By Kim Saffran
Nourishment, in all its forms, touches us all. Whether we search for it in our food, our endeavors or numerous other options, nourishment feeds the mind, the body and the soul. And there is no shortage of that which soothes and satisfies us.
I will preface the following article by acknowledging that, in reality, there are many who cannot access what many of us accept as routine. One of my greatest wishes is that our society will continue to work towards a day when we ALL can reach for and attain the very things that can nourish – and heal us.
When one first hears the word ‘nourishment,’ our minds and conditioned thoughts may lead to food. It is sustenance. Like most other things that ‘nourish’ us, it has different looks and our responses to them vary greatly. From food, we receive macro nutrients (carbohydrates, fats, proteins) and micro nutrients (vitamins and minerals) designed to keep our physical (and our mental) states quietly humming along, restoring what we have depleted while supporting the processes that help to keep our bodies in a hopeful state of equilibrium. Stepping too far outside the guardrails of moderation and the balance we seek to achieve can be greatly altered, physically (obesity, heart disease and diabetes to name a few) and cognitively (anxiety, depression and, yes, dementia) and in other ways, too. Of course, there are many things outside of our control but food does have the ability to help counter what ails us – should we allow its healing powers to be our guide. If we do, the power of food lay not only in it’s nutrient content but, also, the heartwarming connections we enjoy with food as the medium.
Let’s talk movement. I’m a fan. And, you may be wondering, can movement really nourish us? Oh goodness, yes. Perhaps, you’ve heard of a runner’s high? This is a euphoric experience resulting from endorphins (‘feel good chemicals’) released from the brain after engaging in extended periods of aerobic exercise. But here’s the best part. You needn’t be a runner to experience this high. Prolonged (20 minutes or longer) cardiovascular exercise can produce the same results. This is very cool news. There are myriad other benefits of movement, too, along with the ability to harness the power of brain chemistry’s effects on our well being. And, they are noteworthy when considering the capacity to nourish us. Endurance, strength, flexibility, balance and, let’s not forget, weight loss. These incredible rewards find their way back to us tenfold as it relates to our ability to remain independent, strong, capable and empowered. Lucky us. But, there is something else to be said for movement and activity aside from the runner’s high and the physical benefits. There is something about arriving at the intersection where your pace and effort finds a perfectly rhythmic harmony that, happily, finds you ‘in the groove.’ A very happy place, indeed.
Connection. It bestows upon us familiarity and calm – and we are limited only by our imaginations. In the spaces shared with loved ones, the feel of the earth beneath our feet, immersing ourselves and our inhibitions in the emotionally-charged messaging of music, literature and everything else that may move us, connection provides a foundation on which to find our center; leaving us to relish in the wonderment of how easily it avails itself. Should we be fully participatory in our lives, graciously, we are afforded the gift of life’s surprises – how they shake or soothe us but, nonetheless, teach us. In all the lessons we have carried throughout the years, it is our courageous, fearful and downright exasperating willingness to connect that we are bound by something greater than ourselves – and that is our capacity to love, to appreciate and accept our worlds and those within them as they are and what they may become. It is one of the most profound lessons I’m fortunate to have learned and I am hoping you have as well.
Perhaps, the acknowledgment that each of us finds connection in different forms, at different times and with different intensities, provides a clearer glimpse into how readily we accept one another. Often, we innocently impose our biases without fully appreciating that what comforts one may not, in fact, comfort many. I used to think that when I heard the phrase, “Oh, you’ll love this!” it was my duty to lean in to what I, apparently, was supposed to love, maybe because of who I was and what I represented to the person making the claim. But, over time, I wanted to lean in more to what I, truly, loved – whether it differed mildly or wholly from others. Aligning myself with what brought varying layers of joy to my life allowed me to see that it was foolish to assume that what one loves, others will love as well. It ran counter to peaceful acceptance and, if you’re like me, you may have dedicated a good amount of time understanding the power of acceptance, how to distance oneself from conditional thinking and embrace the idea that generalities limit us.. and they limit others.
What nourishes you fosters your uniqueness. Choosing wisely and with care helps to strengthen and sustain that to which we devote ourselves but our choices will also impact the well being of others. Desire for connection ought be borne from a genuine spirit of giving and of receiving. Life is reciprocal and what we send out in the form of energy and intent usually corresponds to what finds it’s way back in to the corners of our worlds. There is much to care for in this life, be it the gentle affection for another or the longevity and tranquility of the exquisite places on this earth in which you seek to quietly exist. Please take care. What nourishes you needs to be nourished as well. This is a most salient reason for becoming better stewards of all that nourishes us – in all its beautiful forms.