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being nourished

Are you being nourished?

Can you recall a meal you thought of as perfect? One such that when it ended you felt sated but not overindulged; its combination of flavors and textures was so wonderful it left you neither feeling overstuffed nor having the slightest itinerant craving— not just fed but somehow taken care of?

The word nourish comes from the Latin “nutrire” which means “to support” and “to cherish”. Those of us that love our Yoga practice often feel supported and fed by it; those of us ( Yogis and non-Yogis alike) that are blessed enough to have our vocation and avocation be one and the same feel supported not just financially, but emotionally, intellectually and/or spiritually. But that is not always the case. So how can we construct our life in a way that there is enough in it so we feel the fullness of a satisfying life—truly nourished? (Maybe not all the time, but possibly most?)

The expression, “You are what you eat” might very well have been derived from the Taittiriya Upanishad, “From the earth herbs, from herbs food, from food seed, from seed, man.” When we take in food, our bodies cannot derive the full benefit from it without it going through certain steps of preparation. The first step is ingesting foods that are pure, whole, and healthful (Again, at least most of the time). The digestive process begins with mastication (chewing) after which the food is swallowed and the stomach breaks the food down further. Finally, in liquid form, it reaches the small intestine, where the nutrients are absorbed into the body. If any part of the process is not in equilibrium, it can result in illness or possibly disease. Each of these steps can be interpreted as a metaphor for the way we go through the process of life.

Yogis and yoginis can use asana (physical practice) as a vehicle for seeking equilibrium. We also know that who we are on our mat is merely a microcosm of who we are off it. For example, if our focus on the physical practice becomes overemphasized and we are leaving our practice exhausted it means that it is unbalanced and has reached the law of diminishing returns. Its effects become enervating as opposed to energizing and can create agitation instead of inner stabilization. None of this leads to Yoga. So a Yogic thinker might then pose the original question through a bigger lens: is what I am taking in contributing to my best and highest good? Is my inner and outer existence in balance such that I am meeting my worldly responsibilities while feeling satisfied and fed through the people and events of my life? Are there places where I feel hungry and dissatisfied? Is my schedule bloated and overstuffed by things that no longer serve me? Digestive puns aside, and whether or not we practice Yoga, if we are on any type of introspective journey, it behooves us to occasionally reflect on whether or not what we want to be at our center is supported by the actuality of our daily life:

First, are we making conscious choices about what we are ingesting, in every aspect? Is the rhetoric we are surrounded by mostly positive and forward thinking or is it negative and derogatory in nature? Are we moving at a pace where the activities and events in our lives can either be experienced presently and fully, or are we moving so fast we literally don’t have “time to swallow”? Are we affording ourselves the time, space and mindfulness to really digest our experiences, so that when we take actions and make decisions, it comes from a place of being truly “Purna” (full/complete)?

When we feel complete, what we give to the world is informed by fullness; what we put into the world from the place of this fullness will be an expression of our dharma. What is this “dharma”? The purpose for which we came into being. Our literal raison d’etre. One aspect of this is to share our gifts from the place of our highest and best good, in order to serve in the world for the highest and best good of all.

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