Reconnecting with Body and Soul
It started as a gut feeling; as a sensation in my physical and intuitive gut that some things needed to change. Body, heart, and soul were nudging for my attention through irritated skin, stomach discomfort, and irritability in the wake of melancholy. Inner radiance was shrouded by dark clouds overhead as I tried desperately to carve my path in this world. Unsure of how I might contribute to this earth, I had to first help myself. I began to consider what I was consuming – nourishment of body, mind, and soul all equally in question – which led me quite naturally to studying holistic nutrition and to eventually becoming a Certified Nutritional Practitioner. My business, Harvest Moon Holistic Nutrition, was born from this journey into greater self-awareness.
What we feed ourselves is a complex matter that traditionally dives first into the physical world – into macronutrients, micronutrients, organs, cells, electrons, and their counterparts. From a holistic perspective, we dive further still, exploring the emotional and spiritual worlds within which the individual exists, each to varying degrees depending on the practitioner and the client. It is about seeing our wellness challenges as part of a complete organism, considering the invisible lines that connect organs to other organs, mind to body, and human to nature. In my practice, consideration of our relationship to ourselves, to each other, and to the natural world are imperative in understanding why we experience certain physical, emotional, and spiritual challenges. It is not enough to recommend certain dietary changes or supplements if the mind, heart, and soul are not on board; attempts to grow into a new self may be defeated by the power of an ever-shifting mind or at best, only superficially achieved. Encouraging the cooperation of all aspects of our being will help guide us toward deep self-understanding and lasting change.
Our world has changed in profound ways in the past decades. We have become an increasingly connected world through the expansion of technology. Yet it comes with some conflict as we question whether it has, in fact, disconnected us from other aspects of life. We wonder: have we lost some of our feeling for human connection, for the land beneath our feet, and for the natural world that nourishes us through plants, water, air, and animals? Have we become increasingly reliant upon what others – social media, societal standards, peers – advise, while our ability to trust our inner voice dissipates?
In the words of Michael Pollan, “We’ve learned to choose our foods by the numbers (calories, carbs, fats, RDA’s, price, whatever), relying more heavily on our reading and computational skills than upon our senses. We’ve lost all confidence in our sense of taste and smell, which can’t detect the invisible macro- and micro-nutrients science has taught us to worry about, and which food processors have become adepts at deceiving anyway. The American supermarket – chilled and stocked with hermetically sealed packages bristling with information – has effectively shut out the nose and elevated the eye. No wonder we have become, in the midst of our astounding abundance, the world’s most anxious eaters.” We have shut out other things, too – our literal and metaphorical gut feelings, our intuition, and our heart. We have elevated our mind, which, in its state of flux, leaves us feeling confused, misguided, and unbalanced.
In order to help mitigate the effects of this bustling world we live in, mindful consumption is a concept I bring into my journeys with clients. Mindful consumption – specifically as it pertains to eating and drinking – involves the seemingly simple yet unworked practice of paying attention. It is about being present with the food or drink before us, with the environment that surrounds us, and with the one that lives within us. It is about bringing awareness to our thoughts and feelings as we reach for that sweet treat. It is about the memories we shroud as we pour our third glass of wine. It is about feeling the breakdown of the leafy greens as we chew, feeling them tumble in our stomach and envisioning our cells soaking up their nutrients. It is about compassion for self – patience as we embark on the journey of healing. It leads to empowerment and self-knowledge – a strengthening of intuition and a building up of confidence in our decisions.
As we bring attention to the body, to the heart, and to the mind, we begin to reconnect to aspects of ourselves from which we have been disconnected. New pathways form, weakly at first, strengthening with practice. When we consider the number of years we have spent in our old ways of being, it is crucial that we bring compassion and patience to the table. The shift in our habits will not happen overnight, but with each step (or bite) we take, we gain momentum and the sense that deep personal growth is taking place. We cannot expect to be perfect in our attempts – the definition of perfection is subjective and shifting, anyway. Rather, it is in the act of listening that we become empowered to bring our heart’s calling and body’s yearning to fruition. In each moment, whether we have attached definitions such as ‘good’ or ‘bad’ behavior, we are presented with the opportunity to learn a little something of ourselves.
Whether we call it a reconnection with our inner wisdom, our intuition, our soul, nature, spirit, or truth – whether we choose to name it at all – is irrelevant. What we are practicing here is listening to something that runs deeper than, above, and through us. It is about seeing our bloating, our blemishes, and our heart’s bruises as pieces of a human puzzle. It is about seeing this human as a part of ‘family’ – biological, chosen, human, and earth families. In making the decision to embark on a journey towards healing, we are choosing to grow, to evolve, and to find deeper meaning and happiness in this world that is shifting faster than we know what do with it. Behind the labels (food or otherwise) rests something natural – something that holds vibrant life, if we let it. It is within our ability to listen to the stories told, internally and externally, that we find our unshakable faith in the soul that rests beneath it all.