Anyone else follow Beth on her blog Tasty Yummies?!
When I first became gluten free, her amazing recipes came to my rescue. With flair, she posts recipes tailored for her allergies and auto-immune disorder, but she has since become a certified yoga instructor and is now becoming a Certified Nutritional Therapy Practitioner. I can’t wait to see what she’s gonna bring!
Lately, she has been sharing her journey through her nutritional studies. The title of the following article caught my eye, but one particular part caught my interest, and inspired me to share:
“As we covered the digestion module, we talked at length about the need for our bodies to be in a parasympathetic state when eating. Our digestion works best when we are in a rest and restore/digest state vs the very common sympathetic fight or flight mode.
“I realized how often I was actually eating meals under stress… In doing so, my body wasn’t truly acknowledging, honoring or respecting the fuel I was feeding it. Even on a physical level, you chew less and quicker, swallowing larger bites and giving your digestion even more work.
“Just in this single realization alone, honoring the body’s need to be in a more relaxed state for proper function, I saw instant results in my digestion and I also began to acknowledge other areas of my life I was holding onto stress and other stagnant emotions. I am not saying this solved my underlying problems or cured me for good, but it was a small first step in a large overall problem and I was happy to see that a small change, could make such a large improvement. Stress can manifest itself in many different ways for all of us, but recognizing it’s presence, acknowledging the source and taking steps to lessen it, are vital in the healing journey.”
Her post reminded me of something interesting I learned in yoga teacher training:
Image: Courtesy of MarinaYoga
While learning about the Nadis (the pathways of prana within the bodies), my yoga anatomy teacher, who is of Indian descent, was explaining how there are certain points on the body that can be pressed to activate either the sympathetic nervous system (the fight or flight) or the parasympathetic nervous system (the rest, healing, and digest system).
She explained, “Have you ever seen an image of an old yogi traveling from town to town with a tall staff?”
“Well if you had a good eye you would notice him squeezing his cane up against one side before he ate, or before he slept, triggering the parasympathetic system. If he needed more energy, instantly, he would press on his opposite side.”
It all came together for me:
So before dinner this evening, I placed my hand over my right nostril (to open the left, rest and digest nostril) and took a few, deep breaths. Of course my boyfriend noticed I was up to something strange (as usual), so he inquired, I then explained, and it appeared that he was sorry that he asked. Not attached to his reaction or to the outer world, I instantly became ultra calmed from the Rest and Digest Breath.
I’m BIG on keeping mindful while eating, mindful while doing anything really. I prefer to keep the tv off, and my focus on what’s in front of me. However, I had never directed my breath before I ate. I AM very well aware how my body state naturally falls into the rest and digest mode after I have eaten, but what if Beth is right? That it’s important to prepare ourselves for the experience of eating. To de-stress, for proper digestion: for healing.
Even though I only ate like this once, it was enough for me to write about it. We’re so used to shoveling in our food, down da hatchet, and then “Oh my, where did my food go? I don’t even remember eating it!”
However, when I was in this deeply, calmed state, my entire eating experience was slowed down and savored. I already SAVOR my food: I even take my last bite with my eyes closed, but this slowed swallowing sustained savoring was like I had truly eaten for the first time.
So what if we are able to sloooowww down our breath, our body, and our mind, and become present? We can then experience anything in our presence with more awareness, depth, and in this regard, hopefully a state healing.