True Nourishment

Print This Post Print This Post January 22, 2012 on 8:37 pm | In Diet, Fulfillment, Health, Integrity, Nutrition, Physical | Comments Off on True Nourishment \"\"

Have you noticed that whenever you really take the time and effort to carefully examine one strand of your life you wind up discovering that what initially seems to be a single, isolated strand is in fact part of a vast web that connects all of the facets of your life?  Since the action associated with my focus for this quarter – physical integrity – is nourishing, I have been doing a lot of thinking about the concept of nourishing over the past week and it has opened my eyes to what an expansive concept true nourishment is.

On the surface level nourishing is a relatively straightforward concept, especially as it relates to the physical aspect of my life.  The most obvious association is with nutrition and selecting nourishing foods and drinks that support my physical being with the proper types and amounts of nutrients.  This dimension focuses on what to eat and drink, such as fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grain carbohydrates, fresh meat, poultry, fish, and dairy products.  What we eat certainly has a profound influence on our physical being in terms of 0ur overall health and vitality as well as our energy level throughout the day.

In addition to what we eat, how we eat plays a very important part in nourishment.  Eating more slowly and thoroughly chewing food until it is in a semi-liquid state before swallowing greatly enhances the nutritional value of food.  In addition to allowing the digestive enzymes in our saliva to begin the process of breaking down the food and extracting nutrients, the increased surface area of smaller food fragments enhances the bioavailability of nutrients by allowing a greater portion of the food to be exposed to the digestive processes.  Whereas large chunks of food tend to digest poorly with large amount of waste products, smaller particles tend to digest well with maximum extraction of the available nutrients and greatly reduced waste products.

Speaking of waste products, the processes involved in the elimination metabolic wastes also play an important role in nourishment.  In addition to optimally extracting nutrients from our food in order to nourish our bodies, it is also important to remove waste products from our body in order to maintain our health and vitality.  There are a number of processes involved in waste elimination in addition to the obvious processes of urination and defecation – these include respiration (exhaling gaseous wastes), flatulence (farting) and perspiration (sweating).   Especially important in the removal of metabolic waste associated with cellular activity is the lymphatic system, which relies on large muscle movement to transport interstitial fluid throughout the body.  This fluid bathes the cells within tissues thereby providing a means of delivering materials to the cells as well as removing metabolic waste products. Unlike the circulatory system, which has a pump (the heart) to move fluids throughout the body, the lymphatic system\’s reliance on large muscle movement to transport fluid means that exercise also plays a vital role in the process of nourishing the body.  So even from a purely biological perspective nourishment involves a lot more than just eating \”healthy foods.\”

If we step back and consider nourishment from a broader perspective, it is clear that true nourishment involves a number of factors beyond the physical or biological realm.  For example, the emotional state that a person is in profoundly effects their biological state and the effectiveness of the various life sustaining systems of the body – including the digestive system, respiratory system, and circulatory system, all of which play an important part in nourishment.  More importantly, however, nourishment is not simply a function of how the other facets of our life – emotional, mental, social, relational, and event spiritual – impact our biology.  Rather, these aspects themselves are an important part of true nourishment.

True nourishment involves nourishing all aspects of our being – our physical, our mental, our aesthetic, our social, relational, and spiritual dimensions.  In this sense, health is not simply an attribute of our physical dimension – rather health and vitality are attributes of the totality of who we are.  In this larger context, nourishment means that which sustains, strengthens, and promotes the growth of our entire being – not just our physical aspects.  This enhanced understanding of the concept of true nourishment opens a vast range of possibilities for nurturing ourselves:

  • Spending time in nature, watching a sunrise or a sunset
  • Taking a relaxing, leisurely hot bath
  • Enjoying the company, laughter, and companionship of a close friend
  • Playing with your children or your pet dog or cat
  • Listening to inspiring, energizing, or relaxing music
  • Going for a long walk or bicycle ride to clear your mind
  • Watching an inspirational movie or reading an inspirational book
  • Prayer; meditation; being in silence and solitude
  • Making love

As an example of a particularly nourishing activity from this past week, on Friday I took my wife to a magnificent dinner in downtown Houston. This dinner was a formal coat and tie affair, which gave the occasion a distinctive air of being special and set apart, which in turn encouraged us both to slow down, relax, cast our worries aside and enjoy the evening.

A Taste of France Wine Dinner


Moet & Chandon Imperial, Champagne, NV


Pike and Salmon Medallion served with Florentine Sauce

Louis Latour, Meursault Blanc, Beaune Cote d\’Or, Burgundy 2007


Pear Sorbet


Tournedos with La Tourangelle Marrow Sauce

Galette Potatoes, French Beans, and Baby Carrots

Chateau Batailley, Grand Cru Classe, Pauillac, Bordeaux 2005


Trio of Cheeses

Louis Latour, Morey St. Denis, Clos des Ormes, Burgundy 2003


Apple Tart

Domaine des Bernardins, Muscat de Beaumes de Venise, Rhone 2009

This menu, I believe, speaks for itself – it was a marvelous evening, and even though the food and drink may not meet the strict criteria of \”health food\” there is no doubt that this dinner, and the time we spent together, nourished us both – physically, mentally, emotionally, socially, and dare I say spiritually?

