Craving, Alignment & Abundance
Last week we brought awareness to our past traumas and triggers. We are slowing down and noticing when we slip into unconscious reactivity, giving ourselves time and space to feel our emotions without judgment. When we find ourselves in pain, we are responding with self-compassion and learning actual practices that can help us bring that pain to our Higher Power. As we learn to allow and accept pain and weakness with an open and curious heart, these can become our most insightful teachers.
Allowing and accepting in this way can illuminate things that we may still need to let go of. In the safe spaces we create, we can begin to see old identities and fears. We can face unhealthy or unhelpful narratives and allow ourselves to be more vulnerably human. Each week, we can more deeply accept that we simply are not in total control of this earthly experience. Our life situation, mental chatter, and emotions just do not fit in tidy little boxes that we can move around at will, like chess pieces. We are learning just how much we need God in every moment. As we practice, we can learn to find Him at our center anytime and anywhere, and this feels comforting and reassuring.
It is in facing our subconscious mind that most of us feel our need for God most desperately. In the past, we have likely numbed, escaped, or explained away uncomfortable emotions. But here we ask ourselves to sit with them, to feel them, to hold them. This task requires effort and cannot be passed over lightly. W.B. Yeats once said, “It takes more courage to examine the dark corners of your own soul than it does for a soldier to fight on a battlefield.” In facing our subconscious mind, we can begin to understand what he means. The deeper we look into our own minds, the deeper our sense of powerlessness may become. We may feel the urge to push away vulnerable feelings and instead grasp for a sense of control through various coping strategies: numbing, hiding, escaping, blaming, overachieving, etc. But as we become more accustomed to what Home feels like inside us, cheap substitutes no longer satisfy. Instead, we begin to crave a real solution. We begin to crave a Higher Power.
This week, we shift our attention back to this Power and realize an important truth: while understanding our psychology is helpful, it does not solve our problems. Our groundwork of mindfulness and awareness can serve us most powerfully by bringing us back to center. Our moment-by-moment connection with God is what fills the voids inside. In this place of presence, we gain access to the infinite abundance of the Universe. Our practice leads us to trust in this abundance and unlearn the conditioning and patterns that have led to our misaligned self-perceptions and pain. As we study, journal, and meditate each week, we can discover and accept all parts of who we are and have been. As we touch home again and again, we begin to trust our own souls’ goodness and relax into natural alignment with our Highest Selves.
Touching home shifts us into the present moment where our body, mind, and spirit are aligned. At this point, we might still be unclear if we have “touched home” yet in our practice. It might be helpful to think of this concept in terms of its opposite. Most of us have experienced the pain and dysfunction that ripples through our bodies when our bones and muscles misalign. But when our skeleton realigns, the efficiency and ease of movement we so often take for granted naturally returns. Likewise, when we touch home in the present moment, we find a mental, emotional, and spiritual alignment that clears us of egoic clutter. Here, our natural state is revealed: perfect, whole, and free. In these moments, we become an open channel for divine Light to enter the world. We feel lightness and ease, clarity and presence. We are in the flow.
Young children often offer a glimpse into this beautiful state as they radiate easy confidence and joy. They seem to reside naturally in the present moment, fully experiencing life with awe, wonder, and playfulness. They have control over almost nothing, and yet they seem ready for the ride, willing to be taught, and excited to discover. Our journey in many ways is to become like such a child: open-hearted, trusting, and present.
But a lifetime of conditioning and traumatic events can separate us from this natural, joyful state. Without realizing it, many of us transform from open and trusting children into anxious adults—desperate to control outcomes—burdened by the past and fearful of the future. In this state, life seems to create and feed a fundamental belief that there is not enough: time, food, love, money, space, attention. This scarcity mindset can unconsciously bleed into our core identity: I am not enough.
