Breaking the Concept Barrier

Many individuals acknowledge the value of unrefined, organic, and non-genetically modified food (GMO’s), yet they rarely purchase it, even when the facts about its quality and benefits are clearly known (Which will be covered in this series so stay updated).  These same individuals may place a great deal of value on their possessions.  They may obtain only the best lubricants for their cars, most expensive accessories (watches, shoes, etc.) and buy fine home furnishings, while they eat the cheapest, poorest quality food.  As modern people, some of us may value possessions more than our own bodies or lives.

Sometimes we tend to neglect our body with cheap food, unhealthy habits, and lack of physical/mental activity.  Do you agree? Do many of us realize this, but have yet taken action?  The human body is magnificent and nothing in the manufactured world can compare to it.  If sensible we would take better care of our body more than any material object.

Why is there so much self-neglect and yet, so much focus and attention on objects?  Sounds like a crazy idea right? But stay with me here.  Some of the possible answers are as follows:

First, we have little experiential awareness of what we are doing.  Meaning, many of us don’t know the effects of the ingredients in processed foods and the benefits of others.  Often times we’re miss led about what is healthy and unhealthy by supplement companies, diets, and many other sources.  Knowing what’s in our food is essential to becoming healthier and reaching your goals (weight loss, empowerment, healthier looking skin, weight gain, sustainability etc.).  Knowing which foods are farmed and produced in particular seasons allows us to make more mindful decisions.  For example, foods bought out of season, such as blueberries, must be imported from other areas.  This creates a larger carbon footprint because they must be transported from distant areas instead of more local farms.  This explains why the cost of some fruits (blueberries, strawberries) and other foods are more expensive during the winter rather than April-August.

Second, we have been blinded by cultural conditioning to focus on object-as-happiness, which can cause lack of respect for our own bodies and lack of compassion for others.  I think we’re all guilty of being really excited about getting presents for Christmas, our birthday, etc.  Most of the time, we buy products and value objects because we want to increase our self-esteem.  Instead of focusing and improving our spiritual, mental, and physical aspects of our self we look for short term remedies.  We instead listen to commercials, advertisements, and give in to social pressures to buying products.  This leads to becoming materialistic.  People focus on their image, and materials too much and lose compassion, relationships, and consideration with others. We spend money buying products we use for a few days, weeks, months, etc. then move on to the next popular object, yet the individual’s self-esteem and other insecurities are still present.

Third, we are not “present” in our bodies because we live primarily through a conceptual level of awareness.  Thus we tend to analyze reality rather than being guided as an open channel for truth.  This may seem confusing, but an exercise taken from the book Whole Foods: Asian Traditions and Modern Nutrition 3rd edition by Paul Pitchford helps explain this thought.  The author suggests this exercise because mindful awareness can influence us to take action to become healthier through a dietary transformation.

Somatic Exercise

  • What are you thinking right now?
  • Where in your body does that thought come from?
  • Notice as a new thought arises, how it is formed.

We often “think” we’re in control, and that we “know” so very much in this Information Age. – Paul Pitchford

The second part of this exercise involves questions that help us assess how much we know.

  • Consider the process of raising your hand, as if to answer a question.  Are you consciously controlling your arm, its nerves, muscles, ligaments, and tendons?
  • How is the thought to raise your arm transmitted to your arm?
  • When you move unconsciously, as may occur during eating, how is this controlled? (trillions of our cells are involved in every physical action)
  • And most importantly, do you experience the guiding intelligence or dharma (Essential quality or character, as of the cosmos or one’s own nature)

Most of us are nearly totally unaware of the many amazing processes involved in our everyday actions.  What we do experience is the thinnest filament or merest fragment of reality.  Yet we walk around coolly, exuding experience, as if to say, “I understand a lot, show me something new”.  We tend to live by rigid concepts rather than by direct, moment-by-moment, childlike, continually transforming, and experience.

Paul Pitchford brings up many points which relate to many aspects of our lives.  Many of us have lost ourselves, and stopped nourishing our mind and body.  We forget how amazing the actions our body perform and take them for granted.  We focus of our materialistic needs but don’t find lasting happiness.  Understanding that we need to nourish our mind and body with quality whole foods, healthy habits, physical activity, and social interaction is crucial to living a healthier lifestyle.  We have the ability to reach our goals and we have the potential to accomplish what we set out to do.  An upcoming article titled, “Emotional awareness, Healing, and Harmony” will delve further into self-reflection, how we clear emotional turmoil, and how this leads to more mindful food choices and emotional harmony.

Source (Much of this article’s writing, and concepts are directly from Chapter 1 of Healing with Whole Foods by Paul Pitchford)

Pitchford, Paul. Healing with Whole Foods: Asian Tradition and Modern Nutrition. 3rd ed. Berkeley, California: North Atlantic Books, 2002. 23-24. Print.

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