Are you thin obsessed?
You’re probably thinking this is a blog about weight loss or dieting, but it isn’t. It’s no secret that we are a thin-obsessed nation and most everyone is on a diet at some point. Each morning on my way to my prayer altar I take a glance in the mirror as a walk down the corridor and nasty thoughts always creep up. They sound something like this… “you need to start working out your upper body, you could stand to lose a few pounds, you ate too much last night”. Within the first few minutes of waking my ego has taken over and has found a way to pummel me to the ground. This morning I lay awake and didn’t get up right away. I said my initial prayers in bed and asked my usual question ‘what do I need to know today?” The guides quickly responded…”this society is thin obsessed”. My initial reaction was “Duh!” but then they elaborated.
It’s needless to say that we are physically thin-obsessed. Dieting has become a multi-billion dollar industry, there is a gym on each corner, and every third commercial is for a weight loss supplement. Even the spiritual practice of yoga has become a workout trend for the physical body. Are you aware that in Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras the asanas (the poses) are a miniscule portion of the writing? The reality is that the poses were meant to strengthen the spine to sit longer in meditation. This has been taken to our thin-obsessed nation as another weight loss modality to honor the physical body rather than the spiritual practice it was intended to be.
The guides continue…we are also thin-obsessed with our mind and thoughts. We as a society are unable to remain focused on any one thing for more than a few seconds. We jump around from thought to thought and never remain present. Our thoughts are focused on what we need more of or what we haven’t done, rarely enjoying the moment we are living in. We are confused, thinking happiness lives in the past and future… “When I had…when I am…When I don’t have to …” …rather than in the right now. These thoughts lead our actions and why so few are satisfied at this moment. To paraphrase a parable noted by Thich Nhat Hanh which says… the most important person in the world in the person in front of you and the most important thing you have to do is what you’re doing at this moment; however, we pride ourselves on multitasking and we are always planning ahead or looking behind. Children within a few months of birth are handed an iPad or LeapFrog and are welcomed into our ADHD culture. We have picture in picture so we don’t miss a show and can watch 2 at once. No wonder our thoughts are thin! Try sitting in silence for 2 minutes. Analyze the amount of thoughts racing through your mind and consider their content – this will usually indicate where your focus lies.
Another area we are thin-obsessed with is in our relationships. So little of us reach outside our comfort zone to develop relationships with our neighbors or those in the community. Our focus has shifted from the family to the workplace. We spend more time on the phone talking to our boss or talking about work than knowing what is going on with our children. If you do not have a child in sports, I invite each of you to slow down and drive by a park in the evening. Watch the dynamics on the field. The children are playing and the parents are on their phone or iPads working. In the Devil Wears Prada, Adrian Grenier says to Anne Hathaway “You know, in case you were wondering – the person whose calls you always take? That’s the relationship you’re in.” The point is that we have thinned our relationships to those who will give us a promotion, make us feel good or receive praise from. This is temporary satisfaction and means nothing. Being an obsessed workaholic was never written on a tombstone as praise, but I’m sure there are many buried in this country. If those that matter do get a speck of our time, we cannot concentrate on the conversation because we are staring down at our phones. But let’s forget about failure to cultivate a relationship with others. Most of us cannot sit still with ourselves or God. “Man Know Thyself” is inscribed at Delphi. But how many of us do the work to really know ourselves? If we have a few moments of free time we are bored or googling something because the quiet time with ourselves is scary. What if we find out something we don’t want to know. What if God does speak through us and we don’t like what we are told? We prefer to silence the intuition and the space where our divine-self resides with Google and Instagram.
So we are obsessed with our body and mind….what about spirit? Thin? It’s practically absent from the picture! The true antidote to everything the guides mentioned is engaging in some sort of spiritual practice. Whether it is meditation, yoga, breathing, chanting or prayer, we have a lot to gain from regularly incorporating some spiritual aspect into our lives. When we pay attention to our breath we start slowing down. And, you will notice that as you count your breaths you don’t have time to listen to your thoughts. When you chant, it raises your spirits and instead of wanting to be in a gloomy work atmosphere you run home to your kids or loved ones to help you maintain that same elevated vibration. When meditating, you become centered and clear your mind. You have silence (which is what we all need) to hear the inner voice of God that lives within (BTW the only messages you’ll hear are of true love!). When you pray, you are surrendering to something higher and there is no more special relationship.
Our weight obsessed, work obsessed culture doesn’t produce. We are sick and unhappy. Incorporating one spiritual practice into your life, that you do consistently, will help to keep you in balance and re-focus your life on what really matters.
So FATTEN UP YOUR SPIRIT and the rest will all work out!