Vive la France!

Trinity: Investigating a New Life Structure

Print This Post Print This Post May 27, 2009 on 9:26 pm | In Awareness, Balance, Consciousness, Creativity, Energy, Failure, Fear, Fulfillment, Integrity, Intent, Love, Power, Purpose, Spiritual, Toltec, Truth | Comments Off on Trinity: Investigating a New Life Structure

Over the past few months I have been examining and experimenting with the underlying structure of my life.  This investigation took on a new urgency and came to the forefront of my personal development efforts as the result of a ceremony I took part in on Maui, and I have truly been surprised by the depth of the revelations that this investigation has brought to me.  That ceremony involved the creation of an energetic structure very similar to the structure illustrated above – three nested triangular rings, each with a specific function within the structure.  Explaining the entire structure would take me much more than a single article, and in addition I am still working to understand the relationships that form the overall structure; as a result, this article will focus only on the structure of one of the triangular rings (specifically the outer ring) and how this structure has impacted my life.  That outer ring was comprised of three people (including me), each of which embodied one of the elements of the overall structure.  By using this structure as a model for my own life and working to balance the elements within that structure I have made some major shifts both in how I view and how I live my life. 

Since the entire concept of a \”life structure\” may be a bit fuzzy at the moment, let me begin by describing my previous \”default\” life structure, which was almost entirely the product of cultural conditioning.  Perhaps by coincidence, but much more likely by design, this life structure also consists of a trinity of life modes.  As I describe this model I think what I mean by the term \”life structure\” will become much clearer. 

I refer to my previous life structure as the \”Success\” Structure, and it was comprised of the following three elements: Doing, Getting, and Having.  The basic premises of this life structure are:

  • The goal of life is to by happy
  • In order to be happy you need to be successful
  • Being successful essentially means earning lots of money, but tangentially also includes having status and respect within the general community
  • Doing: You earn money by achieving specific goals in terms of career advancement, which generally entails progressing into positions of increasing responsibility and authority
  • Getting: Earning lots of money in turn allows you to purchase things (houses, cars, boats, champagne) and experiences (vacations, cruises, lessons) that will make you happy
  • Having:In order to remain happy you need maintain the possessions that you have and continue to acquire new things and experiences to fuel your continued growth

I\’m sure as you read this you are thinking \”How could anyone subscribed to a belief system this shallow?\”  Of course, when I was living within this model I would not have articulated this structure as I just did, and I would undoubtedly have denied that this structure defined my life.  In terms of intellect and theory I have never subscribed to this philosophy.  But in terms of how I actually lived . . . I was caught hook, line, and sinker.  And if some of you take an honest look at your own lives – in terms of what you actually do, not what you say you do, or what you mean to do – I think you will find that it is quite easy to slip into a structure that keeps you playing at the shallow end of the pool.

This structure could have just as easily been termed the \”Consumer\” model of reality, as consumerism – that mighty engine of the world economy – to a large extent supports this model through a vast array of social and cultural assumptions and practices.  Indeed, I have found that it takes amazing vigilance to keep this model from insinuating its way into our lives.  Not only overt advertising, but more insidiously unconscious assumptions such as the need to \”earn\” value or worth through success and achievement, the equivalence of success and monetary wealth, the linkage between wealth and happiness, the desirability of social status and public admiration, creep in and color our perceptions in ways that are often difficult to detect, but profound in their influence on our thoughts, beliefs, and behaviors.  In talking with friends and associates, it is clear that the foundational idea that one must do something of value in order to obtain worth, in order to merit love, is a very pervasive assumption that underlies many of our thoughts, emotions, and behaviors.

The above analysis notwithstanding, I don\’t want to paint the picture that this structure above is inherently bad or evil.  Indeed, even after becoming aware of this structure operating in my life, there are many valuable outcomes that I have enjoyed as a result of embracing (albeit unconsciously) this particular worldview.  Champagne, for example, is something that I truly do love!  Seriously, though, the predisposition of this life structure towards Doing – physical activity – is a very positive feature of this approach to life.  No, the \”problem\” with this structure in my case is not that it is inherently bad or evil; rather it is that this structure is incomplete – lacking in vital elements that allow one to move beyond so-called \”success\” and \”happiness\” into the more expansive realms of fulfillment and joy.  Moreover, the core principles that correspond to these three modes of living leave a lot to be desired in terms of capturing the full spectrum of human possibility, given that we are much more than consumers and exchangers of resources:

  • Doing                   Core Principle: Power
  • Getting                Core Principle: Acquisition
  • Having                 Core Principle: Possession

The incompleteness of this structure is what leads to the malaise of the achiever – that nagging sense of \”is this all there is?\”  That subtle but ever present yearning for a deeper, more expansive meaning to life beyond the mere acquisition and enjoyment of possessions and experiences.  It was precisely that yearning that eventually led me to pursue a spiritual path in an effort to find meaning beyond the confines of my material existence.

