“Too often we think that our options are limited to ‘this’ or ‘that’ – where one choice is right, the other is wrong. It’s a good choice or a bad one. I want you to expand your thinking into how something might be both at the same time. Instead of thinking, ‘this OR that’, can it perhaps be This AND That?”
This AND That
That was how one of my instructors began a recent yoga class. She reminded us that when we practice our warrior poses we are doing just that – holding our body strong while relaxing our breath and our minds. “This AND that.” But, this non-dualistic way of thinking is applicable and helpful to success outside of the practice of yoga.
Joan Marie was referencing the teachings of Father Richard Rohr https://cac.org/, a Franciscan priest and founder of the Center for Action and Contemplation in Albuquerque, New Mexico, who often writes about dualistic and nondual thinking. Humans often think in dualistic way known by comparison, opposition, and differentiation. Here are just a few examples of how dualistic thought and language is apparent in our everyday life:
- Right or wrong
- Good or bad
- Healthy or junk
- Pretty or ugly
- Order or chaos
- Happy or sad
- Work or vacation
- Your way or my way
- This or that
Two Ends of a Spectrum
Yet, as we think about it, couldn’t each set be the two ends of each spectrum – with a multitude of truths in between? Granted, dualistic thinking works well for the sake of simplification when we need to make quick and easy decisions. It may also work in fields such as safety and engineering. But, dualistic thinking can also limit us at work and at home. And, it tears us apart a nation, too, where decisions fit only one side or the other.
As a wellness expert with decades of experience in corporations, healthcare, and education, I see how dualistic thinking prevents many individuals from achieving a long-term, realistic approach to their personal health maintenance. People are driven towards the simplicity of being “on a diet OR off the diet”, “on an exercise program OR off it completely.” I can’t count the times, as a registered dietitian nutritionist, I’ve been asked to “Just tell me what to do and I’ll do it.” If only it were that simple, we’d all be lean and healthy.
This AND That – A Better Option than “Moderation”
As a wellness expert, I invite those in my audience to cultivate curiosity about this whole spectrum of health. In my opinion, it’s an easier way that promoting “moderation” though the results are the same.
I got into the nutrition field decades ago because of a series of eating disorders – anorexia and then bulimia. Recovery didn’t happen until I got outside my dualistic thinking and let go of perfectionism. Now I eat healthy and have chocolate and diet coke every day. This AND that.