I just saw a video about babies who are born addicted to drugs. That isn't what I am writing about (actually quite far form the topic), but I want to share what spurred my decision to be more open about a recent post and why I posted it. I recently posted a video where I was not forthright in what I was getting at. The video was a speed time demonstration of two ayurvedic practices (neti potting and nasya) in a hotel room to O.T. Genasis’ song “I’m in love with the coco” (i.e. I’m in love with cocaine). My video was a tongue in cheek juxtaposition of the self-destructive practices, which we have more exposure to (some of us), alongside the self-loving practices that are lesser known (neti potting and nasya in ayurveda). The reason I didn’t openly address the topic was because I don’t mean to bring shame to the topic of drug use or addictions. Gabor Maté does beautiful work on addictions and discusses how addictions are often filling the void of ritual in our lives. He takes a loving, holistic approach to dealing with addictions (link below). I very much so feel that addictions are a social issue we can have a hand in healing, in however subtle a way.
The reason I made the video had a lot more to do with exposure. Meaning, what is encouraged by repetitive exposure. I watched a TED talk recently which discussed how ‘food porn’ influences our food choices (most foodie pics feature meat, and thus most meals are centered around meat)… (I eat meat, this is also not an omnivore shame). With this influence in mind, my video (however subtle) was intended to increase exposure to healthy practices, putting them directly in place of the hard drugs that the actual song (In love with the coco) and video are popularizing, fashionabilizing, normalizing. I can at the very least speak for myself and say that while I didn’t have a hard drug addiction, I did find myself heavy into protestant work ethic, or the industrial lifestyle of all work no play. My addiction was work. In short, I had made a lifestyle lacking in loving, meaningful practices- Rituals. Now, I really love having full body-loving practices take the place of my addiction to distractions (work, excess entertainment, etc.). My self-care practices are my everyday rituals. I am lucky to have had the resources in my life to learn from (Dana and Cate), to share the hows and whys behind these practices (to satisfy my inquisitive, pitta mind) so that I would value these practices and put them in priority.
A great deal of our choices are shaped by what we are exposed to (knowing the possibilities!). Often we don't choose what is best for ourselves though, because it may come across as snobbery or elitism or even maybe because we will seem uncool. I get that. But, when we make the healthiest decisions for ourselves (or even move in that direction a little bit) without judgement towards others, we encourage ourselves and others to step into the best versions of ourselves. When making the best decisions for ourselves comes without the pretension of trying to be better than, and is instead about learning to be better for all, rather than being exclusive and debilitating, it becomes inclusively liberating.
Being mindful about what habits, rituals and practices we encourage in others... is just powerful. I find often we reduce our actions to how they impact ourselves: "oh, I'll have this __________ (chocolate bar/coffee/drink/pill, etc.) because it won't be that big of a deal for my ________ (skin/weight/crohn's/energy/day/life, etc.)". But, what we choose impacts the micro decisions of others, the choices and actions of those around us. When we choose to explore health in the midst of unhealthy cultural norms it encourages others to take those static first steps for themselves in a healthy direction (whatever those steps are). What we choose contributes to the definition of what it means to be 'man' (and woman... human). This is part of how we create our world, not only our immediate selves.
I hope that as a global community we can make it a priority to model self-care and share meaningful ways to pass the time and spend our life-minutes. Because if we don’t know how to produce the oxytocin (love hormone) and dopamine by bettering ourselves, and by being in love and connection with ourselves and the world around us, then we will find destructive ways of getting the same hit... It really seems to me that exposing one another to life enhancing habits by making decisions we know are healthier for ourselves, even when it is challenging... is a courageous and worthwhile venture. Looking forward to building practices of joy and connection with all y'all.
If any part of this is something you would like to read more about from people who know loads more on the topic(s), these are interesting links to check-out:
- The video in question
- Gabor Mate on The Nature of Things (you can also view from The Nature of Things site)
- Erin Ireland- Is there a bias in our food media?
- How to Neti Pot
- How to Nasya
- How to get ‘high’ on the love hormone (oxytocin)
- My coaches: Dana and Cate
- Jane McGonigal's book SuperBetter which talks about ways of producing dopamine and what it does, OR a Collective Evolution article about dopamine
- Jean- Paul Sartre, Existentialism is a Humanism: When we say that man chooses himself, we do mean that every one of us must choose himself; but by that we also mean that in choosing for himself he chooses for all men. For in effect, of all the actions a man may take in order to create himself as he wills to be, there is not one which is not creative, at the same time, of an image of man such as he believes he ought to be. To choose between this or that is at the same time to affirm the value of that which is chosen; for we are unable ever to choose the worse. What we choose is always the better; and nothing can be better for us unless it is better for all.