Thursday, October 13, 2011

Nourishment: In the Breath

Have you ever just craved nourishment?  How do you get it physically, emotionally, spiritually?  Because I have these questions and I want answers, I've asked a series of people to come in and share how they find nourishment.  Will you come along for the journey?  We will meet here every Thursday until the posts  run out.  Have something to share about nourishment?  Contact me and we will set a date!  
Meet Michelle.  She is my yoga instructor and friend.  We bonded while watching our children do gymnastics hour after hour.  Who knew one could bond so tightly in a warm, slightly smelly gym?  I am ever thankful for her honesty and openness, no matter what I have to say.
photo source
I am so honored to be a guest and to share with you my thoughts on nourishment.  Thank you for the invitation Jen, and for all of those whose amazing words came before mine. They have been inspiring and enlightening!

I found myself excited by all the ways nourishment presents itself.  So off to the dictionary, the dictionary from my computer, in an attempt to reel in my enthusiasm. The dictionary helpfully systematizes my understanding of nourishment with these words:  “the substances necessary for growth, health and good condition.”  I must add love.

For me, nourishment encompasses being purposeful in all facets of my life. It can be simply showing up for myself and others, fully present with the courage to lead with my heart and the intent to be kind, compassionate, and loving…(I could go on forever here). Nourishment has many faces and often changes with the seasons.

In my life, nourishment begins with reverence, gratitude and grace whether it is in the form of prayer, meditation, journaling, blogging, speaking, practicing, (physical activity – yoga, running etc.) or simply being.  It is followed by what I put in my mouth and what comes out of it. It knocks on the door in the form of breathing (not the in and out repetitive non-conscious breathing, the kind that fills you with sustenance…more on this) food(the kind that is produced from the earth) and dialogue (inner and outer stemming from loving kindness).   It materializes in my lifestyle choices. 

Being mindful of what goes in and out of my mouth is not easy.  Sometimes convenience presents itself and I want to give in by choosing foods that are not nourishing but fast.  It’s easier to drive through, just throw any ol' thing into the cart without understanding what is in it or where it came from or by letting the kids buy prepackaged food that is sold everywhere. It can be tiring contending with society and good marketing vying for the girl’s (all of our) attention to make healthy choices.  Then it hits me; isn’t it worth the fight to provide and seek knowledge so my family can continue to make healthy nourishing choices throughout life? Giving our bodies the best possible growth avenue? Will what we are about to consume provide my family with the nutrients needed to live a healthy active life?  Is it made with love? The same goes for what comes out of my mouth. It is mostly in the way I talk to myself (condemning, judging, shoulding) but can sometimes extend to what I say to others. Can I nourish others with my words? Can I nourish myself with my thoughts?

Nourishment can surprise me by making a guest appearance in the form of letting go or the act of surrendering what no longer serves my mind or body. I sometimes find it while taking the first sip of coffee (not saying coffee is nourishing -- I’m aware of its faults) in a quiet house with only a glimmer of light and the auspiciousness of a new day. It kicks me out of bed on a cold morning with the promise of nourishing my family and to sip said coffee.  It envelops me in the form of my husband’s loving arms around me. It lures me awake in the middle of the night in the form of my child snuggling so close her nose touches mine all the while knowing I will not get an ounce of sleep but will feel nourished with the notion that I provided love and security for her. It’s ever present in my children’s words, laughter, and actions (even in when naughty creeps in -harder, much harder to feel nourished with affirmation that every situation is a teachable one).  I am most comforted in knowing that when I feel depleted there is so much nourishment that surrounds me. It’s available for me to grab hold of. Below is a practice in nourishment. It can be done when you feel depleted or mindful...

Nourishment practice:

You can do this anywhere (a car, a chair, in your bed, on a cushion, at the grocery store). Begin bringing awareness to your breath (just as an observer – leaving judgment at the back door). Inhale more deeply let it fill your entire mid section extending to your spine, side body all the way to your lower belly. Exhale (slowly) all of your air out through your nose. Continue to breathe deep adding nourishment every time you inhale. Let it be expansive. Exhale what no longer serves you (negative self talk, anything that resides in the form of toxicity). You can do it 3 times or 300.  It’s always accessible no matter where you are.   Nourishment is a breath away.

Gratitude, love and all smiles, Michelle

Want to read more of Michelle?  Click here to read/follow/subscribe to her blog, Yoga and Randomness.


  1. To nourish the body as well as the mind...but most importantly the soul.

    So far, every time I finished with my yoga practice, I am ready to be nourished by His Words. I feel open and receptive to His Teachings.

    Nourishment has to be accepted in the way that it comes.

    Thank you Jen for sharing.


  2. Thank you for that, Michelle. I think you make a good point that nourishment surrounds us if we just look around and recognize it. I think in our busy lives we forget to do that. We just feel depleted much of the time and forget to nourish ourselves. I so hear you about trying to make healthy food choices as well. I was very frustrated with that this week during my grocery trip! Ugh! :)

  3. Michelle,
    First of all, great picture! Second, it's always fun to read new voices...especially voices that are real-life friends with one of my real-life freinds!

    There are so many good truths that I can pull from this post, but the big quetion you present that sticks with me is "Can I nourish myself with my thoughts?"

    I know the answer to that is yes, but I neglect to do that kind of nourishing.

    Lately, I've been demanding with myself, critical of my actions, and not at all nourishing. Then, I'm left wondering why I feel anxious and stressed.

    Yes, it's time to do some exhaling, but I don't think 3 times is enough...I'm closer to needing that 300!

    Nice meeting you, Michelle.

  4. "I must add love." Perfect!

    Thanks for the post!

  5. Hi Michelle.
    You have motivated me to spend more time thinking about what goes into my mouth and what comes out of it.

    Thanks for adding to the discussion on nourishment.


  6. Maria, one of my favorite ways to end my or students yoga practice is either lying down or in a comfortable seated position with the intention of opening the heart to receive God's word. Kelli, here's to better options at the grocery store so you don't have to get frustrated. Amy, Truly,I thank you for your kind thoughtful words! For me thoughts are tough as well. I try not to should all over myself - easier said than done ;). Have fun inhaling and exhaling 300 times - let me know if you get dizzy... Carolyn, thank you!

  7. Hi, Michelle. Since we had kids I have been oh so very mindful of what they eat, not only to make sure their bodies are strong, but also to teach them how to eat well so when they are on their own they make good choices.
    But we have not forgotten the same is true for their spiritual nourishment. We have to teach them how to fill their souls while under our care so they make good choices when they are gone. Thank you for a great article!

  8. Michelle -- thank you so much for sharing your beautiful words with us. May we be cognizant of how we nourish ourselves and others today...

  9. What an interesting perspective! I had not thought about nourishment in quite this way before. However, it makes sense. Nourishment is not simply what we physically eat and put in our mouths, it has entails the things and ideas that are in our environment. If we have poor nourishment in these areas, our bodies as well as our souls can suffer a great deal.

    Great thoughts! :)

  10. Endless gratitude to all who read and shared your kind and thought-FULL words. It is so amazing to be apart of this community. Gaby, so true about spiritual nourishment and filling their souls - thought provoking wonderfulness. May each of you have a magnificently nourishing week filled with love!


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