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Taking right and wrong off the table

In the bakery department of a grocery store last week, a woman walked up to select a freshly baked cookie from the mouth-watering selection of items. She whispered to me conspiratorially, “I just can’t give up these cookies!” I asked her if they made her happy and without meeting my eyes, said that yes before she quickly whisked herself away.

That chance encounter has me pondering what we are doing to ourselves when it comes to nutrition. There are so many stories about what is “good” for us (leaving us to navigate the “bad” waters with fear and guilt). These stories are so entwined in our belief systems that we often don’t even see that they’re really there. And are oftentimes driving our decision about what to choose.

What if you have a body that truly can receive anything? What if the truth of it all is that at the core of everything – food, drinks, clothes, humans – is an essential vibration of love? And when we connect into that vibration within ourselves, and then connect into that same energy for whatever is on our plate, then the whole game changes?

Digestion is a process that happens under the parasympathetic nervous system. This is the part of your nervous system that helps you recover from stressors and manages the body during rest. If the mind is actively judging what you are eating, creating verdicts of right and wrong, chances are this is also triggering the “inner critic,” which typically stresses us out because the story it create about ourselves is so harsh. This chain reaction of self-induced tension stimulates the sympathetic (fight or flight) part of the nervous system, reducing our ability to receive and digest whatever is on our plate. This can create a vicious cycle where our body’s feedback reflects our fears that we shouldn’t have just eaten whatever we did.

We can break the pattern by actively stimulating the vagus nerve, a major player in the sympathetic nervous system. You can do that by breathing deeply into your belly three to six times before you eat. Singing or chanting also stimulates the vagus nerve. Laughing is another way to nudge your system into low gear.

The most important piece of this is being present. This includes noticing the stories of the mind and breathing them into your heart with love and compassion. Presence means noticing the expectations that instantly arise when you make a choice and bringing yourself back to what you are actually experiencing. Being open to whatever is here in this moment. If your body does have a reaction or feels uncomfortable, noticing that you might be valuing that experience as bad or wrong and practicing embracing whatever your body is feeling instead.

When we take the stories off the table, we find much more joy and pleasure in appreciating what’s here. This opens us up to receiving nourishment in all places!

Nicola Dehlinger is a naturopathic doctor at Pura Vida Natural Healthcare in Durango. She can be reached at 426-1684 or www.puravidahealthcare.com.