Simple is Good

Simple is good. I have not always leaned in this direction. I have a strong mind and am prone to complex thought. Now, in this age of information, there are so many perspectives available to consider on any topic. I frequently get lost down the rabbit hole by following a piece of information that I find curious. Before I know it, several hours have passed.

Yet I find my mind turning to the question of how to simplify this thing called optimizing our health, wellness, life. What would be the bare bones of it? Increasing levels of complexity may be the wrong direction at times.

My reflection this morning is leaning towards how to simplify by limiting our toxic exposures. Simple, right? Well, maybe not, but if we find the simplest, most potent steps to minimizing our toxic exposures we could possibly “scale” our impact and have a powerful affect on our sense of wellbeing. Once we ingest a toxin, we ultimately have to spend energy releasing it. Far simpler to limit our intake! 

While we are all exposed to environmental toxins such as air and water pollution, the majority of toxins we take in everyday are from our food, personal care lotions and potions, and household cleaning products. This is the area we have most control over. I am a strong supporter of investing in one’s own health by eating organic, unprocessed food and using non-toxic personal care and cleaning products since what we put on our skin is absorbed and enters our internal systems (as if we had eaten them). The Environmental Working Group is a great resource for finding clean foods and products.

Another approach for reducing toxins in our lives is by turning our attention to our thoughts. Do we harbor thoughts that are unkind or judgmental towards others or ourselves? Do we misinterpret benign situations as dangerous? If left unattended, these thoughts can create disharmony in our physiology by keeping us in a state of stress that sends a signal of threat to our nervous systems.

Our minds produce judgments and mistaken threats out of our conditioning (individual and collective), so really we should not be taking this particular function of our mind personally.  We can actually neutralize these types of toxins by simply seeing them. We don’t need to get rid of them as much as deflate or de-energize t
hem by seeing them as hollow and cloud-like.  Thoughts are ephemeral, transient, often habitual, which is to say they are only here because they were here yesterday. It is the seeing of them as “thoughts,” rather than absolute truths about ourselves or our world, that is the key to not being controlled or dominated by them.

I find it constantly reaffirming to remember that every human is up against these same thought patterns; this is really, really not personal. Yet we can make a powerful contribution to our lives and to the lives of others by simply seeing judgmental thoughts as judgment thoughts, not truths, not indictments, not facts and often as not even relevant. Seeing them as such allows us to release ourselves from their grasp and be guided from a deeper place of wisdom within. 

Our awareness is our brilliant light within. We can practice simply observing without getting involved as a way to not be unwittingly influenced by our judgmental thoughts. In its pure form, awareness is simply the neutral observer, without a perspective of its own. Like a camera lens – recording, seeing whatever is in view but not taking a position on what is being viewed.

Granting ourselves this kind of space in our lives is huge! Do not underestimate the power of self-observation. By simply seeing, we can neutralize one of the greatest sources of toxins in our lives, our own thoughts. This is a giant step in the right direction.

There are many resources to help you exercise this muscle. Eckhart Tolle and Pema Chodron’s many books are excellent, as are any books on mindfulness, that support building the muscle of present moment awareness.