I really enjoyed the three months during this past year that I went mostly vegan/vegetarian, not drinking, losing weight, getting a bit more exercise and just trying to improve my quality of life by letting go of “suffering”. I reached a goal and was extremely happy with the accomplishment.
The last two months on the other hand, I feel I went back to my old ways.
Where is that Reset Button?
I really liked what I accomplished during those three months and I think I can improve upon that focused lifestyle and have been tossing around seeing how long I can continue living a “poison” free life. In an ironic twist, as I was going through this thought process I was reading Thich Nhat Hanh’s “Anger- Wisdom For Cooling The Flames” where I read the following passage:
Peace Begins with you
Before we can make deep changes in our lives, we have to look into our diet, our way of consuming. We have to live in such a way that we stop consuming the things that poison us and intoxicate us. Then we will have the strength to allow the best in us to arise, and we will no longer be the victim of anger and frustration.
I thought about what other poisons I am inflicted with and the first one I thought about was the caffeine in my coffee. I love my coffee but it contains a stimulant called caffeine. I have also heard withdrawal from it can be pretty rough. I’m up to try it to see if I can rid myself of it. I then wondered about some of the biggest poisons to the mind. It wasn’t too hard to see all the rhetoric involving politics, religion, world news, social media and life in general. People seem to be addicted to rhetoric, sharing rhetoric and getting caught up to the point where they take sides. Rhetoric as team sport! Millions of dollars are spent each year to sway the opinion of people for political and economic gain and they are fooled time and time again. Even I get caught up in the rhetoric when my worldview is challenged. I try to defend it. Going forward, I am going to avoid this poison and the people who are effected by it.
Breaking it down
Nutrition wise, my two biggest issues are over indulgence with food and alcohol. Most days I do well with both categories but occasionally can over-indulge. With high cholesterol, food can be a poison. Over eating causes bloating. While I really liked moving closer to a mostly vegetable diet, I looked forward to animal products in moderation.
Obviously over indulging with intoxicants can also be a poison, we usually see that after the fact when we wake up the next day with a hang-over. To be honest, I don’t feel totally in control after having a few alcohol beverages and feel it best to just stay in control. To do that, I should probably follow the Precept of not taking intoxicants 🙂 I quit smoking over 10 years ago and it was the hardest thing I have ever done but I am happy I did. Coffee/Caffeine seems so small in comparison but I might as well add it to the list…. Purity of Mind!
Mentally, I have discovered so much about myself in this process. Buddhism talks about eliminating suffering and I have analyzed my mind so much over the two years. There have been days and weeks where I really felt good, I wondered if what I felt could be Nirvana, but with each move forward, I found myself falling back to the default, my default is the negative. When I talk about avoiding poisons, these are things that negatively effect my mind. But I am conflicted. I feel like I am going down a strange path that not too many people go down.
I have a fear of leaving that world behind. When it comes down to it, I have choices to make. With friendships, do I put up with someone with a poisoned mind or do I leave that friendship behind in favor of a poison free world? I do know that I cannot help them until I can help myself.
I should have no fears! I should just let go of the steering wheel of life and let life unfold on it’s own random terms.
Embrace the Change!