-bye heartburn!
Numbing out to the symptoms of our own poor choices, whether with medications, TV, Internet, or overwork, erodes personal responsibility for our own well-being. Over time, this makes us soft. Eventually, we lose the integrity of our spirit as we give away our self-agency to doctors and advertising agents.
We consider it a sign of freedom to be able to have what we want, whenever we want it. But this is not freedom, at least not necessarily. Human beings can find freedom in any and every situation, but usually, having everything at our fingertips just makes us spoiled, lazy and compulsive. We throw natural wisdom in the toilet when we consider that people who say, “It doesn’t make sense to piss and crap into clean drinking water, we should compost it” are considered the “weird” ones. (Sorry, that was a totally random point, but you’ll have to forgive me, I haven’t been exercising or eating very well and I’m a little off!)
As an example of what I am talking about consider what happened a few weeks ago on a cold, dark, cloudy New England evening. My mom said, “Let’s get ice-cream.” My dad didn’t need to be asked twice. I tuned out the natural wisdom bells ringing in my head, and said, “Absolutely.” As we waited for them to make some fresh new waffle cones for our consumption I watched multiple customers in line shivering. I am not kidding. In a ten minute span I saw 3 different people order ice-cream while shivering. Of those already eating their treat, a few were already showing visible signs of snot running out of their noses. I wonder how many of those people missed work the next day perplexed as to where they “caught” their cold.
Ayurveda is not a system for losers that never like to have a good time. Being healthy is not mutually exclusive from enjoying an ice-cream cone. But, we also recognize that the secret to life is simply lining ourselves up with natural principles. We don’t need to try so hard to be happy. Everybody is struggling on this search for the illusive “H” word, but we’re looking for love in all the wrong places. Or, at least, we’re looking in all the wrong ways.
Happiness is inherent. It is our natural state. We don’t need to add anything to us to “get happy”, we simply need to remove obstacles and allow our true nature to shine. One of the most fool-proof ways of doing this is by harmonizing the microcosm of our individual experience with the macrocosm of our natural environment. Thus, on a cold, cloudy, evening there is already enough qualities of cold and wet in our environment. It is not a good idea to add the very same qualities that exist in ice-cream into our internal composition.
This excess will lead to disease – maybe just a common cold, maybe diabetes, maybe complications that arise from being overweight. Who knows? But, whatever the outcome, even if not immediate, eventually, ignoring nature’s laws will result in a problem that will force us to give up our self-agency time and time again.
When we are sick we have to depend on others to care for us. We may become wards of the state and be a burden on tax payers, or maybe we’ll need to use our savings on a nursing home. Maybe it’s no big deal and it’s just a cold. But, at $8.99 for a bottle of cold medicine the drug companies are stoked that we don’t have a clue about how to govern ourselves according to natural wisdom.
Real freedom is born from discipline and restraint, not to mention common sense. But, when I ask my dad at the ice-cream store, “What size should we get?” and he responds, “Might as well get the large, you can always throw it away,” this is not happiness. This is compulsion and greed. Everyday (except for the last 5 weeks for me) in our school of classical tantrik yoga we orient ourselves with a prayer that says, among other things, “I am free to do, and free NOT to do.” Overall, in my time in America I see that we need to exercise the latter part of this statement more than the former.
People think it’s a bummer to be healthy, or they think other things are more important for their precious time than making the necessary effort to cultivate wellness. They may not admit that that they feel this way, but it is evident in that they prioritize other things over their well-being in life. The best is when people say that taking time to meditate, nap, or going out of one’s way to eat well is excessively self-indulgent! This is so ridiculous. If only these people could see how selfish it is to NOT take such good care of one’s self.
I hope this blog can demonstrate via contrasting extremes that it is worth it to make health according to natural wisdom a number one priority. I don’t mean becoming a health-nazi. I mean simply taking the time every day to relax a little and to learn something about a traditional way of viewing the world via systems like ayurveda, traditional Chinese medicine, (or, for my first totally shameless plug in this series, online with Energy of Mind!) etc. Then, having learned something of real value, apply it to your life, practically. Look for results, challenge yourself.
Real wisdom will empower you, it will make you strong not just in body, but in spirit and mind as well. This is the path to lasting happiness that you will not find in the pill bottle, the ice-cream cone, the TV show, the next successful job, or even the best screw. May all beings be happy and free.