Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Finding Nourishment

There are certain words and ideas that show up in my life at various times. Recently, the word has been nourishment. It is a word I had barely heard prior to my yoga days. Of course, I knew certain things could be nourishing, but I did not really understand what that meant. Sometimes, I am still not sure I do. But I certainly have a better idea than I used to.

Nourishment is the deepest way of caring for ourselves. It is how we refill our yoga bucket. Nourishment is not about the craving of the day; instead it is about loving ourselves and others in a way that supports healing and growth. It is the feeling of comfort food that does not just fill our stomachs but also warms and fills our souls.

The desert, in all its beauty, can be very depleting. It is dry all the time, even when the monsoons come, there is a sense that the water is wasted because it cannot be absorbed as it needs to be. With record rain recently, Tucson and Phoenix simply flooded. Summer in the desert is very harsh. It is a time when we need to nourish ourselves more. But even in the winter, when we feel so good because it is cooler, the desert is still the desert, and the air and land can be very depleting.

On top of the Earth being depleting, our modern culture can be very depleting. One of the most common ways we nourish ourselves is with food, but we live in a world where food has lost its nourishing qualities. Instead of sitting down to eat and savor what is in front of us, we stare at screens, eat in our cars or desks, or eat food that would not be recognizable as food to our ancestors. When was the last time you sat and savored what you were eating?

This world in which we live calls us to find new ways to nourish ourselves. It calls us to slow down enough to understand what we need to find nourishment and how we can go about getting it. Discovering this takes stillness. It means being quiet long enough to listen. Imagine a newborn baby who is crying. We first try holding him, then rocking him, then feeding him, then changing him until something eventually works to calm him down. But we all know that if we get overwhelmed and nervous before the baby calms, then we halt the chances the baby will stop crying. While we are looking for the answer, we have to remain calm and collected. That is not easy when a baby is screaming, you want to stop it, and you have no idea what to do.

At our most basic level, we are still those newborn babies. We have to give ourselves the same calm and collected attention. We have to genuinely want to help nourish ourselves in order to find exactly what will be most nourishing. Interestingly, I first started writing this post a month ago, but I could not find the words to finish it. My life has not been very full of nourishing qualities recently.

The last post on this blog was The Ahimsa Challenge in which I challenged myself and others to really look at nonviolence in our lives and how to attain and obtain it. So, in this post, I want to ask you what you do to nourish yourself. It is no secret that one of my favorite forms of nourishment is hugging trees. But there are so many others. More and more research is coming out about the importance of being with friends and having loved ones in our lives. I have recently had a doctor twice tell me that hug therapy would help my back pain. And we all can find a way to eat food that fulfills our hunger needs more than our emotional needs.

Nourishment is about finding what it is we really need. It requires listening and then doing what is not “normal” in societal terms. Nourishment means listening to our bodies and our hearts in ways we did not grow up learning was possible. Nourishment is really about finding safety. It is when we feel the most nourished that we feel the most safe. We go back to being that crying baby when we feel under nourished, but we become just like a swaddled baby once we find our nourishment.

What do you do for nourishment? What one item can you add to your routine to help you feel more nourished?


© Rebecca Stahl 2014, all rights reserved.

The post, Finding Nourishment, first appeared on Is Yoga Legal.

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