Everyone has heard the saying "you are what you eat,” a lot of awareness around food and health has come up in our culture today. It is true, what we eat contributes to most of our bodily health. However, something that isn't talked about as much is what we consume through all of our other senses (not just taste). It is important to take into consideration what we intake through our sight, smell, hearing, and touch, which all contribute to our mental health.
Have you ever been to Disneyland or an amusement park? You know that feeling afterward when you are completely exhausted, left wondering what the hell just happened? Or when you spend the day in NYC, and your whole system feels overloaded? These are extreme examples of how your environment impacts your body and state of mind. On a smaller scale, you can think about how your body feels after watching an intense or scary movie. Afterward, you may feel tense, closed off, or unsettled. In our society, we are constantly overloading our senses. And when we're not out doing something really exciting and enticing we find ourselves on social media or with a television in front of us; constantly seeking, seeking, seeking.
Imagine yourself in nature. You can imagine yourself wherever you like, but I invite you to experience my refuge in the woods. There are huge, green trees surrounding you. The sunlight is glistening through the leaves above you, the shadows are dancing on the brown earth beneath you. A deep blue sky is peeking between the foliage. A gentle river is flowing gracefully downstream. Notice the ripples on the surface, how clear the water is, look to the bottom and see the rocks of all different colors. Hear the water passing by, the wind moving throughout the leaves, birds chirping and animals scurrying. Deeply breath in the scent of the pines and the cool water, the scent of the earth beneath you. Feel the perfect amount of warmth from the sun with a light breeze against your skin. Feel the stable ground beneath you. Take everything in. Truly soak it in. Take a few deep breaths, breathing in your surroundings. (Actually stop reading and breath deeply if you haven't.) Relax and let go. There is nothing to do, no urgency, you’re just resting in this space... How do you feel?
Food is the most obvious way of observing the impact of something affecting our body, it is easily seen and experienced. All of the other senses have just as much of an impact on your well-being, it is just harder to observe because it happens on a subtle level. We are constantly being bombarded with information taken in through our senses. In our world, it may feel very daunting to even begin to try to filter what we intake within our surroundings. A little bit of awareness goes a long way. It's not going to happen all at once, but with practice you can begin to take hold of your experience of life and learn to intake things that promote your well-being.
We don't all live in the woods by ourselves carelessly resting in peace and happiness with no responsibilities or obligations. (Do we even really want that?) By beginning to intake healthy impressions we begin to build our mental immune system. So that when we are out in the real world we actually have the endurance to handle and digest some of the chaos we're surrounded by instead of automatically becoming depleted and losing ourselves in it.
What kind of impressions do you intake through your senses? What is your daily life like? What kind of environment do you surround yourself in? How do you feel? Do you find yourself depleted and agitated? Do you ever wish your situation was different?
This is your mind/body's way of bringing your attention to the impressions you intake that are disharmonious. Are there any small things you can change to intake harmonious impressions instead? Maybe spend less time on social media, less time looking at the news, less time watching T.V.; or it can even be something as small as watching a comedy instead of a drama. Ideally, you could spend more time in nature, go for a walk or simply sit in silence.
Disconnect from the material world and reconnect with your true essence.