It was not the feeling of hunger like I expected. That rumbling and gurgling that lets you know your body needs food didn’t happen. It wasn’t depriving or limiting but rather freeing. It was deeper. The sensation that was more than a physical feeling of need. My bones felt and my mind craved it and yet it was light to the touch as if I were more than my needs. My body didn’t feel that starved, nervous energy from hunger and yet I wanted something. I couldn’t quite put my finger on this feeling but knew it as soon as the word passed my lips.
It felt like an exotic word that untangled in the wind like a bird’s graceful wings. It was consuming not in the consuming, relentless need of desire but in a loving, gentle, enticing embrace. The physical sensation of it was not hunger or thirst from the sustenance of food but of the sensation from food. The taste, smell, texture and color combining together that made it memorable. It was richer, intoxicating and forming of fulfillment that not only filled my empty stomach but quenched my mind and soul’s thirst as well. It was encompassing of me recognizing what I needed and being able to fill it without words or expression.
We don’t often think about what it feels like to be nourished. Being nourished is confused with what it means to be hungry even though they are not the same. Hungry is a physical need. It is where our body requires sustenance. We need food for energy and nutrition, to fill our body with food so we can overcome a discomfort. It can feel savage, desperate and necessary where we take what we need. It fills a physical need that leaves us able to focus on other aspects of living.
Nourishment is a deeper feeling where not only the body’s needs are fulfilled but our mind and soul are as well. Nourishment is that state where all of us, in our whole being, is fed. The experience is felt, consuming us rather than us consuming it, to create a space that surrounds us in a moment of time. It is a peace that passes through us in its satisfying contentment without overindulgence but in just the right amount that we didn’t realize we needed. No one side of us is craving more nourishment than the other as everything is in balance and nourishment connects that state deeper when we fill it.
I believe we are deprived of nourishment most of the time. So often is this state of being undernourished that it has become a break in our being where we try to fill it with distraction from other things, including technology and food. It is why I believe so many of us suffer from being overweight and overeating. We have forgotten and maybe even not ever experienced that state of nourishment to know what we are missing even though we know we are missing something. A thirst that never seems fully quenched in our daily lives.
It is this confused state of no longer being able to find nourishment that has driven many of us to fill that void with food, non-stop technology use, sex, overworking, abuse to ourselves and others. We have disconnected the body and mind thinking if we correct the physical pain we feel then we will be alright and the mental well-being will follow. It doesn’t. If we punish our body with harshness of restriction or fill it to overindulgence we will find that place of nourishment where we feel safe, included, loved, at peace. We don’t. The deeper this disconnection goes the wider our reach to fill the void at the cost of not truly understanding why we don’t feel better.
Then we feel numbness sink like a thick fog around us, welcoming and soothing like a reprieve from the chaos. It becomes a web we think will protect us from the struggle we no longer feel we can fight. We have no energy to seek out real pleasure through what nourishes our being but only rather what gives us more numbness. It’s easier. Something, anything to relieve and lift the pain of not feeling our best. A distraction from it like the illusion of being somewhere where things are not so difficult and we can forget. The fog surrounding us feels thick with comfort wooing us into deeper numbness. Soon time passes without our noticing as we settle deeper into this state of just getting by, blaming age, the weather, our genes or latest condition and symptom our body signals us as we scroll through mindless of the time passing.
As I drove home from my yoga class one Sunday night I felt odd. My body was relaxed from deep stretches and chants of peace. I was content and comfortable. I felt at peace but like I was holding stress at an arm’s length for a bit of respite. The fog lifted momentarily and I saw my reflection. I felt like a stranger in my own body. It was a quiet moment where I could breathe and reconnect with myself. I wanted to cry, opening up my heart to this emotion that felt complete like I had been missing a part of myself. Life was a mess at the moment, like it always seemed to be. The constant worry of things, stress at work and general uncertainty. Yet it didn’t matter right then because I knew deep down I knew it was going to be alright. In that space of my car, I was safe, comforted and felt complete. My mind and body connected in a common message of comfort that I needed but had buried claiming I didn’t have time to give myself that. Nourishment of my soul extended to my body and mind.
It is not often we capture those moments of real nourishment. Life is harsh and reality harsher. Walking through these experiences in a heart centered balance way is like walking on a balance beam that is on fire while clowns heckle on each side waiting for you to tumble. The aspiring encouraging words of sayings, poems and catchy words float by in hopes of helping but most of us don’t even have the time to read them. They are pretty words but not really helpful. We are busy focusing on putting one foot in front of the other, just trying to keep it all together. In that very moment though, it is where we often miss the magic of what is possible. When we let go of the fear, worry and stress releasing it all to the fire around us, we do walk in balance.
The feeling of nourishment is a complete body, mind and spirit experience that connects us to our higher power. It is where our senses are heightened. Food tastes exquisite as it touches our tongue. We savor, appreciate and enjoy it mindfully. Our sense of smell takes in the aromas around us while our ears hear the noise and music. We see it all but we feel it deeply. It is like being in the middle of it all and yet slightly off to the side watching it gracefully unfold. The dancer on the flaming beam is us though and we are performing to perfection. It is so far beyond just the filling of our belly with food so we feel a physical comfort. Knowing what this feels like makes me want to eat less so I can experience this longer.
I caught this moment where I knew it was just not another numbness passing over me. It was different, alive with its own beating heart I could hear and feel under my fingers. It was me. I had tapped into real nourishment through the connection of my body, mind and spirit that awakened my soul. I ate that evening tasting my meal like I had never tasted anything before it. I washed dishes like it was the act of most precious china in my hands. I felt alive with every cell in my body tingling with this awareness that was protected, safe and yet in alignment I could go farther than I was. It was present, mindful and revealing like a gentle wind sweeping the fog away.
Nourishment is an experienced state where we are content on so much less than we thought we needed. It is a state of gratitude, appreciation and peace that radiates outward from our own being. Achieving that state is where we experience mindfulness that changes how we eat, move, rest, think and respond. It changes our outlook and we feel our heartbeat in rhythm to our soul. It happens when we release the pain, dare to hope and let peace start to take root again in our being.
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