From 2001 to 2002, I studied Classical Five Element Acupuncture at the Institute of Taoist Education and Acupuncture in Louisville, Colorado. I was truly fascinated by this intricate and beautiful system of healing and preventative medicine. What particularly interested me was the deeper emotional and spiritual levels that were an intricate part of the healing process.
The following is an excerpt from an essay I wrote about the Earth element, which has everything to do with food, the stomach and digestive system, late summer and the harvest, and feeling nourished and nurtured which goes beyond the physical level into the emotional and spiritual.
The field of plenty of Mother Earth gives forth prosperity and abundance during the Harvest of Late Summer, producing and offering nourishment to all of the bodies, minds and souls of all children and creatures of this world. As John Robbins expresses, “Eating is essentially an act of communion with the living forces of nature” (p. 21). Every bite we eat of the food that is produced from the commingling of the Elements connects us to the source that created it.
As Thich Nhat Hanh expresses, “This food reveals our connection with the Earth. Each bite contains the life of the sun and the Earth. The extent to which our food reveals itself depends on us. We can see and taste the whole universe in a piece of bread! Contemplating our food for a few seconds before eating, and eating in mindfulness, can bring us much happiness” (Robbins 28).
Practicing this sense of communion connects us to the sacredness that food brings into our lives. To be fed is to be blessed; yet it is so easy to eat absentmindedly with no connection to how the food is enlivening not only our bodies, but our minds and souls as well. I might add the phrase, “You are how you eat” to the old saying, “You are what you eat.” To be able to receive the full benefit that food has to offer us, we need to be able to see what a blessing it is.
MFK Fisher suggests, “Anytime we eat, its holy. We should have ritual and ceremony, not just gobbling down food to keep alive.” And Mahatma Gandhi said, “To a man with an empty stomach, food is God.” The foods that grow from the Earth are the gifts from the Divine to Her children, forever taking care of our needs. This beautiful relationship between Mother and Child is expressed in the bonds between a mother and her baby in the following passage:
The composition of human mothers’ milk is not static, nor is it dead. It changes from day to day in response to the needs of the baby. It is a living process of communication at the deepest biological level between mother and baby. It is an expression of the mother’s love and caring and a reflection of the deep symbiotic cooperation of the mother-child bond (Robbins 125).
Since writing this essay, I have had the honor to experience this mother-child relationship with my son, Elijah who is now nine and a half months old. Although I had some challenges as a new mom breastfeeding for the first time, I am still on awe of how amazingly perfect the nourishment is that comes from me for him. Furthermore, it continues to show me the deeper meanings of “being fed” and how being truly hungry is actually a hunger for love, acceptance and nourishment in our deep heart.
John Robbins sums this up beautifully in the following passage:
There are many forms of hunger. There is the hunger for food, and there is the hunger for love, for purpose, for truth. There is a hunger for health, for happiness. There is the hunger for companionship, for inner peace, for the sense that we belong. There is the hunger for laughter, and there is the hunger for God. The hunger that lives in the human heart is part of the kinship that threads us all together. We are interdependent beings with a profound need both to give and to receive from each other.