When we operate through this fear-based mentality, we tend to use our bodies as tools to improve our position or frame them as an enemy in some way. We shut them up instead of listening to what they are trying to say. Over time, we may find ourselves suffering from chronic pain, be it mental, emotional, physical, or spiritual. Perhaps sometimes we are too quick to medicate, fix, or numb the pain we feel, rather than getting curious about what and why the body is manifesting what it is. It can serve us to open our minds to the idea that our physical discomfort can actually inform us of where we have lost alignment. The body’s stressors and struggles might be giving us valuable information: a weakened immune system might indicate that we need to slow down. Tightness and pain in the neck and shoulders might be communicating that there is something we need to let go of. Pain in our lower back might alert us to the fact that we feel unsupported. When we take the time to look inward and get curious about where and what is hurting, we can realize that our body is our wise and precious compass. We can learn to accept, allow, and get curious about all types of pain as helpful indicators that help us to know ourselves better and point the way to our next right step.
Scarcity mindset and misplaced trust can also manifest in the way we relate to food and exercise. Abundance asks us to trust that our body can tell us when we are satisfied. Scarcity mindset inspires fear and judgment, and drives the compulsion to strictly control portion sizes or count calories. Abundance asks us to savor the joy of simply moving. Misplaced trust in numbers and outcomes tells us we must slap Smart Watches on our wrists to know if a workout was successful. Abundance offers an entire world of nourishing foods and limitless ways to move and be embodied that enrich and deepen our human experience. Scarcity mindset can reduce the whole of our miraculous embodiment to treadmills and diets, the mirror, the scale, or the social media feed.
No matter how, when, or where we may have adopted a scarcity mindset or how we have measured our success—we can choose today to try on abundance and see how it feels. We can consider these and other questions as we search within ourselves:
We can find that the hole inside us is indeed a scarcity-minded craving, but not for sugary sweets or salty potato chips. Beneath our physical senses, our true craving is for love, belonging, and acceptance, and is most perfectly filled by a Beloved Higher Power. Satisfying this craving starts with a simple decision: to let go and trust. What are we trusting in? Simply put, we are learning to trust in something Higher than us, with the ability and desire to sustain us, guide us, and hold us up. We are like struggling swimmers: when we fight to save ourselves and secure our safety, we sink like a stone, deeper and deeper. Only by trusting and relaxing into a Power greater than ourselves can we begin to float.
This trust can impact every aspect of our lives. It grows as we find and nurture a spiritual connection within our own hearts and bodies. This inward and upward trust is why we aim for consistent Daily Practice at LBS. We are doing more than staying in shape; we are strengthening our spiritual muscle memory, using all types of movement and breath to work our way back to our essence. When we connect to the spirit within us, we remember what it feels like to let something Higher guide us. We can actually feel the abundance that flows like an endless river inside of us. At last, we can cease our fear-driven striving.
Scarcity versus Abundance mindset
In Week Eight, we bring awareness to our overall mindset. In each moment, we can pause and ask: Do I have a scarcity or abundance mindset? How can I tell the difference? Let’s practice noticing the felt-sense of abundance in mind and body. Often this occurs when our hearts are open, our minds are calm, and our bodies are unguarded.
When we notice ourselves in scarcity, we can kindly inquire: What is the craving driving me further into struggle or disconnection? What do I really need right now?
This week, let’s practice letting go, recognizing, and trusting in the abundance within us and all around us. Abundance in body: no matter their perceived deficiency, our bodies are divinely equipped to facilitate our unique life journey. Abundance in food: no food is off-limits in a well-rounded approach to mindful eating. Abundance in identity: we truly are enough exactly as we are, and our identity far exceeds our outer appearance. Abundance in experience: there is no part of our story or experience to be rejected: all of who we are and where we’ve been can contribute to our growing understanding and unfolding. Abundance in life purpose: our journey is about so much more than appearing perfect: where we are right now is precisely where we are meant to be. Abundance in a Higher Power: if we surrender to His will, He will truly make all things right, within and without.
