Food for the Soul

Is it our soul that is hungry for something more, or is it some other part of our being? Should I harken instead to my body, mind, heart and spirit? And is it really hunger that creates that sense of insufficiency, loneliness, and fear of what is on its way? Perhaps I am allowing myself to get sidetracked into an unrealizable expectation that I accomplish something significant before my passing days have all passed. In the back of my mind, there is a voice telling me to just welcome each day as a gift, given for reasons unknown.

I don’t want to play with words, but I notice different kinds of experience each playing a role in how I feel about my life. Each of them participates in its own characteristic way throughout my encounters with people and situations, and in my thoughts and feelings.

Something in me resonates with the word “soul”, even though I can’t locate it in my body, my mind, my heart, or my spirit.

During an earlier not too distant time in my life, I did a morning exercise that made me more aware of these different centers of experience, each with its own sensibility. In this exercise, I look in a mirror and tell the face looking back, “I promise to care for you, body, mind, heart, and spirit.”

At first, the face looking back was too traumatized to hold eye-contact. Gradually, I started to see an aging man looking at me who seemed uncertain and sad. Over time, the daily reflections seemed to welcome the attention and I began to feel a warming nourishment during these morning promises.

I hadn’t done this practice for the past three years. Then a few days ago, I realized that I have once again been feeling anxious and not able to feel at peace. Reminded of the pain I felt four years ago, I’ve returned to doing this mirror practice.

Of course, I only see a reflection, not the one in whose body, mind, heart and spirit I feel my presence residing inside. But it may not be my imagination that the reflection looking back seems grateful. Perhaps both of us are hungry for something that we feel is in danger of slipping away.

It’s something of a mystery that I feel a soft spot for that reflection of my own face. But it makes sense to me that I have to be caring for myself if I am to be there for anyone else. I seem to be harboring some toxic emotion. I don’t think it is resentment, guilt, or anger. It feels more that I am afraid of the future. I’m not sure what to do about it. Do I need to forgive myself; do I need to accept that I am unable to control the onslaught of unwelcome change? Or is it gratitude, appreciation and love that is slipping away?

I tell myself that there are people feeling alone and afraid travelling in rickshaws, sipping margaritas on Ocean-going tour ships, brushing their teeth before bed, or lost in the deep woods. Why am I any different? And I try to remind myself that it shouldn’t be a huge task to just sit comfortably, feeling grateful for the company of my own soul.

4 comments to “Food for the Soul”
  1. I love these meanderings… I relate to much of the emotions you express. There is something inside us ( I think soul and spirit are the same thing) that longs for significance. Believing our life has purpose is the work of a lifetime. Believing there is a Creator makes sense when I think of the longings of the human heart. ( Again I think interchangeable with soul and spirit) Nevertheless, to find contentment with the small part we play in this gigantic universe , we need people who can mirror back to us the valuable human we are. Community is so important. So glad we get to be that for one another in our groups. I like the idea of looking at oneself in the mirror. Though I don’t look in the mirror I do ” preach to myself” about what I believe!!. I think I am meandering here today too!!

  2. Your ‘meanderings’ are rich and thought provoking. I feel happy to see your return to a recognition of the importance of caring for yourself. Thank you for reminding us all of why it matters.

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