By changing our eating habits we can decolonize our mindsets.
French Buddhist monk Matthieu Ricard, has been dubbed by media as “the happiest man in the world”. Today we can measure happiness through new technologies that allow us to gauge electrical activity occuring in the brain; heart rate and biochemistry have the power to reveal information about our emotional states.
In 2007 Ricard participated in an experiment that studied what was going on in the brains of people who were experiencing “happiness”. He was able to generate strong physical indicators of both happiness and physical wellbeing by meditating on compassion.
We now know that emotions cause all kinds of changes in our bodies, some negative and some positive. Anger, for example, leads to a stress reaction that compromises our health if we are too long in that state. Compassion, on the other hand, creates a peaceful mindset that promotes physical wellbeing. Science is increasingly discovering that the more we generate positive feelings such as compassion, generosity, and gratitude the healthier we become.
Our ancestors knew this. This is why our prayers, ceremonies, and teachings stress caring, sharing, and thanksgiving. We and Our Relations benefit from this mindset in physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual ways.
Medicine Wheel teachings tell us that our thoughts and feelings are not separate from our bodies. Physically, our bodies are nourished or harmed by the foods we consume. So, what we eat impacts our ability to feel and think in ways that can make us healthy.
I was once the classic case of a woman who ate to numb her feelings about past traumas. I depended on food to make me feel good, even when it wasn’t working. I’ve now learned how food impacts my mind and emotions as well as my body. Refined sugars and other products found in processed foods cloud our thinking; they inhibit our ability to manage feelings that are crucial to our spiritual development, our ability to nurture our relationships, and our capacity to be happy.
It is neither healthy nor possible to permanently repress uncomfortable feelings. Making healthy food choices can clear our minds, helping us to think and feel in ways that benefit us all; it can create space in our minds and bodies for happiness and wellbeing to reside. By changing our eating habits we can decolonize our mindsets.