The new life structure that I have been experimenting with over the past few months is what I refer to as the \”Fulfillment\” Structure, which also comprised of  three elements: Being, Doing, and Connecting.  Although this structure shares the common element of Doing, the replacement of Getting and Having with Being and Connecting has a profound impact on the life choices one makes from within this new structure.  Moreover, the core principles that correspond to these elements result in a much different dynamic within which activity occurs – one that is focused more on the \”spiritual\” values of intrinsic worth and sharing rather than the material values of acquiring and possessing.  Those core principles form the foundation of my new life structure:

  • Being                Core Principle: Truth
  • Doing                Core Principle: Power
  • Connecting        Core Principle: Love

The basic premises of this Fulfillment Life Structure are:

  • There is no specific pre-defined goal to life, in the sense of something to be achieved or some state to be attained.  Rather, our purpose is something that we create.
  • Fulfillment is essentially our natural state – not something to strive for or to achieve.  By balancing the elements that form this life structure that fulfillment is revealed as ever-present. 
  • Being:I am intrinsically valuable and worthy – this is my natural state; there is no need to \”earn\” love as I am naturally loving and lovable.  At my core I am a manifestation of the Divine, and most (actually all) of the suffering and drama in my life are the result of my failing to recognize this identity.
  • Doing: Once my survival needs have been met, my doing is based on the creative desire to manifest that which I have imagined by bringing it into reality.  This type of doing is done for the intrinsic joy of bringing that which I desire into being, and not as a means to an end.  Although my doing may result in accumulating wealth, that wealth does nothing to increase or decrease my intrinsic value – which is a given.  All that wealth does is provide me with a means to bring more of what I have imagined and desired into being, provided I allow that wealth to flow into and out of my life.
  • Connecting: Connecting with others, my self, and the Divine is my ultimate joy and play – amplifying my experience of life by allowing me to see reflections of my own nature in others while simultaneously amplifying their experience of life by sharing my nature with them.  In this sharing both aspects are enhanced and enlivened, with the resultant outcome being much more than the sum of the individual elements.  In its ultimate expression connecting it is the recognition of the unity of self and other – the reality that there is no other, that we are all simply facets of a divine, inseparable whole.

In experimenting with this life structure I have found a number beneficial outcomes in terms of practical, everyday issues.  First and foremost is a massive reduction in worry, stress, and anxiety.  Because this model operates from the assumption that I am already whole, worthy, valuable, lovable, and divine – in other words that I have already arrived, that there is nothing for me to prove or achieve in order to merit the blessings I experience – there are not many issues for concern so long as my physical well-being is intact.  And even in cases where my physical well-being is compromised (tired or sick), a few moment\’s reflection reveals that although there is a desire to restore my level of energy and well-being there is no need for additional stress or frustration which would only serve to further compromise my state.

An even more noticeable change is in the motivation for my doing.  In the Success or Consumer Structure the motivation for much of my doing was based on fear – fear of failure, fear of being found to be inadequate, fear of not living up to my potential, and a whole host of other concerns associated with the underlying assumption that I am not intrinsically whole and worthy.  In the Fulfillment Structure the motivation for Doing is always love – a desire to move towards or realize a desired state of affairs rather than a moving away from an undesirable state of affairs.  In psychological terms the Fulfillment Structure uses the carrot of joy and delight rather than the stick of  fear and control.  The sense of flow that results from this new structure is a pleasure that fills increasingly larger portions of my day.  Ironically, by focusing less on Doing, and spending more time Being (sitting, meditating, day dreaming, resting) and Connecting (in person, by phone or email, through prayer and intuitive perception) my Doing has actually become much more focused and effective.  It turns out that I spent a lot of my time Doing worrying and fretting rather than actually accomplishing anything, and my not-doing has helped to reduce this wasted effort dramatically.

I still have a long way to go in fully exploring this new structure, and indeed I feel I am really just seeing the surface manifestations of a much deeper and fuller structure.  But even that surface glimpse is extremely enticing and exhilarating!  What\’s more, this new structure fits in beautifully with the Toltec teachings I have been working with over the past few years.  I am certain that it is not a coincidence that the elements of the Fulfillment Structure also correspond to the three Toltec Masteries:

  • Being                Truth             Mastery of Awareness
  • Doing                Power            Mastery of Transformation
  • Connecting        Love              Mastery of Intent

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