This year is the first year that I can remember in the last two decades that I haven’t either hosted Thanksgiving or cooked a plethora of the dishes for the annual dinner. I appreciate the holiday for the comfort of family and friends of course, but mostly the delectable meal and massive cooking project that it entails. Since I was to be at another family member’s home with only the responsibility of a pie to be baked, I decided to prepare a feast for my wife and I last week. I thought it would be a nurturing way to spend the day and allow me to craft healthy creative interpretations of the classic fare. Only thing was, I wasn’t feeling very grateful that day. I was feeling grumpy and tired, residing in that consciousness that doesn’t even recall what its like to have gratitude for the wonderful parts of my life.
I felt frustrated and disappointed with my mood for the first hour of the morning. After getting my mise en place settled, I had the realization that I could actually be IN my mood, and allow myself to engage with the cooking from where I was in my disgruntled state. I wasn’t going to force myself to feel the joy of abundance and count my blessings. I thought to myself, I look forward to this evening when I can sit down to this luxurious meal with my wife and tell her how UN-grateful I have been all day, and how I still held my ground and cooked this feast. And then I imagined I would disenchantedly muster up a list of things that I appreciated in my life to share with her regardless.
I cooked throughout the day, taking my time and relaxing into the ritual. The evening came and the table was set, and I looked across the table at my wife. First things first, I started to tell her as I planned, the blue feelings of the day that sensed no gratitude of blessing. Halfway through the declarations the emotions started to shift within me; it took me a moment to notice that suddenly I was smiling and sharing with her all of the reasons why my home was a castle and my life full of tender blessings.
When I realized the transition, my gratitude expanded. I was noticing the benefits of a gentle holding of myself. In healing it is important to start where you are and allow yourself to build a little nest there. In doing so you invite acceptance for your current experience. Only then can you move forward towards a healthier space. No matter if its physical or emotional suffering, the same is true.
Do you get frustrated with yourself in your current state of health? Do you search for a quick fix to get you out of the back pain, arthritis, headaches, anxiety and insomnia? It is difficult to rest in the suffering and start where you are. This approach of embracing your present-moment-truth allows a path to be opened up for healing. That suffering you experience is a symptom, and a symptom is a signifier that something is not harmonized in your being. There isn’t a formula for the process, but learning to hold the unsavory pain can allow you a glimpse into yourself, to witness a part of your self that has been unacknowledged. Give yourself a break; don’t pressure yourself to heal over night or to be all health and happiness all of the time, always filled with gratitude. Sometimes we are called on to simply be with what is, an invitation from our deepest core to hold in kindness all of ourself, even the Un-Grateful.
“Your diet is the primary material for your body to construct its intricate matrix of being"
Taking an active part of your healthcare is a potent way to prevent health issues and manage and tend the problems you suffer from currently. Nutrition, movement and quiet reflection and meditation are the foundational elements of this process. In considering nutrition remember that your diet, the food and drink that you consume, is the primary material for your body to construct its intricate matrix of being. If your diet is deficient in the rich and natural elements that it needs, your body will suffer. Conversely, if it is oversaturated in other elements, your body will likewise suffer.
The key elements to nutrition are:
How do you feel after you eat specific foods? How do different foods impact your body? Do certain grains give you cramping in your lower body or disrupt your bowel habits? Does dairy make your nose run? Does sugar make you spacey? Do you notice a pattern with your emotions or your joint pain in relation to specific foods?
There are so many possibilities of experience! It may seem overwhelming, but it only takes time and attention to learn about what foods will promote your health and wellness, and which will promote illness and suffering. An excellent aid to help you learn more about your current personal nutrition is a food journal. If through your detective work you can discover that for example your arthritic symptoms are generated from eating processed grains, you can limit or remove these foods in your diet and benefit greatly physically and emotionally.
Other aspects of mindfulness relate to how your emotions impact your choices. The key aspect of this element of mindfulness is simply your attention and thoughtfulness. Take the time to note your mood and emotions throughout the day, then notice what foods you are drawn to or repelled from.
Another important part of mindful eating is a consciousness of the way in which you participate in the ritual of eating your food - hopefully slowly, chewing thoroughly while in a relaxed setting! The way we eat our meals and snacks has a profound effect on our body’s digestive process, and in turn how we assimilate nutrients. Stomachaches, gas and bloating and low energy are negative effects of a disturbed and rushed eating experience.
In working intimately with our diet, we observe the way psyche and soma are greatly interconnected and both impacted by and from our food choices and eating habits. If you would like support in tracking your diet and learning more about new possibilities of nutrition and health, you can learn more at by calling the clinic at 707-861-8930.
Chase L. Desso, LAc