Soul Food

When we think of food, many labels come to mind—organic, local, all-natural, conventionally grown, genetically modified. The health-conscious among us try to stick to homegrown, organic and locally grown foods—the best stuff out there. But your body’s fuel consists of much more than food. What do you truly “feed” your body? Do these messages nourish and support your soul?

If you start your day with a cup of organic coffee and free-range scrambled eggs but then run to catch the train, worry about your kids and feel anxious about your to-do list, that great morning start means next to nothing. Just as we feed our bodies nourishing foods to reap the best health benefits, we need to feed ourselves encouraging thoughts and graceful, relaxing moments to catch our breath.

Your body works hard to keep you moving and to accomplish everything on your list. Oftentimes, we push ourselves past the point of exhaustion, staying up late to pay bills, make dinner for the next day, sign permission slips, etc., when our bodies are sending us messages that we simply need to stop. Soul food is whole body-mind-spirit food. It’s the goodness that we put into our mouths and surround ourselves with. It’s the happiness that we bring to our daily lives by giving ourselves time to stop, breathe and smile. And it’s the messages that we silently feed ourselves and outwardly feed others. Do you speak words of kindness and encouragement or could you make a bit of room for improvement?

Start with yourself. Look in the mirror and speak aloud all of the words that come to mind, whether positive or negative. Then take a moment to reflect on the negatives. How can they be turned into attributes? For example, instead of “worrier” you are “compassionate”.  Then repeat your list again, this time speaking only the positive words—smart, beautiful, creative, motivated, sensitive, compassionate. Feel those words soak beneath your skin and become part of who you are. Repeat this activity a few times a day until you feel the positive effect of those words on your daily life.

Then turn the camera beyond yourself. Notice how you embrace others. Do you take a step backward when you talk? Do you fold your arms? Or do you warmly and openly greet those around you? Notice the expression on your face and the reactions others have to the way you express yourself. As you become aware, soften your face, let your arms drop and speak kind words.

Once you have fed yourself and others this ounce of goodness, begin to tie everything together. That good food you put into your body is now further supported by good thoughts, soft, calm expressions and a loving heart that embraces others. Can you feel your soul smiling?