Weekend Meditation: Nourishing the Hungry Ghosts

published Oct 31, 2010
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(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

It’s a deeply gray and rainy day, one hundred percent autumnal in its light and temperature and mood. It’s the kind of day where I cancel all obligations and stay tucked indoors, wandering throughout my apartment turning on the lights even though it’s barely 2pm. As I pass by the kettle, I flick its switch to boil some water for a cup of milky black tea and pull on an extra sweater scooped up from the closet floor.

On days like this, it’s important to know what is needed to nourish and satisfy, what will kindle a bit of brightness in my chest and keeps the shivers at bay.

For me it’s that cup of hot tea and my sheepy, shaggy slippers. It’s the promise of a hot bath scented with roses and black pepper and a hunker-down on the couch with a good read (or the next episode of Sherlock. Or both. But not simultaneously!) It’s something simple and salty and brothy for supper, like chicken soup maybe, and a nice piece of apple pie for dessert. It’s a good chat with a good friend, the warmth and connection flowing between us like blood.

In this life, we get a lot of training for things like how to read an expense report or create a spreadsheet. We spend hours behind the wheel before we get our driver’s license or years in the listening chair to become therapists. But somehow we never seem to get instructions on how to nourish and replenish ourselves, or how to even recognize when we’re overdone and depleted.

Without this replenishment, we end up only tasting the bitterness in things and our lives become nugget-like: hard and pale and small. Or just the too-strong, overly engineered flavors come through and we grow bloated and disengaged. We become restless with dissatisfaction, angry and agitated and, paradoxically, less and less able to recognize what is deeply nourishing and satisfying, even when its right in front of us. We become hungry ghosts: hollow, ravenous and incapable of ever being contented.

So on this day of Halloween and hungry ghosts, take a moment to discover what truly nourishes you. It’s best to start with the simple things, already close at hand. (In other words, don’t counterproductively add ‘Get Some Nourishment!’ to your must-do list.) A nap, for instance, might be just the thing, especially if you never take naps. Or Thai delivery and a movie at home. Or even just putting on your sheepy, shaggy slippers.

What do you do when your depleted and less than satisfied?

Related: Weekend Meditation: Silence

(Image: Dana Velden)