Nourishment is a powerful way to fully experience the richness of life on earth. Our mothers are the first ones who nourished us, beginning in the womb where we received our nourishment through umbilical cords. Then, as small children, we began to transition from complete dependence to self care. We were taught how to feed ourselves, drink from a cup, care for our bodies, and how to laugh, love, and play.
As adults, we sometimes need to relearn or remember how to continue to nourish ourselves in our daily lives, how to find a balance of self care and receiving nourishment from others. Our relationships, our diets, where and how we choose to live, are all a reflection of the harmony we create in our lives. Choosing to nourish ourselves supports us in our affirmation of being alive. It is a way to show our appreciation of the gift of life.
Although breathing is the most basic act of life which occurs automatically, we can use it as a source of nourishment. Taking in deep, full breaths energizes and oxygenates all parts of our bodies. We can direct the breath into areas of our bodies that are holding tension or feeling fatigued, breathing in prana, new energy, and exhaling any stress, allowing the body to soften. Slow, deep breathing can dispel anxiety, promote relaxation, and help the body to let go. Practicing mindful, healthy breathing provides a sense of serenity and nourishment to our bodies.
Our eating habits and food choices reflect our attitudes about providing ourselves with nourishment. We can create a more nurturing relationship with food by becoming more intimately connected to our food source.
Here are some ideas:
These are just a few examples of ways to foster a more healthy relationship with food. They are also ways to become conscious of everything it takes to get our food from the earth to our plates—the sun, soil, rain, farmers, pickers, grocers, and our own efforts and ingenuity in preparing the food.
By bringing awareness to the beauty, bounty, and vitality of our food, taking time to notice how certain food makes you feel and how it supports your being alive, eating becomes a sacred act. Offering gratitude before meals and sharing food with people we love strengthens our connection to each other and the rest of the planet. Notice the practices in your lifestyle that nourish you.
Here are some examples:
Making our homes a sanctuary gives us a space in which we feel comfortable and permits us to practice nurturing ourselves. Invite in fresh air and sunlight. Clear away clutter and discard items that are no longer needed. Surround yourself and nourish your senses with beautiful things. Display fresh flowers or hang a painting or picture that represents health, life, and beauty. Create an altar in honor of all things that nourish and support you. Find things in nature that represent this relationship. Begin to create and work in the kind of environments that truly nourish you.
Physical contact is a human need. It is important to surround ourselves with supportive people who we love and trust, people who know how to listen and laugh. Learning how to receive from others is an important way to nurture ourselves. We need people to hug, or sometimes just be there.
Whether we exercise, dance, play, practice martial arts or yoga, movement is nourishing and energizing to the body. The best types of exercise are the ones that allow us to be mindful of our bodies as we move. This allows to meet our bodies' physical needs by keeping the energy flowing. Exercise also invites our bodies to express their inherent wisdom. We can begin to understand our bodies' language and what it is saying to us by how it is moving, locating where there is holding or constriction, and where it feels open, free, and fluid. When we move our bodies with awareness, we learn about our limitations, helping to us develop a sense of acceptance, humility, and reverence for our human capabilities. Movement helps bring our minds and bodies into alignment. Movement can be a meditation and spiritual practice. Moving gently and in nourishing ways can be a joyful experience, a way of practicing compassion in our bodies.
The Buddhist meditation teacher, Pema Chodron, explained when asked why we forget to do what is best for ourselves, "We forget and remember, forget and remember. That's why it's called practice." So, we must practice everyday, retraining our minds and hearts to nurture and love ourselves to the best of our ability.
Let us extend our imaginary umbilical cords out into our lives, drinking in all that nourishes us. Soon, the most alive choice we make will become the most natural step, from one moment to the next. By nurturing ourselves, we are supporting our health, moving towards wholeness, and saying yes to life.