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Brighton Journal | September 22, 2019

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What Is Hunger? What Are We Feeding? How Do We Nourish Ourselves?

What Is Hunger? What Are We Feeding? How Do We Nourish Ourselves?
Hannah Midgley

Nothing reveals us as powerfully as our relationship with food. We ingest food many times each day and always in accordance with lack or trust. We nourish either our lack or our trust. When we are calm, peaceful, and trusting, we consume enough to sustain our light, but when we are restless and frightened, we feed the imemine. One of the most powerful awareness exercises we can undertake is to simply observe our diet.It is not possible to overeat, only to consume sufficient amounts to feed prosperity or scarcity, depending on which of the two you decide to invest in, consciously or unconsciously. By the same token, it is not possible to be too heavy, just as heavy as you have made yourself. Energy can only be invested, not dissipated; on the other hand, how you invest it is your privilege. Whether you argue for your limitations or greatness, you must prove perspective.

Sometimes, we eat out of pure greed, sometimes to hide suffering, but in between we manage to feel something we call hunger. Let’s shed a little light on the word “hunger” and how feelings of hunger can provide great emotional insight when we are aware. Let’s look at it in connection with everyday habits.

Let’s say you’ve had a good breakfast but come lunchtime, you have to attend a meeting that takes about an hour, and by one-thirty you are feeling hungry. Or at least you feel something that you usually call hunger. It is a special feeling in the belly that everyone is familiar with, a slight nagging feeling, sometimes accompanied by light cramps and a gurgling sound.

Is that hunger? If not, what is it?

The body needs water and cannot be without it for more than a short time, which is hardly surprising, since we are about 55 to 60 percent water. The average human being can only live for about four to five days without water. It’s as simple as that. But what about food, how much nutrition does the body need and at what intervals?

Of course, we need sustenance—no doubt about that. And it’s healthier for the body if it is nourished at regular intervals. Nevertheless, we can actually be without food for a very long time. Many in the medical profession say it is somewhere between four and six weeks; other estimates vary. The amount of time also differs from person to person and depends on what state of health a person is in. Certain people who have gone on hunger strikes have lasted for over two months. Two months without food!

I am not suggesting you starve yourself. Not at all! We all need nourishment. But it is a necessary preamble to this next question: What is hunger? If we can go without food for many days, even weeks, without dying of hunger, what is that discomfort we feel and call hunger? Is it hunger or something else? Is this the body calling out for nourishment or food because it is restless? Is the mind looking for a distraction, some way to abandon itself?

Why do we feel as if we need to put something in our mouths immediately? Why do we exaggerate and say that we are “dying” of hunger? Why are we so deprived and empty? Is it possible that we are starving to be united with our heart, yearning to be present and unified, not scattered or fragmented? Is it possible that we use food to reconnect with ourselves, to ground ourselves? Food and our relationship with it is certainly the most powerful tool we have to reflect and reveal how we truly feel about ourselves. Whether we are abusive or loving is clearly reflected by whether we nourish consciously with love or “eat like animals” to sustain absence and scarcity.

Some live with a strong passion for life, others merely trundle along, trying to feel as little as possible. Not everyone taps into equal amounts of energy. But the energy itself is everywhere—in ourselves and in all our surroundings. The fact is everything has its source in what we identify as electricity or energy. All cells are driven by electricity, whether in us or in other creatures. And all cells can either be “turned on” or “turned off”— they can be alive or dormant. Notice how much electricity has crept into the language we use (charged, juiced, electrifying, etc.) If all cells use electricity—do you think it matters whether we eat living or dead food? Is the charge in our cells likely to be related to or affected by the charge in the food we consume?

What happens when a cell does not receive sufficient nourishment? It burns with too small a flame. A cell can be compared to a small wooden stove, and the way it burns is relatively simple. Like the stove, the cell has a particular spatial capacity and uses a particular kind of fuel. To ensure that the fuel burns, we have to make sure there is enough oxygen. We do this by opening the vents. If we close them again we know the flames will extinguish quickly. The formula for burning energy, whether it be in a stove or in an organic process, is as simple as that: Space—oxygen—fuel (spark of life and light combustion oxidation)

Little oxygen—little fire.
A great deal of oxygen—the fuel burns too quickly.
Little fuel makes for a small fire—too much space.
A lot of fuel suffocates the fire—too little space.
If the stove needs cleaning, the fire will not burn brightly. Damp or rotten wood makes for slow burning.

Gudni Gunnarsson

Featured image by Pedro Klien

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