If you found yourself feeling a kind of pressure to use the extra time at home over the last couple of months as an opportunity for self-improvement, you wouldn't be alone. The internet has been awash with tips and tricks, more free lessons and teaching on a whole wealth of subjects than is usually available. If you have felt moved to try to learn something new, or perhaps finish something long on-going, then honor that movement and make yourself available to those things. If you have felt that you simply needed to s l o w down and just BE, then also honor that.
Where do these movements, these feelings or cravings come from? How do we know when something we feel we want is genuinely for our benefit, though it may be challenging, unusual or new? How can we differentiate the energetic needs of our body and the longings of our spirit from the mental static and junk food cravings?
The being that is you is a complex interplay of physiological signals and inputs shaped by your environment, as well as the emotional and mental constructs and habitual patterns that have grown and rooted in you since conception, and even before. All of this is contained inside a vessel of skin and bones with a timeless spiritual core, ever-connected to the source of itself.
With such complexity, its no wonder that it can be confusing to decode your own needs, especially if you are like most living people and have experienced some type of injury or trauma. Even witnessing such things happening on the collective scale can have a similar effect, as we are all interconnected by living on our earthly home.
Taking steps to properly care for and keep your vessel running efficiently and smoothly can help with the clarity you need around your system's signals.
Learn to feed your true hunger and your cravings will disappear.
Craving: "I'm SO tired. I am craving rest and relaxation."
Sleeping enough and well is important for lots of physical health reasons and it also benefits your ability to cognitively reason and maintain healthy emotional regulation and balance. It is an important ingredient in resilience. Rest is very important, and like many things in life, just because nothing appears to you to be happening, does not mean very important work isn't taking place. As the Japanese often say, "don't just do something, sit there." Sleep is very much like this. Don't just stay up 'doing things', lay down and get some rest done.
Craving: "I feel pulled in a million directions! My mind is frazzled. I'm exhausted beyond tired."
If you have read this blog before, it will be clear to you that BLOOM is all about the benefits of mindfulness, meditative breathwork, and exercises of like. All of these things serve to heal and train your nervous system and emotional regulatory balance to the most positive and beneficial place for you. You literally cannot do too much of this. Water, oxygen, food, sleep, connection, solitary time, play, work, rest, etc... it is actually possible to have too much of all those things at some point or another. Meditative time is not one of those things. In view of the great benefit, this is for us on the individual level as well as collectively, from next week onwards, I will be offering meditative teaching online. This is dharma school and mystical monastery training for the modern age. Not all of us can be monks up on some high hill in the Himalayas or abscond away with Shamans into the deepest jungles. We must do the tending of ourselves and the living of our lives from where we are, screens, and all, and perhaps that's a good thing. We need to develop Spiritual self-care practices for the time we are living in now. This is the only way that a more balanced way of living will be possible for all, because the benefits of one person taking proper care of themselves spread like osmosis to those around them. If you have ever met a person who is peaceful, kind and radiates that energy so much so that it changes your own, you have met an example of what I am talking about.
Craving: "I'm starving! I NEED something sweet or chocolatey. I really want a salty crunch."
The foods we choose to fuel our bodies with are also of paramount importance. So many people struggle with symptoms of all kinds and severity. Due to exhaustion or lack of resources and knowledge, they may never actually fill their bodies on a given day with even an ounce of what it really needs. If you begin your day with anything brewed or caffeinated, if most of what you eat is cooked or covered in sauce or cheese, or if it comes out of a package with a nutritional label (and it isn't a fruit or vegetable), if it is microwaved, or has added preservatives, sugars or salt, then this is very likely you. If your water is not properly filtered (most isn't) or comes out of something plastic (especially if it is heated!), then this is also probably you.
Your body is an incredible vehicle for healing, if only things were to get out of its way.
A common list of things that can get in the way are:
Excessive consumption of grains, especially anything bleached, enriched, gluten-containing and non-organic.
The consumption of dairy foods such as non-plant-based milks, cheeses, yogurts, butters.
The regular consumption of eggs.
Drinking of black, green or white teas and coffee, especially in the morning and if before water.
The LACK of drinking water or other hydrating beverages such as lemon/lime added to filtered water, pure coconut water with zero additives, and the raw, unheated juices from fruits and vegetables. Most people need at least a liter/day of water, depending on factors such as medical history, heat and humidity conditions as well as physical activity levels.
The excessive consumption of high-fat animal meats and fish, especially ones that have not been sustainably-raised and fed a diet natural to their species. Certain animal foods such as pork, beef, lamb and high-mercury fish such as Tuna, Mackerel and Swordfish should be avoided where possible.
Hydrogenated and refined plant oils such as Canola/Vegetable oil, Safflower, Palm, Corn, Cottonseed and Soy oils are all rancid and oxidized by the nature of their production and highly irritating to the digestive system, as well as damaging to your cells. These are insidious and in lots of foods, including many other "healthier" snack options.
Corn and Soy can feed inflammatory conditions in the body and these plants are no longer what they used to be due to genetic engineering and industrial farming, so avoiding them where possible is ideal.
This is not an exhaustive list, and parts of it may not make sense for you or others you know. That's OK. Even choosing to be more conscious of some of these items will have a direct positive impact upon your health.
Avoiding some or all of these "static-causing" foods, allows your body to give you more accurate signals of what it really needs. When you reduce your consumption of processed or added sugars (not reducing actual fruit sugar, which is very important and good for your health), your taste buds become accustomed to a proper sweetness threshold. This is because your body no longer has to crave the sugar it needs, if you are getting it from proper fruit-sources. Ensuring you are drinking adequate clean liquid as referenced above will also help you to know when you are hungry versus full. Lots of times "hunger" is actually thirst.
Reducing these foods will also help your body regenerative and heal itself, reducing emotional and mental strain and improving your health in other areas, such as sleep challenges and skin issues, allowing you to show up to your life more fully and presently. Reaching for fries, pizza or ice cream after a stressful day may satisfy an emotional eating pattern that you developed to feel calm due to the chemical rush those foods provide. Learning more about what your body actually wants and needs will minimize the choice of things that are not to your best benefit.