Lately I’ve been thinking about how a healthy “diet” means so much more than the food we put in our mouths. What about the the “food” we feed our minds?
We all know that good nutrition means a diet consisting primarily of fresh organic fruits, vegetables and grains but we live in a fast paced culture where “convenience” takes precedence over “quality.” So, often we find ourselves grabbing pre-packaged, processed foods (which even if they are organic) are no substitute for fresh whole foods. But, we’re always “on the run” so we hardly even notice when we substitute a power bar for breakfast or a cold, pre-packaged salad for a warm home cooked meal.
What is true about the food we feed our bodies is also true about the “food” we feed our minds. We gobble up pop culture images, movies, news programming, social media posts, commercials and headlines that are filled with empty, mind-numbing (and way too often) hateful and violent content. This content is so prevalent, we are hardly even aware of how much of it we consume every day. More importantly, we pay little attention to how deeply this “mind food” affects us.
Lately, as I sit in meditation I’m noticing how deeply influenced I am by the “diet” of mass media that I consume. I see how often my mind is pulled away from the moment by thoughts of what I have watched, read or heard. I catch myself rehashing an episode of something I saw on Netflix or an incendiary story I read on my newsfeed. Clearly a substantial amount of my brain space is taken up by the trials and tribulations of fictional characters and sensationalized news stories.
What does this mean for my mental health? What does it mean for yours? I’m not entirely sure but I do know that we all need to take just as much care with what we feed our minds as we do with what we feed our bodies.