his week Bea will facilitate.
This week we are going to review together the Five Mindfulness Trainings, which are:
1. Reverence for Life
2. True Happiness
3. True Love
4. Loving Speech and Deep Listening
5. Nourishment and Healing
I would like to focus our discussion on the 5th training Nourishment and Healing:
Aware of the suffering caused by unmindful consumption, I am committed to cultivating good health, both physical and mental, for myself, my family, and my society by practicing mindful eating, drinking, and consuming. I will practice looking deeply into how I consume the Four Kinds of Nutriments, namely edible foods, sense impressions, volition, and consciousness. I am determined not to gamble, or to use alcohol, drugs, or any other products which contain toxins, such as certain websites, electronic games, TV programs, films, magazines, books, and conversations. I will practice coming back to the present moment to be in touch with the refreshing, healing and nourishing elements in me and around me, not letting regrets and sorrow drag me back into the past nor letting anxieties, fear, or craving pull me out of the present moment. I am determined not to try to cover up loneliness, anxiety, or other suffering by losing myself in consumption. I will contemplate interbeing and consume in a way that preserves peace, joy, and well-being in my body and consciousness, and in the collective body and consciousness of my family, my society and the Earth. * * *
Like all the trainings, I think this one is so rich in meaning and insight. I gravitated toward this one today because over the past 6 to 7 months my desire for self-care has increased exponentially. I have always been conscious of what I eat and what I consume and ingest but since the beginning of this year, or maybe since November 8 of last year, I have had a strong urge to self-preserve and to stand up fiercely for my core values. It started with me, but the circle soon widened to encompass my immediate family, my friends and neighbors, my community, the city I live in, the country where I cast my vote and the planet I inhabit. I have no doubt that nourishing and healing starts with ourselves first and foremost, but right now I feel we live in a world where there is a lot of pain and suffering. Healing is needed everywhere and at all levels.
I love how this training focuses on four types of nutrients: edible foods, sense impressions, volition, and consciousness. Nourishment is not just about "edible foods" and eating nutrient-rich foods. It is about the other types of nourishments we have for our hearts, minds and souls. It is what we expose ourselves to, the choices we make every day, who we spend time with, what we do for a living, the thoughts we entertain, and our own self-awareness.
I remember taking a 9-month long online nutrition course several years ago with the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. One of the first things I learned in that course is that what nourishes us comes from many different sources besides food. One of the professors said, "Have you ever met a person who eats very healthy but is often ill? What about a person who eats very unhealthy but does not get sick that often?" That is when it kicked in for me. From a holistic perspective, the professor was trying to tell us something along the lines of this training. Food is very important, but so is what we ingest in terms of sense impressions, what we choose to focus our attention on, and our ability to stay awake, present and aware - of ourselves and of our surroundings.
One of the things I have noticed about myself lately, since I have embarked on this self-care practice more intentionally, is that I do not like to spend time in loud places or be in the company of people who are edgy or "on" all the time. This is particularly hard at work where we must interact with all kinds of people and where disconnecting is not an option. This is where "volition" comes into play for me: what I choose to focus on, whether I take things personally or not, and how I choose to respond to situations and to people I would not necessarily spend time with outside of work.
Every time I reread this training I uncover new insights and new ways of thinking about it. It is an all-encompassing teaching, applicable to many different settings and life situations. One of the sentences that stands out for me is this: I am determined not to try to cover up loneliness, anxiety, or other suffering by losing myself in consumption. I think this is so spot on. Why? Because it is tempting to escape our own suffering by staying busy or going shopping - they call it "retail therapy" in the U.S. - or binging on a TV series or, even worse, binging on the news! They are so negative and polarizing these days... This is probably why lately I have been super intent on self-care and on finding ways to stay grounded. I do not want to run away from my own suffering. I want to be kind to myself, be gentle with myself. And the strange thing is that when I commit to self-care, I am more able to be kind to others, to listen deeply, to be patient and to be present.
What about you? How does this training apply to your life? How do you choose to interpret it?
See you on the cushion Monday evening.