Cherish life. Nourish it.

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farmlandAs the last of the cotton crop is harvested from the rural areas east of us, the scenery changes dramatically. The fields, once draped with deep greenery and embellished with puffy bolls of cotton, are one by one plowed under, leaving the bare earth exposed.

The season is changing.

Though we still perspire under the burden of 90-plus degree heat, any pre-dawn venture outside these days whispers quietly of the cooler temperatures of fall.

Seasons, and change, are an inevitable part of life. Each serves its purpose. Autumn is a time of rest, a time to recharge the soil’s energies so the earth will be fruitful once again at its next cultivation. The harvest completed, success is evaluated, failures accounted for. Areas needing improvement are noted. Nothing is wasted: even the fibrous leftovers of the crop are given back to the earth to nourish it for what’s to come.

If we take our cue from nature, we recognize that nourishing ourselves sometimes calls for acts that seem at odds with our driven, high pressure lifestyle. While we may feel compelled to work 20 hour days like (we think) everyone else is, or to keep pushing ourselves with no regard for natural human limitations, those feelings don’t serve to nourish us, and cannot contribute to a sense of peace. Rather, feelings like these uphold the belief that there’s never “enough”-achievement, education, accolade, money, possessions, power.

Just as our planet has limitations, so too does the human body. For some, the title of this post, “Fallow”, may conjure images of uncultivated, unproductive land. Perhaps even land that no one cares for. But fallow can also be defined as “dormant, quiescent potential”. To access our own sense of potential, we must wait patiently, free from distraction, for it to quietly surface.

How fruitful is our life? Some seasons are more productive than others. And the more productive the season, the more care, preparation and recharging are required beforehand. When we learn to accept this fact, it’s as if we’d stepped outside in the morning to find a refreshing change in the air.

Just as we can see the beauty in a freshly plowed field, its symmetry embracing the contours of the landscape, so too we can learn to watch for the seasons of our own life.  When we sense a time for change, quiet contemplation allows us to fully experience the moment. We can turn over new soil.  We can use the leftovers of past experiences as soul nourishment and fertilizer for what’s next. We can learn to respect the fact that germination and gestation of new ideas and personal growth take time. Time when there may appear, on the surface of things, to be nothing much happening. 

But we know better. We give ourselves permission to enjoy the process. And we look forward to our next season with curiosity and anticipation.


Sleep, Part 3: Rituals vs Routines

A bubble bath Rituals are a part of every society. They differ greatly from routines, and are much more powerful. How can understanding the difference between the two help us craft a nourished life in which restful sleep plays a part? Let’s see.

Routines can be described as being:

  • Minimally engaging
  • Focused on completing tasks rather than enjoying the process
  • Duty based
  • Tedious
  • Acts contributing little to our sense of belonging
  • Externally motivated
  • A low awareness activity

Rituals, however, are much more nourishing. They:

  • Are fully engaging
  • Tell a story
  • Brighten awareness
  • Are process oriented
  • Foster joy and peace
  • Are internally motivated
  • Are celebration based
  • Add to our sense of belonging
  • Often feature symbolism and create a sense of purpose

Most of us would agree that the second set of options describes a much greater quality of life. Celebrating our life, lifting awareness so we are more conscious of our blessings, and having peaceful moments are all nourishing tools in the quest for best quality sleep. Being fully present in activities of our choice as we slow down from a busy day and prepare for rest will help us feel more connected with our body, and will reinforce the fact that we are worth our own best efforts in self care. 

What rituals might you choose?

  • A warm bath, scented with herbs or natural essential oils
  • Listening to soothing music
  • Listening to a book on tape (bedtime stories for grown-ups!)
  • Reading by soft light
  • Selecting our outfit and accessories for the next day to reduce the morning rush
  • Some slow, gentle stretches
  • Deep breathing
  • Massaging your feet with natural moisturizers

Our life has a story. When we use the power of positive story as a tool for nourishment, we relax into our life, as it is right now, imperfections and all. To illustrate, maybe we are a working mom, or a working single mom, who feels like the last thing she’ll ever have time for is self-care. Just the thought, “I’ll never have time for me”, creates a stress response. It’s a negative story, one based on scarcity (not enough) and a sense of endless sacrifice. Negative stories and stress responses rattling around in our brain are certainly counterproductive for sleep.

But changing that thought to, “I’m going to turn off the TV or computer 30 minutes earlier so I can listen to some music and have a relaxing bath”, creates a sense of purpose, a sense that we are worthy, and that life is manageable.

Maybe we are so busy that we don’t have any TV time to give up: what then? Evaluating and streamlining some tasks around the house will allow you some precious moments for a nourishing bedtime ritual. There is always time for the things that matter. And you definitely do.