Everywhere, there are messages of fear — the flu is coming, the terrorists are coming, the glaciers are melting, everything is polluted, we can’t live here much longer. And then there are the messages of salvation — lives are “saved” by some medical procedure, by rescue from some disaster, by a miracle, by a friend. Much of the doomsday warnings are about whether you will succumb to one disease or disaster or another and die too soon, about whether the human race will survive.
Truth is, no one’s life is “saved.” It is only prolonged. The end, however far off, is assured for all of us. But somehow, in our society, we’ve come to hold this subliminal thought that dying is a mistake, it shouldn’t happen, and when it happens too soon, it’s someone’s fault.
I subscribe to the notion that whatever you put your attention on, that is what will show up in your life. If you have a serious wish for something to happen, that will show up. If you have a worry and want something to NOT happen, that will show up too — as in “that which I feared hath come to pass.” (Recently I have been reading a book that expresses that point of view extremely well. It’s called Ask and It Is Given, by Esther and Jerry Hicks. It’s a “channeled” book about the teaching of a nonphysical entity by the name of Abraham — and believe me, I’ve read enough books in this genre over the past 30+ years to be fairly cynical — yet I was delighted to find much new material here for me to chew on.)
Worrying about something that could happen to you might literally bring it into your life. Wishing the same could do so too, but in unexpected ways. I love that story about the guy who wished really hard for a silver Mercedes Benz — thinking about it, dreaming about it, writing about it — until one day he was driving his old Chevy and a silver Mercedes crashed into him. What was the problem? He had forgotten to picture himself behind the wheel! In other words, be careful what you ask for, you might get it.
Here’s another point, brought up by many teachers: that which you fight against will get stronger because of your attention. Ariel and Shya Kane, columnists in this publication, put it this way: “What you resist, persists.” Resisting usually comes from fear — the fear of what might happen.
I’ve given these notions a lot of thought for years. How do they apply in the area of healthful eating? Well, obviously, healthy eating has two major purposes: 1) helping you feel well today; and 2) preventing illness in the future. Let’s look at both of these.
1) Feeling well today is for me the real issue. That is, the quality of present life has the most meaning. That is why I watch what I eat. I also eat what I want, within those parameters. When I eat outside my parameters, it often is enjoyable too, especially in parties and outings. However, I am well attuned to the consequences of my transgressions, and more often than not I just don’t like them. Therefore, I will get back in line again as soon as I can.
2) Preventing illness is a whole different mindset. How do you know you’ve prevented something? How do you know what didn’t happen? Tons of stuff didn’t happen — how do we know it’s because of something we did, or something we didn’t do? Besides, if we go by the idea mentioned above, that what we think about is what we get, this notion wouldn’t work — that is, if we eat in a certain way so as to prevent a particular illness, by focusing on the illness, rather than the wellness, we might just bring the illness about.
Fearing anything, then, would be counter-productive. Fearing any one thing would energize it and bring it into our lives. The whole culture of fear implemented by the current government after 9/11 panders to our fear, motivates us to fear, and keeps us under control because of fear. Not a good idea.
Better to anticipate good things — then we’d have a chance of bringing those into our lives. It is possible, in this society, to choose among many possibilities.
There is a lot of talk these days also about “creating your own life.” The “Bleep” movies and other such material tell us that we are literally the creators of our lives. The implication is that if you just think hard enough everything will go as you wish. Yet we all know that is not always the case. “We can dream the world into reality” — really? And the world as it is, is that what we’ve been dreaming? Our dreams are both conscious and unconscious, expressed and unexpressed. The thing to watch out for is your inner mule, as in the following scenario:
(Your conscious mind): “I expect good health and wellbeing throughout my life.”
(Your unconscious mind): “Yeah, right, but with my genes and my bad luck, that’s not going to happen.”
Guess which one wins!
Perhaps the thing to do is to become very clear and conscious about what we REALLY think. A few years ago I realized that waaaay back in my little mind I had this notion that if I ate really well, I wouldn’t die. That surprised me. It was not a consciously chosen thought — but there it was. I examined the thought — did I really want to live forever? Well, perhaps in spirit, yes — but in this body? I could see how there might come a point when I’d be good and tired of this particular life and be ready to check out, perhaps to start again in some other incarnation if that is how the system works. So physical immortality was not really a true wish for me.
I began to see how many of my food choices came from fear, sometimes unconscious fear. Then I decided that fear was not a good position to come from, and made a conscious decision to come from a position of gratitude and loving acceptance. Not always easy, but it does feel a lot better.
So that is what I have done since then — making a focused effort to be grateful
- for the possibilities and the choices,
- for the abundance that allows me to choose my food as I like it,
- for all the experiences that flow into my life
- for all the people that enrich my experiences, including you, dear reader, as you are giving me a reason to write this column — which I really enjoy doing.