THE COMFORT OF FOOD AND “RELIGION”
There is something that I have noticed over the many years of attending groups that often take place at healing centers, yoga satsangs, churches, temples and synagogues. I have not, as of yet, been to a mosque. In general, the physical health of the majority of the attendees does not look very strong to me. On the other hand, when I have been to fitness, yoga, or athletic events there is often a hard competitive edge to the buff crowd. Add to that a strong sense of superficiality. The fitness crowd usually does look better, at least on the surface. Plus the majority of the crowd are younger. This is a generalization, and a pretty reliable one. I do realize there are people that work on embracing both physical and spiritual health. But my experience is they are not the majority.
MAC AND CHEESE WILL ALWAYS PLEASE
At this time, I live in a desert area of southern California. There are a few healing centers that I have gone to for different kinds of group activities and workshops. There are some churches that we have attended for social events with friends who are members. A NYC and Upstate NY second home owner of the past, I have gone to many church events, while living there. At 99% of these church events there is usually a very welcoming feeling and the people seem kind. The food served is a mixed bag of 1960’s health food, mainstream comfort food and just plain junk. The message I derive from my experiences may be a stretch for some: The connection between health and the quality of what we eat has not been concluded by medical science. Also, the belief that food is the primary substance that is more than okay to have an overriding weakness for. The other is work. It is okay eat to comfort yourself about how much you hate your job.
One message: traditional medicine is the “go to” place for aches, pains and whatever else that ails you. Back that up with some crystal, reiki or other kind of healing therapy. You can try eating “healthy”, but when it comes to long term health, that is a crap shoot. You might as well indulge, meditate, chant and pray. In the end you will probably go down the traditional path and end up in the hospital, assisted living or nursing home. Oy.
In this desert community there is not, to my knowledge, a significant health conscious community, but it is not completely absent. There are some individuals out there. This is evident because of the existence some health food stores and a couple of organic restaurants. The main thing that draws many to explore healthier living, in my experience, is from a broad and very personal array of reasons. Curiosity sometimes sparked by fear and paranoia from the media and their intuitive sense. In some cases just plain old common sense. Many people are questioning the way family members, as well as themselves, have suffered from our societal way of living, eating and the traditional medical paradigm. They are observing that band- aiding symptoms, both physical and mental, with drugs really is not working. Band-aiding with supplements ain’t workin’ either. This will become more and more apparent in the coming years.
A RABBIT HOLE
My point is that many are deeply limited by their addictions. The religious / spiritual rationale that we are just human. not sacred deities, is a rationalization to not change. Food and work are the most acceptable addictions in all kinds of communities. The use of new age spirituality or traditional religion as a crutch is pervasive. To not face the responsibility that we all have to ourselves and to our community is destroying our collective and individual health. It is also destroying our economy. What is our responsibility? To face how the quality and quantity of what we eat, and the way we live, and using drugs to mask symptoms deeply effects our health, our families, communities and the world.
Pay now or pay later is a reality. This truth is greatly ignored because of the addictive nature of people which is exploited by the powerful fast food, drug and other industries. How many of us are invested through the stock market in the same companies that are destroying the ecological health of the planet and its citizens? We can not afford to be sick and yet, we are so addicted to the things that are creating ill health. It is a huge blind spot.
The other night at an evening workshop, one of the attendees mentioned that it was their birthday. In their late 50’s, someone wished them many more years. The person recanted with a “no thanks” and that they had had their share of life’s lessons. Not verbatim, but damn close. Look, everyone has their experience here and it is definitely not all the same. Obviously, this person’s words were heard by me. I am not going to go into my perception of the general appearance of this person, but it was not good.
Our addictions are sickening us and numbing many, many individuals from taking meaningful, or any, action. At this time I live in an area where many people glorify the 1950’s. Steak houses, martini cocktails, cigarettes, streets names after that eras icons, and gas guzzling cars are proudly driven. I understand these romanticized feelings, but it is an anchor that is no longer truly stabilizing us. It is pulling us down. Spirituality and religion are, on a greater scale. deeply helpful when they lift us up. Putting our heads in the ground until the time for our physical bodies to return there does not sound like something to aspire to. More like the last hours of the Titanic.
What typifies the disconnect can be seen in the protestation of Sarah Palin in November of 2010. Her behavior after Michele Obama proposed her desire to encourage daily fitness and lessen / eliminate sugary and refined foods in the schools. Palin showed up at school with sugary cookies. Her argument? That government should stay out of what we feed our children. Similar, in my mind, are the people at churches and healing centers, often struggling with health problems. People looking for healing and not addressing the issue from one of the most primal areas: the quality and quantity of the food that we put into our mouths.
Just to reiterate, I do know there are people who are spiritually connected and very health conscious. I acknowledge these people. I am one of them.
THE BODIES BRAIN: THE GUT
There are ways to live in society, make healthy choices, not feel helpless around sugar. Constantly arm wrestling with food and other addictions is exhausting. I am currently exploring the website and videos of The Unique Healing Program Donna Pessin. Her work is designed to heal the body and mind at one of the most primal levels, the digestive system and gut. Truly worth checking out.
Postscript 12/2013: I have been part of the Unique Healing Program Donna Pessin since 3/2013. I highly recommend researching her information. It has truly changed my life for the better. It is not a quick fix, but I do believe a lasting one.