Heart Hunger

Last summer, I read Mindful Eating by Jan Chozen Bays. These words—her words—stayed with me: "Most unbalanced relationships with food are caused by being unaware of heart hunger. No food can ever satisfy this form of hunger. To satisfy it, we must learn how to nourish our hearts." The word "food" is easily replaced by others: work, social media, news, shopping, exercise. (We have many unbalanced relationships.) There's much that consumes us and that we consume. But what do we really seek? What are the whispers of our hearts?

When I was in academia—unsatisfied but unaware—I bought myself books, clothes, and housewares. I didn't look at price tags nor did I consciously choose. It was an unskilled version of self-care: consumption that didn't nourish my heart. From this same place, I hosted parties and filled my social calendar. I was consumed by what people thought of me. My worthiness came from externals. Eventually, my freedom came from within: The connection I craved most was connection with myself.

Yesterday, I found 3-year-old notebook scribblings (a page entitled "Funk Freedom"): Talk about the difficult stuff. Get outside. Create. Move my body. Meditate. Listen. Open my heart. Hug. Take a break. Smile. Meditate. Be kind. Have lunch with a friend. Dig in the dirt. Chop vegetables. Dance. Cry. Meditate. Donate my time. Watch the light. Photograph. Laugh.

These were (still are) ways for me to nourish my heart. True medicine, not band-aids. When I lapse into craving-mind—that uneasy feeling of not-enough—I try to pause. When I remember to pause, breathe, and be, I better access my basic-goodness; I better access wisdom and awareness, and these lead to conscious choices. Choices that fill my heart.