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“We are all visitors to this time, this place. We are just passing through. Our purpose here is to observe, learn, to grow, to love…and then we return home.” – Australian Aboriginal Proverb
Throughout most of my 20s, I was plagued with chronic depression and anxiety.
I’m delighted to say that I’ve been free from those shackles for the past decade, other than the rare, mild bouts that come with the inevitable ups and downs of life.
This is largely due to the fact that for the past four years, I’ve been living in the woods. It’s not exactly Walden—what with the dog, three cats, husband, and young daughter sharing space. Still, residing in a tranquil forest has certainly altered my life in fabulous ways.
In the United States and other developed nations, while the sheer ease of doing everything has increased exponentially with the advent of so many apps for shopping, food delivery, taxi services, and meditation practices, so has the obvious toxicity of American culture. Wi-Fi microwaves, unlimited screen time, plastic disposable everything, rampant consumerism, invasive advertising, pharmaceutical addiction, all-you-can-eat GMOs and packaged junk masquerading as “food,” and endless media outrage broadcast in our living rooms are just the start of this list.
According to the National Cancer Institute, over 1.7 million new cases of cancer were diagnosed in the United States last year, and more than 600,000 people died from the disease in 2018.
And climate change is real—we can feel it happening and see its destructive effects through the increased amount of devastating natural disasters across the globe.
Here are a few of the most helpful habits I’ve found that led me to health and wholeness in a relentlessly toxic society. May they be of benefit!
1. Less meat, more vegetarian/vegan fare.
According to a GlobalData report, “70 percent of the world population reportedly is either reducing meat consumption or leaving meat off the table altogether.”
Are you among this majority? Eating less meat—or, better yet, skipping it altogether—is the most effective way we as consumers can help slow down and even reverse the tragic deforestation that causes climate change. A wise, longtime vegetarian friend explains his diet choice this way:
“It’s so people everywhere have access to food and no child starves because I have to have a meat-based diet. Those of us who have the luxury of eating whatever we want cannot ignore that our choices determine that some people will starve because most individuals are not willing to give up their cravings for meat.”
Can you reduce your meat consumption? Even if it’s just one or two days a week, that’s a start. Consider incorporating more delicious, nutritious superfoods into your diet instead.
2. Less screen time, more parameters around device use.
While I appreciate how the smartphone places infinity and beyond in our pockets, being connected to the internet 24/7 is highly toxic and unnecessary.
In my house, we turn off our wireless router when it’s not in use: at night, during meals, and any other time we consciously choose to disconnect. My intention is to do the same with the mobile data on my phone. Not to merely silence it, but to actually turn it off and let it be okay not to receive instant notifications of every incoming email or comment on my social media posts.
In order to drop my silly Facebook addiction, I recently deleted the app from my phone. Now, instead of mindlessly opening it up and scrolling multiple times a day out of habit, I have to make the choice to open up the website on my phone or computer browser, which has helped reduce the amount of time I waste engaging with the increasingly creepy social media site.
This is not just a lifestyle choice—it’s for our health and survival. The World Health Organization classifies cell phone radiation as a “possible human carcinogen” due to an increased risk of brain cancer from long-term and heavy use of cell phones.
Here’s to less mindless, addictive online behavior, and more safe, healthy parameters around everyone’s favorite “escape hatch.”
3. Less laziness, more yoga and mindfulness.
While idle laziness certainly has its place in life, developing a discipline of yoga and meditation is the most wonderful way to cleanse our energetic bodies, clear our minds, raise our vibration, and be more loving, kind, productive, happy, and healthy human beings.
Commit to sitting or stretching whenever you can take a few moments to yourself. Making yoga and meditation the first thing we do upon waking is ideal, but we can also schedule our session later in the day, maybe before lunch, at sunset, or prior to bedtime. Whatever works!
Carving out 20 minutes of your day may feel too daunting, so remember that it’s better to practice for five minutes than not at all. More important than the length of your practice is the frequency. To experience the benefits more fully, practice every day.
With perseverance and dedication, this habit is guaranteed to bring less fear and more awe and wonder into your life. As you move through your day-to-day interactions, when anger, fear, envy, hatred, or any type of inner insanity arises, come back to the breath. When joy, excitement, or overwhelm arises, come back to the breath.
Dedicate the merits of your practice to all beings, including yourself. Press the palms together, and feel your connection to the earth, the sky, and your heart. Bow forward with love and gratitude.
All in all, it is a frightening time to be alive. Yet, it’s also an exciting time full of possibility, growth, and fast-moving transformation.
How do you stay sane and balanced in today’s fast-paced, poisonous world? Please help inspire other readers by sharing in the comments.