Reasons we reach for food and nature’s wisdom

psychology of eating

  1. Genuine hunger – instinctual us, animal us
  2. Meeting an emotional need. Using food as something pleasurable to get away from something painful we are feeling
  3. Being stuck in a pattern, a habit, automatic behaviour associated with certain activities

This week is all about the body and I felt it would be useful to summarise some information on our relationship with food. I am reinforcing these messages for myself as much as for everyone else and I hope you will find it useful.

We all heard of binge eating, emotional eating, overeating, over-consuming on calories, mindless eating, etc. These are unhealthy patterns of behaviour, which we either do consciously with a purpose or unconsciously.

There is one way of eating, which is natural and the most helpful is to eat when you are hungry. When we are consciously aware and mindful of clues sent to us by the body, NOT our mind, indicating it is time to eat. When we know we are ready for intake of food, we need calories and there is a genuine need for nourishment on a physical level. It is when we know that if we don’t eat we might not ‘survive’, it is instinctual function for our body to sustain life through taking in some food.

The other two ways of relating to food are the ones to watch for. One is us using food as a way of making us feel ‘better’, that pleasure trap when we seek a relief from a difficult emotional state and wanting to feel pleasure and we do it through food. This is emotional eating. I know, e.g. in the past my emotional eating had been connected closely to grief. It works similarly with other habits, like smoking, e.g., which for me, again used to be a way to gain relief when I felt unsafe. Very specific emotions that I would need to release through using something else. Once you identify what it is that you are ‘running away’ from through inducing pleasure using food, then it is time to FEEL that emotion, allow it to be, having courage to be with that, as it is part of you.

One other reason we eat is through habit. Something that we keep on doing automatically to a point that we are not always conscious of, we simply do it when engaging with a certain activity. A good example is watching TV in the evening. Many would reach for food when watching movies, favourite programmes, because this is something that they have done over and over again for a long time, hence a habit is formed and the brain knows it is food time once you are on that sofa switching on your television. The first thing to do is to become aware of where you might be using food, in what situations and circumstances that you might have not realised. The only way to break that pattern is to learn to interrupt that behaviour consciously. Once you are aware, conscious then you can begin to stop it in its tracks. It is like changing a cycle, interrupting something repeatedly should rewire our habitual thinking or automatic actions into doing something else. This needs to be practiced again and again and there will be time when you will be able to watch television without overloading on calories. This would happen overtime through interruption of the cycle and engaging with activities that take you away from that pattern and from food. Do something instead for a period of time to give your brain a different message. Remove your association between watching a film and eating.

Now think of nature in all its presentations and with all its inhabitants and species. What stands out to you when you look to nature? With me it is balance, it is a beginning, a middle and the end. It is time for everything where nothing is rushed or delayed, where everything has its place. Summer doesn’t come before spring, flowers do not bloom in winter and the earth is not producing food when the ground is frozen. Nature teaches us that there is a system of elements that constantly working together to achieve an overall balance. Sometimes challenges are thrown in its way in a way of adverse weather conditions like floods and droughts, yet it recovers, it catches up and it continues to live. There is a force of survival and thriving for that equilibrium state where everything is just as it should be.

Now think of your body in the same way. Evaluate when it is the right time for you to eat, e.g. are you a morning eater? Are you more of a snacker or a bigger, more regular meal eater? What is your body’s preference and schedule for calorie intake? What feels most natural and nourishing? Do you follow your body’s natural rhythms or are you even aware of it? The goal is to bring your body into balance with your mind, your spirit and your emotional world. Is it in balance? What foods bring you joy not when you use it to avoid something else, but when you seek to give your body nourishment and enhancement in order to feel better?

My connection to nature and the earth has helped me balance out my physical and emotional enormously. Eating produce that comes from earth gives my brain a message that it is fresh, it is filled with water and sunshine and it is full of nutrients. It is good for me. Remember doing something enough times repeatedly can rewire your brain into knowing it is working and good for you. Start small with changing one or two things a week in order to increase your potential for balance in the body, add something beneficial or take away something that is not good for you. Small, steady and continuous steps.

Remember to get sunshine and rain water on your face, as well as feeling the earth with your bare feet whenever you can. Connect to the wisdom of the intelligent system that is nature, the earth and let its wisdom go into all areas of your life, your relationship with your body and food included.

Many blessings!

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Summer and exposure

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As summer energy begins to spread through the land in its blooming attire we have an opportunity to come out, lay bare, expose.

