We are what we eat. We know this, and yet in the aftermath of a harrowing upbringing, or after a stressful day in a difficult job, we often find ourselves gulping down oily, salty, sugary, and ugly junk food. Our stomach and intestines dutifully break down whatever we ingest, but potato chips and candy bars send shock waves through the blood stream, and many of us end up with high cholesterol, hypertension, and diabetes.
Digestion proceeds from mouth, to stomach, to small intestine, to colon, to anus. Mechanical and enzymatic action deconstructs each bite of food into its basic components: amino acids, fats, sugars, nucleic acids, and so on. The intestinal lining then absorbs these molecules for our body’s purposes. Although digestion slows when we feel stressed, it does its best to support us, providing energy and materials for our daily lives.
Despite our culture’s addiction to high calorie, salty, sugary, and fatty foods, our bodies feel better when we eat good, wholesome food that isn’t laced with pesticides, preservatives, and empty calories. How much healthier to fill the inner channel with what it craves, yet how difficult that can be!
Mindful Biology, like any mindfulness practice, can help calm agitated nervous systems and reduce the secretion of stress hormones. It can also bring us into sweeter relationship with this inner life of digestion, that proceeds beneath awareness, keeping us alive. We can grow more mindful of what’s happening within, and choose to offer our bodies healthier nourishment. We can savor our meals, concentrating on the act of eating, rather than devouring junk food while driving or watching TV. We can feel more loving toward the food we eat and the way our bodies can transform what we swallow into Life itself.