Let’s also revisit our Conscious Eating Guidelines and recall that they are built upon the foundation of abundance. We can trust that our body contains its own Higher wisdom to guide its relationship with food. In our practice this week, let’s pay particular notice to where we habitually struggle to be mindful or compassionate around food and body. Let’s also pay attention to where we may cling to scarcity and struggle to let go.
Lifehouse Body & Soul Conscious Eating Guidelines
Eat when you are hungry. Stop eating when you are full. Trust your body, where your highest wisdom already resides. If you learn to listen to your body, it can tell you precisely what and how much it needs.
Slow down and engage your senses while you eat. Mindfulness takes time and presence. Know that it takes about 20 minutes for your hunger and satiety signals to kick in.
Value life experiences over rigid rules or fear around food. Food adds richness and connection to many important rituals and life events.
Let go of labels around good or bad food. Different types of food serve different purposes. Different bodies need different balance. There is a place for all types of food in a mindful diet.
Primarily use food to nourish your body and soul. Most bodies need fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, some fats, and plenty of water to feel good and function properly.
Most people need some sustenance at least every 4-6 hours. Aim for a healthy rhythm of food intake throughout the day.
Some people need more structure around what they eat. If you tend to graze mindlessly, feel anxiety around deciding what to eat, or binge without realizing it, planning healthy meals and snacks ahead of time may be a helpful strategy.
Some people obsess about what and how much they eat. If you tend to be especially rigid around what and how much you eat, it may be helpful to avoid planning ahead, measuring portions, weighing yourself, or tracking calories.
Instead of focusing on what or how much you eat, try focusing on how you want to feel after eating. Tapping into mindfulness this way allows our body’s inherent wisdom to guide us over rigid or fear-driven rules.
View and treat your body as your most loyal friend. Honor it. When you feel you’ve made a mistake, don’t panic or shame yourself; such steps are part of healthy behavior change. Recognize that an over-indulgence or an excessive restriction can be helpful in the practice of learning to truly nourish and love yourself.
As we bring mindfulness to our physical, mental, or emotional cravings, we may find that they have nothing to do with food. Instead, these compulsive feelings or fixations often highlight what we believe about food: what restricting or permitting will get us. Even this simple awareness may create enough space that these fixations naturally fade away. Such cravings are often driven by our subconscious narratives of things we cannot or should not have. But what we resist persists. When we remove all the “shoulds,” we are left with a clearer channel to our inner guidance, which leads us to what is needful and nourishing in each moment.
Considering cravings as possible signs of God-hunger invites us to fill ourselves with connection rather than cookies. We can be patient with ourselves as we learn to do this. Some of us may be struggling with an addiction of sorts, having habitually used certain behaviors around food to cope with life. Moving forward, we can expect to feel anxious, triggered, and fearful as we step away from patterns that have given us a sense of safety and control in the past. We can turn to our community, healthy boundaries, honest accountability, and most of all, our God for support. Most people will not change their behavior until the pain of the problem becomes greater than the pain of the solution. If we are not there yet, we can just continue taking small steps. Importantly, we do not compare our progress to another’s. Instead, we trust our own unique path that unfolds from our sincere effort and willing heart.
As we take such sincere steps to heal our self-concept, we may find it necessary to let go of old ideals. “Just as a tree, though cut down, can grow again and again if its roots are undamaged and strong, in the same way, if the roots of craving are not wholly uprooted, sorrows will come again and again.” -Dhammapada (338) The roots of our craving often go back to the basic expectations we bring to life. In this vein, we can find ourselves grasping until we learn to accept imperfection as a part of our journey—an intentional element of divine design to meet our most significant end. Let’s remember–we are here to awaken to our true purpose and identity. Imperfections–our own and others’– are often our most compelling wake-up call. We might find it helpful to overtly state out loud, as many times as needed, that the perfect body is not a means to salvation. Attaining love, fulfillment, peace, validation, respect, belonging, and safety is available to each one of us—regardless of our body shape or personal history. In fact, the deeper we look within, the more we know these things are already here–within us, in this very moment, just as we are.