In our society we obsess over numbers and we let these numbers control our thoughts, which then affect our mood.
Recently, I was asked by a group of office co-workers about joining a “Biggest Loser” competition at work. I respectfully declined, citing that I was spiritually opposed to the concept of weight loss. I got a good laugh out of that comment but to everybody’s surprise I was serious.
Now, let me start by saying that we all know about the obesity problem in our country and the obesity problems that other countries are starting to have. I’m not saying that I don’t think people need to lose weight and live healthier lives. I am opposed to the idea of reaching for a number like 160 and drawing a conclusion that when I step onto a weight scale that the number I should see is 160 instead of 175. Why?
I remember reading a story about how women’s clothing sizes have actually changed over the years because the fashion industry wants women to feel better about the clothing they buy. The idea is that the better you feel you will want to buy more of their clothing. A size 8 versus a size 12 dress is an example of just meaningless numbers assigned by people wanting to manipulate you into buying their product. Because we are focused on numbers that are just made up constructs of reality we lose contact with how we truly feel inside that can lead to spiritual demise.
In order to fight back against this manipulation we have to have a spiritual, meditative and physical practice that allows us to reconnect with our true selves. One of my favorite parts of yoga and meditation is sitting and quietly scanning the body. During this quiet time we learn to look inside ourselves for areas of tension, pain and discomfort. In this time of quiet contemplation there is no scale to look at, there is no meter to get a reading from, all that you have at your disposal is your internal wisdom. When we scan the body there is only one criterion we have for ourselves and that is trying to answer the question, “How do I feel”? This is an expression of reality, an expression of our true selves.
Unfortunately for the large majority of our society today, we have almost completely cut ourselves off from our bodies because we have tuned into the question, “What do I think”? I think 175 is not a good weight, I think I should weigh less, I think I need to wear a smaller pants size. We never stop to ask ourselves, “Why do I think this?” When we purely rely on these thoughts to determine our self-worth we are vulnerable to being manipulated by a constructed, false reality created by whoever wants to control you.
The best way to lead a healthy life is to live a life of balance.
When we can balance our mind, body and spirit we become more aware of our feelings and less concerned about our thoughts. Our feelings come from our spirit and when we can tune into what the spirit tells us about how we feel about ourselves we put ourselves back in control. When we eat, how do we feel about what we are eating? Do we feel as though we are honoring our bodies with what we are putting in it? If not, then change what you are eating. If you feel like you are hungry, then eat until the feeling goes away. Why would you keep eating if the feeling of hunger has left your body? If you feel like you need to exercise then go and exercise until you feel as though you have had enough.
Don’t sit and think that you have to follow whatever the latest issue of whatever magazine is telling you. They tell you that you need to count calories and that you need this many minutes of exercise this many times a week with this heart rate.
What am I spiritually in favor of doing? I’m in favor of getting on your yoga mat or your meditation cushion and following what your mind body and spirit are telling you. If you do these things there should never be a reason to step on a scale again.
Jamie Nicholas resides in southern Maryland. His interests include yoga, meditation and environmentalism. He enjoys writing about men’s issues in the world of yoga. Read more from Jamie on his website, www.manupdogyoga.blogspot.com.
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Assistant Ed: Karla Rodas/Ed: Kate Bartolotta