Art, Music, Culture, Beautiful Food, and Presence
To fire up, and actually re-condition, the parts of your mind that are keeping you in the present in a state that is healthy, wise, and calm you have to actually behaviorally shift. One obvious way of shifting is to begin a meditation practice.
Once upon a time, prayer was widely accepted as the practice of turning inward. Over the last few hundred years, the decline of organized religion in the west has left an empty space around finding time for or avenues into reflection, insight, and dealing with the pain and turmoil of the human experience. "A spiritual void has sucked the existential meaning from the lives of many. As Immanuel Kant already predicted in 1787, it is no wonder that atheism, materialism and superstition (the countless hybrids of science and spirituality) have firmly manifested themselves in our culture."
The mental health profession has filled the void in many ways, and yet often with the unfortuate consequences of a steep rise in pharma as a alternative to the necessity of being in touch with, connected to, and able to develop coping skills around the full landscape of our emotional, mental, and spiritual selves. No, I am not suggesting you stop seeing your therapist or getting off your meds. I am suggesting being and doing differently to support your growth and progress.
Other ways to indulge in the practice of being present are art, culture, and food. The disappearance of physical, art, and music education has contributed greatly to the spiritual void as it disassociates people from the very parts of their brains that provide access and positive input into a healthfully regulated limbic system. Pouring information into the front brain or only firing up left brain activity has become a terrific mental and spiritual health crisis for humanity. Sitting in meditation, listening to a concert, looking at beautiful art, eating gorgeous and healthy food, watching dance or a creative performance all are data into a healthy, calm, and restful limbic system. They hold us in the moment and (usually) provide inroads to experiences that feel good. And, feeling good is a worthy pursuit.
Here are some of the physical benefits to making behavioral changes, such as starting a meditation practice:
- Boost your immune system
- Reduce stress
- Change the structure of your brain
- Influence the types of thoughts you have
- Deal with mental health concerns e.g. depression, anxiety, ADD
- Increase gray matter
- Minimize distraction
- Boost productivity
- Increase well-being