Life is filled with temptations. Modern western culture is a sea of excess. Everywhere we look, we are being marketed the seductions of society. Buy more of this, eat more of that, and watch this on TV while buying and eating it all. YES! Bigger, better, and with more flavor! GO HARD OR GO HOME!
Check it out, America, now you can have bacon burger-seasoned chips to use as buns for your double-decker burger with bacon!
As a result of the industrial age, mega multinational corporations, and the Internet, everything we could ever want is always at our fingertips. AND…if you can’t find what you’re looking for online, and desperately need weapons, drugs, etc., you can always get on the “dark web” for all your illegal needs!
Self-Indulgence and the Modern World
In times like these, we need to be extra strong to avoid the lures of self-indulgence. In the past, people didn’t have the same access as we do today.
If you were living in the open Tundra of Mongolia during the 1200s and really wanted to binge out on sugar, chances are you would have to hike 90 miles through a blizzard for a piece honey-sweetened bread.
Or, say you were living in the prairie during Colonial times and wanted to drown your sorrows in some retail therapy—the best you could do was weave your own fabric to then sew yourself a bonnet. There just weren’t the same options as we have today.
If a person in Ancient Rome wanted to veg out and relax, they had to go all the way to the Coliseum to watch a slave get eaten alive by lions—and you know how walking in sandals can give you blisters!
Anything I want I can get pretty easily, so I have to become a self-regulator. It’s my responsibility to monitor myself and keep my actions honest, because no one else is going to do it for me.
Yet, in order to find balance, I have to have a moral code that I can turn to in the face of all the decadence the world has to offer.
Yoga and Temptation
The yoga lifestyle has transformed the way I deal with the enticements of life. The yogic philosophy espouses certain values, and that system has infiltrated my own process. When I hold these ethics in my heart, and turn to them when making decisions, I tend to stay out of trouble.
Say for example I’m at a party, and everyone was doing mounds of cocaine and tripping out on ecstasy-mixed eucalyptus leaves with a bunch of koala bears. My instinct might be to say, “Wow, that looks really fun. I’m going to do this, even though I know in the morning I will hate myself and feel itchy.”
But then, my yoga brain kicks in and says, “Maybe don’t do that, Toni, because you want to practice tomorrow, and that will be more fulfilling than snorting blow in the company of a snuggly animal.”
Or maybe I am out shopping with a friend, and I see a really cute pair of boots for $900. My initial reaction might be “You need those to look sexy and have value to society! Forget that they are too expensive and you already have eight other pairs of boots at home!”
Then yoga brain taps me on the shoulder and reminds me, “Toni, you don’t know if that leather was sourced from an ethically raised cow who received daily massages and roamed free in 900 acres of organic poppy seed fields.”
“Besides, this mentality of overload is corrupting to the soul. Not to mention the factory conditions for whoever did the stitching—put them back.”
The yoga way of life has helped me avoid the bulimic approach to consumption and the self-destructive tendencies of hedonism. Rather than looking for immediate results or mainlining pleasure, I think of the long-term consequences of my actions.
Sure, sometimes I might want to take that super hot guy home who happens to be sexist, narcissistic, and an opportunist, and lick chocolate sauce off his chest, but the yogi in me knows that I only want to engage in relationships of mutual respect—and that there are probably GMOs in Hershey’s.