For just a moment, drop in, turn your attention inward and be curious as to how you're being fed.
Is there a particular smell in this moment that's reminiscent of someone familiar in your past? Look around. Is there something nearby or out the window that's pleasing to see? What simple memory can you recall from the holiday that still makes you smile inside?
If none of these work, take a moment to notice how your butt and legs interface with the surface on which you're sitting. Feel the literal support offered by your chair or the floor under your soles where you stand. Can you take in even a slight inner sense of being fed support in this simple concrete way?
These questions are related to the 'food group' about which most of us never learn and dropping-in to inner experience. In terms of the more recent food pyramid, experience in my opinion is the foundation of the pyramid.
To drop-in and be nourished in this way requires a spirit of receptivity, attentiveness and an awareness of being in our bodies.
These three things can be challenging for me. Are they for you? Attentiveness requires that I slow my easily distracted mind down so that I'm in the moment and available to the present. Receptivity requires that I relinquish control and not be on guard which implies trust - something that for me ebbs and flows.
One particular holiday example of "The Eighth Way" occurred four years ago. December arrived and I was finally addressing a significant lump in my neck. Fear had caused me to procrastinate having it checked out. The doctor ordered a biopsy. I showed up at an area hospital where I was ushered into a curtained area, told to put on a hospital gown and asked if I had a driver. Excuse me? I thought this would involve a simple pin prick yet I ended up in the gown, laying in a curtained cubicle surrounded by many others awaiting tests and procedures. With curtains as walls, conversations between families and medical staff were easily heard. Precautions and risks were explained to those whose health was already compromised or at least it sounded this way from some of the comments I overheard. Compared to those around me I was fine, yet the lump had me scared.
I lay there receptive, open and awaken when suddenly I had an experience of being nourished and fed.
I heard a voice say, "Remember who you are" and as I did I felt myself infused with an energy that felt like great Love. For someone whose childhood involved fears of illness and certain early death, this was even more remarkable. I was fed and filled with the energy of Love. It flowed through me and I easily allowed it to radiate to all around me and throughout the building.
I was nourished and in the flow as Love flowed through me.
Most of my nourishing times haven't been this profound. I am usually fed in Nature on a sensory level as I smell the lavender and rosemary that grow near my door, watch the leaves on each season's trees, hear birds sing or discover intricacies of bugs I've take for granted previously.
Being with children and those I love nourishes me as does Nashville's symphony and our museums and galleries. Being around creativity fills and feeds me.
My days go best when I take time each morning to sit or stand and feel myself open and receiving what to me feels like Divine Love and Energy. Contrary to traditional prayer often involving asking for something, I'm not asking for anything. I'm mindful of being open. My attention drops in and usually I receive. This has taken practice and still does.
It takes practice because I often avoid or refuse the Nourishment around me. I can be easily distracted or overly busy and ignore the experiences available to me and at times I intentionally block them.
Prior disappointments as well as anticipated hurt or loss affect my ability to receive and be nourished. My controlling self wants to pick and chose the experiences of which I'll partake. I want to be selective to try to protect myself from further disappointment. Ultimately I can't control what I'm offered only my attitude toward it.
My attitude has taken work. As I've discovered how I am fed by nature, the arts and others, I've discovered deep joy which has revealed another pattern. Often when I'm nourished and renewed by joy, I have the proverbial rug pulled out from under me. Joy is replaced by anger and a sense of betrayal. At times I've felt like I was the brunt of some cosmic joke or a cruel God who wanted to teach me that joy only leads to disappointment and can't be trusted. Now it feels more like I'm being internally polished when I'm willing to receive the experience I am fed and let it flow through me.
A simple example of this happened New Year's. We chose to burn what we were releasing from last year and the year prior. Not being satisfied with 2012, we had a do-over in 2013. I read that in both 2012 and 2013 I was releasing self-judgment. Ironically moments before reading these notes, I told Jerry I was judging myself and feeling like a failure. I wanted to release self-judgment. I couldn't believe for three consecutive New Year's I was releasing the same thing. I got out a simple bowl made by my potter friend Jay. We went outside and lit the small pieces of paper. The crumpled scraps looked like black roses with fiery edges as they burned. Their beauty and the beauty of the moment prompted me to hum and feel a new sense of letting go. I felt so different until I heard the crack. I hoped I had not heard what I thought I heard. This was a favorite new dish.
We finished our ritual and I discovered a tiny crack the width of the bowl. I did not like being fed this experience. It felt anything but nourishing. This was the third time in a week that joy was suddenly replaced by disappointment. I railed and cried. I was angry at God and the Universe over this simple now broken bowl. Then I walked outside under the stars and everything was suddenly alright. I realized the bowl might be broken as my heart has been repeatedly broken but my spirit will not be broken. I was open to the experience and my joy returned.
Dropping in and developing mindfulness as to how you're nourished and fed has positive, radical implications for oneself and the world. Tune in to how you are literally fed through the foods you eat. Do you eat out of true hunger or habit? The next time you reach for something to eat drop in and ask if you're really hungry or wanting to eat to avoid something. If you're actually hungry, notice first what hunger feels like in your body. Hunger doesn't kill us yet poor nutrition creates the foundation for many diseases which ultimately benefits pharmaceutical companies. . Drop in and listen to your body as to what you're literally feeding it.
Drop in and get conscious of what you are psychologically being fed. The media and those in power hoping to sell us things continually try to feed us through sound and sight bites. We determine whether we'll eat what they dish out. The next time you hear or see something in the media stop and ask yourself: From my personal experience does this ring true or correct for me?
Drop in and be nourished by positive energy whether it comes through someone you know, an aspect of Nature or that still small Voice like the one I heard in the hospital four years ago that suddenly filled me with Love's energy.
The Eighth Way of the Season is available year round every moment. Think about it. We can drop-in and be nourished by receiving the breath of life automatically each and every moment.
Are you curious? Are you open? Give yourself the gift of dropping in to the present moment regularly and pay attention to the ways in which you are nourished and fed.
-Dawn! The Good News Muse 4 January 2014
Click "Remember Who You Are" to read more about the hospital experience referenced above.