The above NYT article profiles a model who walked away from the industry and turned instead to a life of yoga and ayurvedic health. Ayurveda sounds similar to Chinese traditional medicine (and other Eastern health traditions, I imagine) in that it categorizes foods as “hot” and “cold” based on amorphous “essential properties.” He recently wrote a book entitled, The Guru in You, in which ginger and ghee are praised, while oil and microwaves are given handsome’s thumbs down. “Now and then Mr. Alborzian drinks a teacup full of ghee, or rubs a dab of it inside his nostrils.” Sexy.
The article ends on this note:
Doesn’t such an intensity of dietary awareness prevent him from just enjoying food?
“Food has now become a burden to us,” he said. “A lot of people don’t look forward to life anymore. They just look forward to food. People tell me, ‘But I love food.’ And I tell them, ‘You can’t love something that owns you.’ ”
Though it’s not for me, I admire Alborzian’s choice to pursue such a rigorously ascetic lifestyle. In general, I’m touched by people who lead mindful lives, especially since setting that same goal for myself and quickly realizing how difficult it is to make mindfulness a way of life. To be mindful for an hour or two each day, for a meal or a meditation session, is where to start, I think, but reaching the point of having woven mindfulness into the fabric of one’s existence is something altogether different. I wonder if in initial periods of mindfulness, the sort of awareness that’s being developed creates some sense of repression that seeks release in the form of you “letting yourself go”; and as one’s mindfulness matures, that counter-urge gradually dissolves (though I doubt it ever disappears). Rather than viewing mindfulness as hard and perhaps stressful, your consciousness begins to seek out that level of awareness as a lifeline for peace and happiness. Cultivating mindfulness seems pretty similar to marathon training in this light: an exercise in transforming the resting heart rate of one’s consciousness.
Alborzian’s last comment skirts the question, but I see his point. I would modify it by saying that you can love something that owns you, but that such a relationship isn’t a healthy or sustainable or, indeed, a loving one.
*Thanks to A for sending me this article.