What happens spiritually when we eat

Spiritual hunger: when food doesn't fill you up

Food Cravings: An Evil I Struggled With For Years. Especially during my studies, eating became a real torture. As soon as the lectures were over, all my thoughts turned to the next meal. Every day on the way home I imagined how I would raid my kitchen a few minutes later. It doesn't matter whether it's chocolate, chips or yesterday's leftovers: the main thing is that this irrepressible desire to eat is satisfied. Does this insatiability sound familiar to you? Then it's time to take a closer look.

Eat so as not to feel

For a long time, eating disorders was an umbrella term for abnormal eating behavior. Anorexia, bulimia and binge eating are classics. However, not everyone with a difficult relationship with food is inevitably considered to be eating disorders. On the contrary: many people experience a milder form of suffering.

We eat the way we eat, because we are afraid to feel what we feel.

- Geneen Roth

We eat how we eat because we are afraid to feel what we are feeling. A phenomenon that is also called more emotional or more spiritualhunger referred to as. We hide the uncomfortable sides of life and look for ways to escape them. We addictively reach for food to fill the feeling of inner emptiness. Food becomes a drug.

In the frenzy of eating, we experience brief moments of happiness and feel good. But feelings of guilt or shame quickly catch up with us. An unpleasant side effect, which is usually followed by more binge eating. A vicious circle develops, which we try to escape with diets or strict forms of nutrition. Often there is no success because we only treat the symptom of the actual, deeper problem.

>> Workshop tip: Franzi will be on tour throughout Germany in autumn 2018 with workshops on emotional hunger - a visit is worth it!

Starving for something you can't eat

Spiritual hunger is not physical hunger, but an exclamation from the soul. While the hunger of the body is directed towards food, the soul cries out for life, for food on all levels.

Did you know that you are made up of more than one body? In the Upanishads, humans are described as being made up of five shells that are stacked one on top of the other. Each of these so-called Koshas has its very own function. At the core is our physical body. This food envelope is surrounded by the energy, emotion and intellectual envelope. The outermost layer forms the envelope of joy. It is also described as the seat of the soul.

While physical hunger corresponds to the needs of the food envelope, spiritual hunger can be seen as an expression of the needs of the other layers. And there is much more to it than just eating - just like yoga involves much more than just asana practice on the mat.

True satiety through holistic practice

Just as plants cannot grow without light, no matter how much they are watered, we cannot nourish all of our bodies equally without holistic practice. The various yoga practices such as asana (physical exercises), pranayama (breathing exercises) and meditation are designed as a holistic system and affect various aspects of ourselves. We nourish and cleanse our koshas, ​​break down blockages and stimulate the flow of energy.

Just as you encounter your yoga mat, so do you face your own life.

Following this advice from my teacher Eka Kailashhin, I began to observe what actually happened to me during my asana practice. I noticed that “running away” and “avoiding uncomfortable states” were two recurring themes. I often ran away from difficult asanas as much as I ran away from problems in real life.

It was only when I began to apply the small lessons of my yoga practice to my everyday life that I had the feeling of arriving at myself. I began to face the uncomfortable moments in life instead of eating them into myself.

Get the practice off the mat

In order to satisfy the spiritual hunger sustainably, we have to expand our own practice to all areas of life. Yoga as an attitude to life takes place at all times and means recognizing your own true needs and meeting them in the here and now. Especially with food cravings it is important to look very carefully.

How you can specifically practice not to fall victim to cravings

  • The next time you feel cravings, take a deep breath instead of reaching for something to eat. This short break is the first step in breaking down your old behavior.
  • Take advantage of this moment and ask yourself where your hunger really comes from. Is it your body that craves food? If the answer is no, then go inside again: What is it really that you are longing for right now? You may find yourself confronted with an uncomfortable feeling that you would like to numb with food. Remember, eating is not a long-term solution in this case.
  • Ask yourself what you really need. You may be longing for a break. A couple of hours in which you can do what you want? Maybe you also have the feeling that you don't want to be alone with your sensation. A meeting with friends can work wonders here. Listen to your inner voice and you will be surprised what you are really “hungry” for.
  • Instead, practice. Anything. Pranayama, asana, chanting. Turn on your favorite song and dance around the living room for a few minutes. This audio meditation by the wonderful healer Abby Wynne on the subject of “Avoiding Emotional Eating” is also great. Then ask yourself the question again, what are you longing for right now.
  • Do not judge yourself for eating, but be kind to yourself while eating. Plan your meals and cook something healthy for you that is comfortable for you and that you can look forward to. Go shopping in peace and quiet and treat yourself to the more expensive, delicious groceries. Consciously and gratefully take every bite of your meal. Chew slowly and don't do anything on the side. Eating becomes a mindful practice.

How are you doing with food cravings and what do you do about your spiritual hunger? I look forward to your comments.

All the best, your Franzi

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