What do you feed your mind?
We’re all aware of the modern truism that “you are what you eat”. The food that we put into our bellies, thanks to the wonders of the digestive process, passes on its energy to the body, helping us to create new cells and to stay alive and well. And we’re all aware on some level that the better our diet, the healthier these new cells will be. But have you ever thought that the same might be true of your mind?
The impressions we let in through the five senses are, if you like, our mental diet; they become the new building blocks of the mind. Yoga encourages us to think just as carefully about the information we perceive with our senses as the food we eat, for that information has a direct impact on the health of the mind. Just as we sometimes stuff ourselves with delicious food to the point where we’re barely able to move our legs, we can also, often without realising it, overindulge the senses. This leads to a kind of mental bloat, where the sense receptors in the brain struggle to process all the impressions flying at them, and gradually the mind becomes clogged.
For the dedicated Yogi, the solution to sensory overload is simple: a spell of Sadhana, or complete withdrawal from the external world and its distractions. For the rest of us, with daily lives to run, it’s a bit more complex. But we can minimise the stress on the mind: just as you can stop yourself from overeating you can consciously give the mind some downtime.
Take 5 minutes on the train and close your eyes, consciously turn the TV off and sit quietly for a few minutes, or enjoy the silence of the early morning without the accompaniment of the day’s headlines. It’s amazing how a little bit of quiet time for the mind can create a sense of peace and quiet in oneself.
Image by CEIP Sambori