Cultivating a Health Mind Pt. 1

Earth is the element of digestion, and digestion is not just a physical activity. It’s also a mental activity. Thought is a digestive process. It’s how we digest life. We have an experience, we bring it into us, and we ponder, “Well, what am I to think about what just happened?” It is necessary to think about what life puts on our plate, in order to integrate it. 

Digestion is necessary and inevitable whenever there is input, whether it’s the input of food, or the input of new ideas, or the input of new experiences; and how we digest our experiences matters. Even the finest food, if not digested well, does not lead to good nutrition. Jeffrey Yuen talks about nourishment being half food and half digestion. This is true not just around physical food. It’s also about life experiences. How do we take the raw material of life experience and create nourishment out of it? There are quite a few specifics to this.  

Cultivating a healthy mind first begins with realizing that we have a mind, which sounds elementary, but it really isn’t. A lot of the time, we are thinking, but we don’t realize that we are thinking. We believe that this is reality, when it actually is a thought. 

Frequently, our emotions also are the result of our thoughts. We walk around believing that “This is how I feel.” But very frequently, how we feel is closely related to our thought process. Inside, we are silently thinking to ourselves, “I think this means that I suck,” or “I think this is going to be really, really difficult,” and then those thoughts lead to emotions. 

If we don’t realize that we have a mind, and that there is such thing as a healthier or unhealthier mind, then our mind runs us, but we don’t even know it. It’s almost like we become a slave of our own mind, in its totally unregulated state. 

I saw a bumper sticker that I really loved the other day. It said, “You don’t have to believe everything you think.” That’s very important. It’s really important not to believe everything we think. It requires that first step: realizing that we are thinking. Many people have an inner narrative that is not happening loudly enough for us to hear it. That’s why the first step in cultivating a healthy mind is just walking around for a little while, wondering what our mind is doing, and making our best effort to listen in. What am I thinking? What’s happening in there? 

Look for part 2 of this blog series on August 25th.

Would you like to learn more about building a strong and healthy mind? Join us at the Earth Seasonal Retreat: Cultivating a Healthy Mind, September 24th 2023.

For more Earth element resources, check out our Seasonal Resources page for Late Summer.

To join the discussion, find us on my Perennial Medicine discussion listserv (all are welcome)

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