Summer is a time for outer expression, exploring potential and examining inner and outer in its full spectrum. As nature steps into its blooming coat, so do we seek opening up and exploring. This is a ‘Full Moon time’ in its energetic signature, if you like, where things have built up within and without and it is time to show ourselves to the world and to ourselves, warts and all.

My trip to the island of Skomer on the Pembrokeshire coast in Wales made me see parallels between how nature comes into its full potential and how it is an opportunity for us to expose all that had been hidden, open up to a more authentic way of being. The insight came through my own experience of fully exposing parts of myself that might not seem favourable, ugly even, yet while in nature I felt it almost necessary to go with whatever was manifesting within and it felt safe. This experience was new and I suspect there will now be more chances for me to ‘show myself’ fully. I have been in ‘hiding’ during summer months for as long as I remember, yet, perhaps, the time has come to make changes in ways of expression and authenticity.

With exposure comes acceptance and an integration follows, which is an important part to bringing us back to whole, back to ourselves. Was I scared I won’t be accepted or be judged? In the moment I didn’t think, I simply was in a state I was in. I did and didn’t enjoy it, as one would expect, but with exposure and real experience comes such clarity and awareness, which is so useful. On reflection when an opportunity comes for an exposure so does fear for not being accepted for who we are. As a society certain traits and behaviours might be looked down on, but there is also a chance that people that you surround yourself with will sit through that ‘exposure’ with you and become curious about sides of you they might not have seen before. If they manage to hold the experience and still feel the same those are the people that are meant to be around you, furthermore it gives others an opportunity to do the same, i.e. becoming more ‘exposing’ of themselves, accepting of others and freer as a result. We are all dark and light, beautiful and less so, hard and soft and the ability to be present with it all makes us stronger in knowing ourselves and connecting even deeper with others. We often fear alienating others and seek to conform, hide and comply, but we all know what that feels like. Sooner or later all of our inner pieces that are yearning to be exposed will spill into an ugly mess.

I felt inspired watching nature in its most open state, in its full blooming capacity. Nature doesn’t think or waits to be exposed it just does it regardless every year. Summer is the culmination of that energy manifesting everywhere. With exposure comes danger, as beauty can be just as threatening as ugliness. On some level we are threatened not just by others’ beauty, but by our own. We often do not see or realise our own beauty and potential, so we remain hidden and silent. ‘Be brave’, summer would say, bloom anyway even when someone might step on our blooming heart or cut us down mindlessly without a second thought. The song we sing might be our last, as we take flight into the summer air, but sing anyway, the more beautiful the better. Exposure of the body, mind and spirit is so necessary and summer is a powerful time to explore ourselves in our most vulnerable, naked state. There is a potential to be fully empowered.

I learnt the only way to be authentic is just that – expose. Summer allows that space and a perfect opportunity to seek acceptance from within. If we can stand our own shadow energies, watch it unfold, manage to contain it post-exposure and still be ok, we become more whole. This process is of freeing ourselves from the thinking that is harsh and judgemental, often coming from within. Take inspiration from blooming flowers and singing birds, vulnerable, but free in knowing they are blooming even if just for a short time. Nature is accepting of itself, it is not critical, shy or seeking approval. It just is. What greater example is there of authenticity of being.

 

My sacred woodland

Across the road from my house there lies a woodland. It is a short pleasant walk into what is a sacred place to me. At first sight it might seem like nothing particularly special, big or of any significance, yet to me it means everything. It is a sacred crucible, which has been holding my pain and joy, ecstasy and turmoil and provided a solid presence and acceptance for many years now.

The way I would describe it in a way of imagery is a circle of greenery, it is a round shape, not too big, positioned slightly more to the left off the path although it stretches to the right too with a path running all the way round it and across it. It inhibits the lives of many oaks, holly trees, silver birches and smooth-skinned beeches. There are many hidden groves within the woodland where one cannot be seen from any of the paths and it feels like one is in a safe hold of the forest floor, trees above and plants all around. I often feel hugged by my guardian trees and most of them I can climb in between, as they stand in clusters. There is a brook running through the middle, small, narrow, but very alive with vibrancy of the crystal clear water.

In spring the woods change its flooring to vibrant purple of bluebells and the smell stretches all senses in a delicious dance of delirium. The joy is indescribable and it takes my breath away every time. In summer it is near to impossible to go off the path due to overgrowth of ferns and brambles and the air is so still I can hear my heart beat. I hold my breath in surrender to the cooling shelter that it provides amidst the heat of summer days.

