Happy holidays! I have been meaning to publish this short piece for a while now, but the past few weeks have been especially busy. Now that I finally have a moment set aside – in the wake of the events in Newtown, CT – I questioned the timing of this post. After careful consideration, however, presenting this topic RIGHT NOW might just be the perfect timing. I trust you will agree.
During a recent trip to the local library – while looking for books on Pranayama – I came across A LIFE WORTH BREATHING, written by MAX STROM. Chapter 10 of this book, entitled “Avoiding a Near-Life Experience”, deeply resonated with me. I have done my fair share of explaining to various people the HOW/WHAT/WHEN/WHERE of my dietary transformation, but not until I read this chapter did I completely and truly understand the WHY. Therefore, I would like to share an excerpt from this chapter with the hope that it may inspire you to make a positive change in your life.
I will preface the excerpt by noting that this chapter explains the philosophy of developing a more harmonious relationship with death, in order to live a more fulfilling life.
“It could be argued that all anxiety, in its universal context, is generally rooted in fear of death of the body, ego, or the end of conscious existence. Anxiety toward the unknown, at its base, is fear of harm or death. Fear of loss of control is also, it its base, fear of harm or death. Because of this gnawing anxiety toward death, many – if not most – people respond by going into denial, choosing to live as if physically immortal. This begins at a very young age, sometime during childhood. This of course results in reinforcing a paradigm of illusionary existence, as we then make important life choices based on a subconscious belief in physical immortality. This creates a distorted relationship with life, and, deep down inside us, we know it. Then, one day, when the eventuality of death appears before us – either suddenly or as the result of old age – because we have not progressed in our relationship with death since childhood, it can terrify us to our very core.”
Relating this to my former eating habits, the “physical immortality” represents me grubbing on porterhouse steaks and twice-baked cheesy potatoes for years without legitimate fear of consequence. The “paradigm of illusionary existence” represents something I believe we all unfortunately share, which is the distorted societal norms surrounding food. And the part about being terrified to the core represents precisely how I felt when I saw my health going downhill quickly. That is when – and now I fully can appreciate why – the change happened for me. And it has been a permanent one.
Obviously, Strom’s words resonated with me as I related them to my diet. Looking at the excerpt more broadly, however, it can be applied to many different aspects of our daily lives. We just need to open our minds and be honestly self-aware in order to take active steps toward opportunity and advancement. If you are sacrificing personal fulfillment because of denial – be it due to convenience, complacency or because it fits the status quo – I challenge you to break free and work towards a better future. Namaste!