I had a conversation with a friend the other day about the new garden she has been cultivating recently and the joy this was bringing her.
As I heard her talk about compost, fertile soil, sunshine and budding seedlings, I began to contemplate the concepts of nourishment and nutrients as it related to my life and my soul. What do I need to bloom this spring?
It feels like it’s been a long winter. And as I walk down the street without a mask, the sun warm on my skin, I realize that I’m noticing not just the budding of springtime but what feels to me like budding normalcy of a new Covid-19 era.
Flowers are open and restaurants are open.
People are dancing together and new leaves on trees are swaying.
I notice feeling alive, like what I imagine a bear feels coming out of hibernation (who knows, maybe they’re just super hungry…)
Yet, I still feel a gravitational pull towards the hibernation life I adapted to.
When shelter in place occurred, most of us had a drastic shift in our routine. Part of my experience was losing things that enlivened me: being with my community, attending grad school in person, dancing, ceramics, my gym, yoga, even my daily bike commute.
I’ll note that what was not stripped away was my job, nor my health and I recognize that the story I’m telling here is possible because of the privilege I have –the privilege to relax, and not fear for or grieve the lives those closest to me.
That conversation is important to have in another blog post, but here I am telling a story about nourishment.
Feeding the Soul
I adapted to new my routine of much less activity in my life and as I did so, I noticed my nervous system relax. I slept longer and I slept well.
I did jigsaw puzzles in between work meetings and I joined the throws of people making sourdough bread from scratch. I had time.
While I missed spending time with friends, there was also something relieving about not feeling obliged to social plans or gym routines. Spring was also springing in Minneapolis where I was living at the time after living in San Francisco for many years.
Feeling the grass beneath my bare feet, seeing the trees turn green and listening to birds chirping was truly nourishing to me.
I had also just moved in with a partner that I had been seeing for years long distance, so of course there was love and joy that filled me and fed me during this time too. During this time, I felt my soul replenishing in a way that I hadn’t experienced in a long time.
I know that part of that was due to the circumstances I just described, and I believe some if it was due, in part, to having the time to simply be.
Being allows us to touch into our true nature in a way that the busy-ness of normal life prevents. And feeding the soul feels yummy. Thomas Moore (see video below), a scholar in spirituality and depth psychotherapy, describes the soul as that which makes you feel comforted and secure.
I find myself describing the soul using the language of food: feeding, yummy, full, nutrients, comfort, and nourishment.
A Balancing Act
As I reflect on these transitions, and what I need to feel nourished, I think about balancing scales. Shelter in place actually calibrated the scales of my nervous system by preventing me from participating in a life that while fun was also non-stop. Through this, I realized that my body actually needed rest.
Had I been paying more attention to my body before the onset of shelter-in-place, I might have had this realization sooner, and adapted accordingly. This concept – changing what I need based on shifting circumstances is referred to by Gestalt therapists as as organismic self-regulation.
“Self-regulation refers to the range of choices and creative adjustments we make from moment to moment as we adapt to changing circumstances.”
“We regulate ourselves according to need. Organismic self-regulation is when we regulate ourselves according to needs that arise from our natural organsimic functioning.”
And now, two years later, I am noticing the scales feel out of balance. Recently, I noticed feeling antsy and sad. I noticed my body yearning to move more, to go places, to make things, and to use more creativity. I long to sing and dance and play. With people. In person. Activity is calling to me.
Two years ago, my organism needed to rest in a way that I didn’t even notice until I got it. Now, what I need to bloom is creativity, movement, and community. Things have shifted yet again. The sweet thing though, is that I know that by listening to myself in a deep and intentional way, I can tap into my soul’s needs and nourish myself.
What Do You Need to Nourish Yourself?
So I invite you to consider this for yourself. You are a natural organism of this earth, and you need different nutrients to grow. And not just grow… what nutrients make you bloom in the colors you love?
When you stop for a moment, how do you feel?
- Are you exhausted?
- Do you desire to spend more time with friends and family or do you yearn to have some more space and time for just yourself?
- How permeable are your boundaries right now? (i.e might your boundaries need to be thicker to provide more protection to yourself, or might they need to be more porous allowing yourself to be impacted by others?)
- What is your relationship to hustle? Stillness? Nature?
- Did any of this shift for you during Covid-19?
Covid-19 changed so much for many of us, most notably, for those who lost loved ones. And to those of you for whom this is true, this question is perhaps even more important: what does your soul need from you right now? And is it possible to gift it to yourself?
If you are struggling to nourish your soul, Well Clinic can help. Contact us for a free consultation today.
About the Author
Sadie says, “The goal, as I see it, is to feel the full spectrum of emotions, to become the person we want to be, and to have meaningful and fulfilling relationships. At the heart of this, I believe, is the cultivation and nourishment of a wise self.”