In autumn it is very pleasant and paths yet again begin to open up for accessing all the hidden little groves, beginning to invite us slowly into the heart of the woods and our inner worlds. Here I cocoon myself for an hour or so doing magic or simply lying on the floor merging with the earth. There is a notable chill in the air, but so refreshing and, of course, the golden attire of trees never fails to get me to the floor kneeling before its majesty. In winter it is bare in all its glory and I can see the most intricate silhouettes of trees entwining their branches and huddling together against the wind. Stunning in their nakedness they stand strong in their vulnerability.

This woodland has been in my heart for many years and witnessed my process intimately holding all my secret heart desires and painful experiences. I never once left this place without a resolution, an answer or a transformation of some kind. It works every time. It is my trusted teacher, friend, guardian, counsellor, mother/father, the divine. It is something I can’t imagine my life without and its vibration has been aligning with my own for many moons whether it was performing my nature spells, meditating, talking to trees or spending time in close embrace with the earth smelling and feeling the glory of its body and soul. It might be a simple woodland, yet to me it is sacred and precious.

I now intend to take other people on soul quests through this wonderful place where I hope they, like myself, will find resolution, understanding, healing and transformation. I offer OUTDOOR therapy for clients in the UK, Uxbridge area.

Celebrating ME

Well-done, you deserve it, you earned it, you worked very hard and did so well

Natures-Majesty

These are powerful validating affirmations that tell ourselves that we matter, we are able and we deserve success. Today I am set on giving myself that validation I have been shying away from all the way through my childhood and early adulthood. Today is an important day when my hard work over many years has come to a completion. Today is a game-changer in how I celebrate myself.

Today made me realise like nothing ever did before in such a clear and almost unbalancing way that I don’t know how to celebrate myself and my achievements. This is no surprise how this insight came about, as this is not the first one this year, which feels like things must change and not only that, I have no choice in the matter, but to redefine it completely anew. My old signature pulled me into a certain familiar way of feeling and instead of feeling elated and satisfied there was this emptiness. I felt like hiding, shying away and holding my breath. Before I would have moved on to the next thing without stopping, honouring and validating what happened as something very important. I must mark it and stay in that energy for much longer than a few minutes this time. I noticed this today more than I ever did before in my life and there was a voice within me, a very distant one yet I heard it, which told me to stop, listen and question and I did. I felt a touch of anger, followed by sadness and a sense of injustice towards myself. I also connected this to an exact event in my childhood that changed my perception of myself and my achievements in an instant.

My mother in response to witnessing my happiness and pride in my achievements told me to stop the display of joy I was feeling inside, be humble and don’t show the pride in the excellent performance I had given. I remember that so vividly like it was yesterday. In that moment my spark went out. I didn’t understand it, but I instantly felt there was something wrong with me and took the message on that being happy was not the thing one did and expressing joy was definitely not for public display. It is profound how a single word, an event can affect someone’s whole life and how instantly I learnt a behaviour that continued through the years.

I now know that what my mother meant was not in any way a reflection on me or my achievements. I now know that her love for me didn’t stop flowing in that moment and her pride in my achievements didn’t disappear. It was just a moment, in which a child introjected words in a way that child could.

Celebrations are a huge part of my culture, always had been, yet I often felt on the fringes of that experience. It was always ‘out there’ and not ‘within’, directed and meant for someone else and never myself. That explains lack of birthday parties and gatherings in my honour and even when it did happen with my parents initiating it, I felt almost embarassed. Disconnection and detachment from the happy feelings that were present when something was achieved, earned and deserved continued throughout my life. Success became my secret joyous flow, which I felt I had to hide. To me success always leads to happiness. It never changed from that day when I was a child, it simply became hidden until now. Success is my primary happiness signature and nothing makes me feel the way that does to this day. I honour it, name it and recognise it when it comes.

So, today, I tell myself openly and unapologetically, I have done it, I worked incredibly hard, always determined, focused and dedicated. I got myself here, no one else, I did it all with unwavering self-belief and commitment to hard work. I celebrate myself today and my intention is to create my own ‘Ritual of completion’ to honour this insight and connection to myself on another level, something that I can carry with me and remind myself I matter, my achievements matter and success feels happy and joyous to me. (details of the ritual to come in a future post)

Today I also reflected on the theme of self and accomplishment in nature. I thought of the Land in a way that I experience it and how it never fails to inspire and bring out sheer admiration in me. The land knows its wisdom and beauty. It adopts, flows and bends with the elements and challenges of fire and floods. It survives and continues to grow in the face of adversity. It falls, it gets up again and basks in its own glory of knowing it is great, it is beautiful, had and soft, silent and roaring, hot and cold, it is whole in its majesty. It is not ashamed, apologetic or shy in decorating itself throughout seasons in celebration of its cycles. It is forever living in the knowledge of its beauty within and without and it honours itself deeply and in return we honour it out there and within us. Whenever I experience that sensation of fulfilment, inspiration and glory in nature I am able to connect with it inside of me and the feeling is utterly beautiful and whole.

