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Plant Wisdom Teaches Body Wisdom
by Stacey Richmond
Driving along the Cape, summer is finally here. Looking at all the beautiful flowers and gardens it's hard to believe the transformation from barren landscape to lush growth, full of life and vitality.
The urge for a plant to grow is so strong that its shoots will creatively change course, wiggling around rocks and roots to its full expression. How does the plant know how to receive nourishment and move through the phases of growth to its fullest expression of itself? Instinct.
In fact, the instinct of plants to root down into the earth as the shoot moves towards the light is embedded in its DNA. A recent NASA experiment sent seeds into space to determine the effect of gravity on growth. The study revealed that plants maintain their earth growing instincts even without the effect of gravity.
As a nutrition counselor, one of the most common food related challenges that appears to be affecting how many people feel about themselves as eaters is what I would term "the overfed head syndrome" – the overconsumption of nutrition and diet related information. It seems we have lost a connection with our own instincts.
There is a fine balance between taking in information that can inform and empower someone to make positive life change versus following every latest diet recommendation as a solution to a present perceived problem or goal.
On any given day we hear about new studies…is coffee good or bad? What is the best fat? Should I avoid soy and corn, it's genetically engineered? Your toxic-detox is the way to go. Eat like your ancestors - try Paleo, honor the environment - vegetarian. It's not the information that is the concern it is HOW we consume this information.
This is leading to a subtle nutrition related crisis of complete confusion, insecurity, guilt and shame. The balance of the mind and the body relationship is compromised. We lose the ability to remain open, flexible to our present moment, receiving and translating the signals from our wise bodies, and responding skillfully moment to moment as life unfolds.
This can lead to a disconnected eating style that is motivated by impulse, judgment and stress - emotional over eating, feeling insecure eating in public, and guilty or justified as we consume a delicious cookie.
Photograph by Stacey Richmond
So how do we connect with our body wisdom? Is it possible to reprogram the internal addiction to dietary perfection or impulsive poor eating choices?
Mind-body medicine and ancient wisdom systems are proving the amazing capacity we have to heal and transforms ourselves through compassionate self-care practices such as mindfulness, meditation, regular joyful movement and journaling.
Once we can quiet the mind and de-escalate the stress response we open up to the subtler instinctual language of our Wise Self.
Developing a relationship with the body as your most valued trusted friend will increase trust in yourself, other people, the world and yes, FOOD. Your food choices become a dynamic process of responding in the moment to hunger, health, energy, community and the environment. Your digestive capacity increases for all life experiences because you trust in the wisdom of your body to know exactly what to do with what it is fed.
There is also trust that the body will give you feedback about what is not nourishing, and if you are listening close enough you can step into your power to choose differently…instead of seeking the answer in a book.
So, no secret the balance we seek is modeled for us in nature. Send gratitude to the plants and animals for reminding us about our true nature…we must also grow deep roots to have the stability to trust, breath into the moment, and learn the language from our own body and heart.
We are meant to live full, bright, joyful lives…even if we are not perfect eaters.
Stacey Richmond, RD LDN, owner of Kind Eating, is an Integrative Nutrition Therapist who has been practicing on Cape Cod and the South Shore for over 18 years.
Stacey focuses on helping people develop a healthy relationship with food and their body through the combination of nutrition science, behavioral science and body centered mindfulness techniques.
Stacey offers seminars, workshops and retreats for women combining her love of yoga, energy healing, natural food nutrition and spiritual growth. Visit Stacey's website at www.kindeating.com