For many years, my first thought in the morning was filled with anxious curiosity, wondering what digits the scales would show that day.
The result of that display would define my mood for the remainder of the day, my choice of meals, my level of planning how to avoid social gatherings that involved food—and much more complex thought constructs generated by the entity called “anorexia” that was controlling my life.
I was basically reciting the most complex web of mantras (or negative affirmations, I probably should say) that my mind was focusing on at all times—so much so that there was little time for me to actually notice the outside world.
You are probably asking what all this has to do with you, your insecurities, and the planet.
Buy this dress and you will be more beautiful.
Purchase this new phone and you will be happier.
Get this new diet pill and loose the weight you always wanted to drop.
Purchase this lipstick and be more attractive and find the partner your heart yearns for.
We all are familiar with the messages. We have become used to them. We think it’s normal to consume for emotional fulfillment. To fill holes that stay empty. We have become used to shopping and discarding and shopping again. Clothes, electronics, makeup, shoes—items that are supposed to last for decades have become status symbols lasting for just months before they are replaced—before they find their sad ending in a landfill.
We are willing to ignore the fact that many of those items’ production contributed to the pollution of the planet, to the exploitation of fellow humans, and that they will likely eventually end up in a landfill.
They make us feel better though—those products, those distractions, those momentary thoughts our minds focus on. They make us look better at that next party. They might get us that promotion. And that feels worth it in the moment. For many of us, we are so absorbed in our dreams, fears, insecurities, and anxieties that we have no space to question the dead-end of this situation.
Well, once I started to finally wake up from the anorexic hypnosis, I remembered the miraculous complexity and joy of life, along with the horrifying facts of pollution, terror, and depletion present. Once I let go of the comforting, destructive addiction of attempting to make this chaotic life feel more bearable, I actually started noticing and genuinely caring again.
Not every one of us has an eating disorder or severe addiction, I am well aware of that. However, many of us are hypnotized to some degree by things that give us the illusion that this chaotic life feels controllable and all of these distractions actually keep us from making a difference on this planet that could bring us closer together, fill that hole inside, and take better care of our planet.
Those of us who have been on any form of spiritual path have been introduced to the idea that “we are all one.” It seems to me, though, that this concept appears too complex in a world that has so many demands.
How can we “all be one” if, “I need to pay the rent,” “I really need to get that promotion,” “I want to be as pretty as her,” “You don’t know what it really feels like to suffer from depression,” “I want to escape this job I hate,” “I need to take care of my sick mother,”
As you can imagine, this list goes on. Our lives are full. Packed!
How long can we afford to stay in this rat race, ignoring the silent dark circles under our planet’s eyes? As you might have heard in the heat around the Paris Climate Agreement debate a few weeks back: We don’t have much time to team up and protect our planet. How long are we going to stay in our isolated hamster wheels, chasing after things that (for a big part) don’t seem to fill that hole inside? What are you chasing in your wheel?
For me, it is gentle time in pristine nature. Cuddles with my love—and with our dog. Evenings spent reading. Gatherings with friends and family. Moments of art and creativity. None of those things are found in the hamster wheel. None of those things require consumerism (well except for the bed on which we cuddle and the groceries we cook for our friends —but I think you get what I’m saying).
The moment I step into that hamster wheel, the moment I start freaking out about being overwhelmed, or not good enough, or too fat, or any other negative, insecure, competitive internal reinforcements, I step away from caring.
Many of us have found some form of relief technique from the intensity that life can bring. I have been challenging myself to step out of that comfort bubble to see what’s happening outside of it. To take the time to ask questions.
It is uncomfortable at times. Sometimes extremely uncomfortable as a matter of fact, and still I’d love for you to join me. Because beyond the discomfort, there is an indescribable relief when we stop putting energy into distracting ourselves from the truth and start looking at what really matters.
Author: Christina Zipperlen
Editor: Danielle Beutell
Copy Editor: Nicole Cameron
Social Editor: Yoli Rammazina