Are you still hungry?
This “CAN MONEY BUY YOU LOVE?” huge banner on the Beverly Center in Los Angeles reminds us that all we want is love… but is buying stuff or wishing we could buy stuff going to really buy us love? Is it going to ever compensate for the love that we can’t give or receive? Things can make us feel temporarily happy, as they help us look and feel good about ourselves, they even buy us admiration… But is that the love that we all long for? Is there enough “stuff” in the world to really fill the human heart?)
What would happen if you never or… barely ever ate?
Or if you were having a giant stomachache and ate a big fat helping of fast food on top? You would slowly die of malnutrition or continue to feel worse and worse. We are trained to think that we need to nourish our bodies and eat nutritious foods on a regular basis to be strong and healthy.
Yet because we separate our physical bodies from our inner being we focus only on food and physical exercise, neglecting our emotional and spiritual health.
In Japanese to say “I’m hungry”, we say “onaka ga sukimashita” (or “suita” for a shorter, more casual version). That literally means “my belly became empty”. I believe that in reality, although invisible, our inner being is greater than our outer one, and therefore hungrier. Yet we don’t walk around saying: “My soul is empty, it’s time to fill it up”.
Eastern medicine teaches us that when our inner self is hurting our physical body is deeply affected.
Psychological, emotional, and spiritual pain can lead to physical illness and suffering. If we don’t recognize our inner hunger and do not acknowledge our need for emotional/spiritual care and nourishment, we destroy our potential for a truly fulfilling life.
When we fail to “feed” our hearts, minds and spirits, we jeopardize our precious health, live in survival mode, and are never satisfied.
What’s more is that our insatiable inner hunger makes us dangerously vulnerable to surrogate and toxic “fast foods”, which, while providing temporary relief, ultimately only lead to the overall lack of wellbeing, energy and happiness.
Just as with physical food that appears and tastes good, but leads to illness with time, we can medicate and find quick relief for our emotional needs and pain in remedies that do not truly heal or free us.
We can distinguish true life giving nourishment from toxic “fast food” in the aftermath results, particularly long term aftermath results.
True nourishment destroys shame and heals chronic destructive guilt, producing inner peace, confidence, and authenticity. It enables us to become comfortable with vulnerability and to connect with others.
Temporary relief or “fast emotional food”, on the other hand, feeds and perpetuates guilt and shame, producing self disapproval, discouragement, anxiety, and depression. Anger, frustration, and loneliness make their home in us, leaving us in painful and relentless need. Emotional/spiritual hunger and the need to feel/prove that we are good enough effect how we perceive and receive communication from others, as well as how we respond and give of ourselves to them.
We can only thrive when healthy. Our relationships and our productivity depend on our emotional health. True strength and empowerment are available to us organically just like healing foods are available in nature.
It is time to realize that just like the body dies without food, without feeding our spirit we die inside.
Food for thought:
Is my soul hungry?
1) Close your eyes, take a deep breath and some time to look inside yourself. What are you really hungry for? Make one decision about setting a moment in your day for your heart to get what it needs. In your new simple routine always start from looking inside first to bring out the simplest truth about how you REALLY feel: tired, confused, sad, angry, disappointed, stressed, overwhelmed, depressed, unmotivated, stuck?
If any of the above, ask yourself why. Is this feeling connected to more than what's triggering it right now?
Whether your answer is yes or no, give yourself complete permission to feel ALL that you feel FULLY and with NO judgment.
2) What would help heal or satisfy your need? Express it freely to yourself in whichever way comes easiest and most natural to you, i.e. in a prayer, writing poetry or in a journal, or perhaps telling someone you feel comfortable with.
3) If you can identify a tool that would help you getting that need met, make it your top priority to reach for it, i.e. a spiritual book, a self help or poetry book, a video, podcast or blog, spending time with a friend or family member, a therapy session, a yoga class, visiting a museum, going to the theater, reviving a hobby or passion of yours, a spiritual gathering, etc.
4) When you feel better, allow the sensation to fill your heart with delight, self respect and gratitude.