 

Nature

 

Nature is an intelligence system of the Source manifesting through rivers, trees, seasons, mountains. They each represent a side of the spirit with unique qualities and purpose to make ‘whole’.

Nature has much to teach us, most of all about ourselves. One might say it is the only teacher we will ever need. It will always lead us back to ourselves.

As we cut off from nature, we cut off from the Source itself and separate further from ourselves.

What is life without soul? Unconscious dwelling, never wondering what else is there? Many often reach the question is this it? Is there more we wonder? You are it, all that u seek is already within. Natures’ elements are parts of you and as you learn to be with her, you learn to be with yourself.

 

Oh how soul craves the Earth bare, moist and deep

The calling drenched in sweetest voice directs oneself to thee 

You are the stars, the Moon, the Sun, the flowers on forest floor

You are the fallen leaves that fly surrendering to her

The Earth’s warmth and calm embrace gives power to soul

To rest, to be, to sing and dance in circle of the coil 

One whole, one complete within, at peace with one’s soul

 

RawPagan

Yearly signatures

 As 2015 was all about building strong interpersonal relationship. All about love

2016 was all about intense shadow work, a type where we were given little choice but to face our individual and collective Demons with an aim to understand, accept and transform.

2017 is all about here and now, being present with yourself and life. It is about questioning what it is all about here in the life that we have created for ourselves so far. It is not so much about reflecting on the past but moving forward and thinking ahead with actively engaging with our present. This year is a great opportunity to consolidate and bring to active being, feeling and doing day by day, moment by moment. It is about creating steps and rituals which root us in who we are and what we are doing here. It is about meaning and purpose and participation in all things heart, community, work, relationships. No more messing around, time to really live! 

It is about the Sun rather than the Moon, about light with holding darkness in check and awareness. About blooming rather than withdrawing, opening up not closing down. It’s about being a warrior for the good of yourself and humanity at large! 

Loving the Earth

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What does it mean when people say they love the Earth? Are references to mother Earth genuinely felt or imagined? To me the relationship is sacred, very real and alive presenting itself every day whether it comes in a form of me picking rubbish from the forest floor or stroking a tree’s cool bark in my Nemeton whispering all sorts to it, or simply knowing the feeling of love and protection towards it.

For me the feeling of love for the Earth changes and flows with the seasons. I am usually overwhelmed with the feeling during late spring, early summer when things are highly emotional and sensory for me. Nature explodes into its full majesty and I am swept off my feet with overload of its richness. Summer forest makes me feel lost in the Earth’s glory and majesty and I often spend days in awe of its constant transformation, changes and endurance. I admire her at this time.

During Autumn I feel incredibly grateful for all the gifts the Earth gives us yearly. I can’t express the depth of gratitude I feel every year as I dig up potatoes and pick ripe fruit and vegetables from heavy ready plants. When I immerse my hands in soil whether it is weeding, digging or just holding some soil I feel immense connection and resonance with its heart beat. My heart sings with the flow of love and I cry.

In late autumn while many are saddened by the death of the Sun, I am very aware of the Earth’s need for rest and rejuvenation. I start feeling very protective in a way a mother would do towards a child wanting to keep it warm and safe. I want it to stay warm in winter, hence really wishing for snow, so the Earth gets covered and sheltered till spring. I want it to rest, sleep and longer nights are very welcomed by me. I am very aware of the being that sleeps underneath last year’s leaves and hopefully snow and I often walk very carefully when out not to wake her.

When the first stirrings of the Earth occur in February I feel excitement and warmth. I become aware of things developing and waking up very slowly and gently. I love that time of year too.

This relationship is ever-changing and ongoing. It growth in strength and awareness with each year and provides countless lessons as each season welcomes me. As I continue my love affair with the Earth I come more and more into myself and become aware of the love within me, towards myself and all nature’s creatures. The Earth/Gaia mirrors back to us a sense of our own beauty and wisdom. In her we find ourselves, we line up with all that is meant to be. This is always my experience and it is the most profound feeling of belonging and coming ‘home’. It is truly blissful. I continually seek new ways of relating and protecting what I love deeply and will carry on for as long as I live with devotion and commitment.

How does your love for the Earth manifest?