I hear this often, especially now, in this era of pandemic. The level of struggle is palpable in both mental health and personal choices as we move forward in the new world. And when I say personal choices, I mean things as basic as “do I open another bottle of wine or go to yoga?”
We all know that we need to move every day, drink plenty of water, avoid sugar and processed food, and meditate for clarity, but we don’t all do it. We invent justifications and delay another day. It seems like we may be “getting away” with it but there is a cost, every single time there is a cost. When we ignore what we know – our internal wisdom – we strengthen an internal disconnect that may feel like guilt, but in reality, creates a sense of worthlessness. Over time, this habitual disconnect affects our mental health in a variety of ways and can lead to a decline in our sense of joy, vitality and internal control.
In Eastern medicine traditions, this is how we create disease, encompassing our physical health, mental health and emotional health.
Choosing to do something that we know deep down is not good for us – by ignoring or overriding our intuition or simple common sense – inevitably leads to trouble down the line.
There is even a Sanskrit word for it: “Prajnaparadha” (an insult to wisdom) is willfully ignoring one’s inner knowing.
An insult to wisdom.
So why do we knowingly make bad decisions over and over? Because it’s a habit, a habit that will catch up with us just as sure as smoking and drinking and drugs will steal our joy.
How do we stop this gradual erosion of health, willpower and self-esteem? By being in the present moment, where our mind and our body are doing the same thing at the same time. By consciously choosing not to prioritize the short-term initial rush of satisfying the cookie craving – the first taste of it in your mouth – and valuing our own health and sanity as more important.
It’s the foundation of Prajnaparadha: being aware of your body’s innate needs and responding to them as important and worthy – you deserve to be thriving and healthy – and supporting yourself with compassion and love along the way.