Inner Space…what does that conjure up in your mind? When you close your eyes do you connect with a centered, calm part of yourself? Or do you close your eyes and get bombarded with to do lists, worry or dissatisfaction?
Lately, I’ve become fascinated by how much of our inner space—our innate sense of who we are, what is important to us and how we are experiencing our lives—is shaped by advertising, electronic entertainment and media. It can be sobering to sit with yourself and see how much of what occupies your mind is influenced by things which are in turn controlled by huge financial interests who may not have your best interest in mind.
Even things we use to stay in touch like Facebook and other social media sites are designed to keep us tuned into them so that they can make money. Check out this fascinating podcast from Sam Harris speaking with Tristan Harris about the technology of persuasion:
Meanwhile, what does it mean, anyway, the colonization of inner space? What I mean is that before movies, radio, television, and social media, people’s inner lives—their beliefs, their imagination, their fundamental world view—were shaped by their families, their religious upbringing, storytelling and their observation of real people going through their daily lives. They did not see up to 10,000 ads per day. They could not easily connect to entertainment to occupy their time, and while they may have been bored silly sometimes, they had some connection to their innate sense of self and what they really believed and found dear, and they spent a lot of time in contact with other human beings.
How many of us have formed our ideas about what romantic relationships or our sexuality or our social circle should be like from movies and television? How many of us dress or eat in a way that personally appeals to us, uninfluenced by what is currently “in” or “correct” as decided by some media source? And how much of this contributes to some sense of incompleteness, inadequacy and dissatisfaction?
In Ayurveda, the word used for health is svastha. Its literal meaning is “centered or seated in the self”. It implies a level of connection and wellbeing that is available when one is truly centered in oneself and not scattered and driven by forces outside of one’s own true nature. Another fundamental Ayurvedic concept is that of pragya aparadha, meaning mistakes of the intellect. In Ayurveda, the causes of disease or imbalance stem from these mistakes. In other words, we do not initially connect with what is appropriate to us and then because we do not, we do not act in a way that promotes our health—we make mistakes of the intellect. We over- or under-do, and create the grounds for confusion in our mind-body-spirit which creates a fertile ground for imbalance.
Consider reclaiming some of your inner space. It can be hard to uncover under the barrage of outside information we are exposed to. But, that calm space you might have connected to in yoga class, during meditation, on a hike or in talking face-to-face with a loved one—that is the key to your own health and wellness. It is the place that will guide you toward your own svastha—wellness centered in your self.