Yes, the food you eat fuels your cells, muscles, tissues and brain. It gives you the energy to move, grow, heal and think. But, I consider it to be secondary to all the other things in life that fuel, feed and nourish you.
Consider this – You have the most clean, healthy diet, but suffer through a meaningless job everyday, dread coming home to a loveless relationship, waste each night in front of mindless TV, or have no real connections or support systems. While you’re fueling your body with healthy, nutrient dense food, you are no where from living a healthy life full of vitality.
What I believe to be our primary foods are things like meaningful and purposeful work, loving caring relationships, a spiritual connection of some sort, keeping our bodies active, self care – these are the things that really nourish us on deeper levels.
Can you remember a time when you were deeply in love? Rainbows, butterflies, and moon beams. Everything was exciting and new. The first kiss, your lover’s touch, gazing into their eyes. You felt like you were floating on air. The love, passion and excitement was enough to keep you going. You may have forgot about food and were high on life.
Or what about an exciting work project or new job? Something you couldn’t wait to dive into. To immerse yourself in. You believed in what you were doing and put your heart and soul into it. You were confident. On a roll. Stimulated. Using your brain, skills and knowledge this way felt exhilarating. You lost track of time. The outside world seemed miles away. You completely forgot about food and eating.
These examples, demonstrate that it’s not only food that keeps us well fed. When we’re filled up with love, passion, purpose, meaning, we forget about food. These primary qualities are enough to keep us going. They have the power to feed us and food becomes secondary.
On the other hand think of a time when life as not going so well. Maybe you were depressed, experienced a loss or trauma. A time when you were likely starving for some of that primary nourishment. Chances are you turned to food to fill you up. But no amount would do. You ate and ate but never felt satisfied.
This can happen in our day-to-day lives when life becomes routine, stressful and mundane. We forgot about what’s really important to us. At the end of the day you turn to the refrigerator to find comfort, distraction or to avoid boredom. But it isn’t food you need. It’s some excitement, a purpose, passion, a hug, touch, love, meaning or connectedness that would really fill you up.
The primary foods that truly feed us at a soul level do not come on a plate. Things like a meaningful spiritual practice, a career you are passionate about, a hobby or volunteer work that excited you, regular and enjoyable physical activity and honest and open relationships – these are what truly feed your soul and your hunger for living, these are your primary foods.
The more primary food we receive, the less we depend upon secondary foods – the ones on our plates. The opposite is also true. The more we fill ourselves with actual food, the less we are able to open up and receive the primary foods of life.
It’s interesting to note that almost every spiritual tradition encourages its followers to fast during the year. This practice of reducing and eliminating actual food for a period of time, allows space for the primary nourishment and activities that provide purpose and meaning to come forth with greater awareness and presence.
What truly keeps you well fed and well nourished?
* This post was originally published in the Herald Community on November 11, 2014