Jan 302011
Eating by The Hidaway

How do you feel after watching a sad movie or reading a depressing book? Most likely, you would feel awful. But when you watch a comedy or read a light-hearted novel, you are likely to feel good. As you can see, the way we choose to nourish ourselves can produce different results. In fact, it can make or break us. Yet when it comes to our nourishment, most of us follow our moods and passions without considering the long-term effects. While it may not be immediately apparent, every action and choice we make in life has a price. We can choose to pay it now or later. If you wish to take control of your life, then it is important that you pay close attention to the way you nourish yourself.

Yijing Hexagram 27: Nourishment/The Corners of the Mouth

I-Ching Hexagram 27 by Ben Finney

This hexagram is a picture of an open mouth; above and below are firm lines of the lips, and between them the opening. Starting with the mouth, through which we take food for nourishment, the thought leads to nourishment itself. Nourishment of oneself, specifically of the body, is represented in the three lower lines, while the three upper lines represent nourishment and care of others, in a higher, spiritual sense.


The Corners of the Mouth.
Perseverance brings good fortune.
Pay heed to the providing of nourishment
And to what a man seeks
To fill his own mouth with.

In bestowing care and nourishment, it is important that the right people should be taken care of and that we should attend to our own nourishment in the right way. If we wish to know what anyone is like, we have only to observe on whom he bestows his care and what sides of his own nature he cultivates and nourishes. Nature nourishes all creatures. The great man fosters and takes care of superior men, in order to take care of all men through them. Mencius says about this:

If we wish to know whether anyone is superior or not, we need only observe what part of his being he regards as especially important. The body has superior and inferior, important and unimportant parts. We must not injure important parts for the sake of the unimportant, nor must we injure the superior parts for the sake of the inferior. He who cultivates the inferior parts of his nature is an inferior man. He who cultivates the superior parts of his nature is a superior man.

Ineffective Nourishment

It was not so long ago when I had little control over my emotions. Part of the problem was the way I nourished my mind. I usually thought and perceived things in a very negative manner. Whenever I felt depressed, which was often when you think negatively, I fed those feelings by watching and reading things that only made me feel worse. As such, it took me forever to get out of my funk; I was always moody and unhappy.

Depressed in Paris by Toni Birrer

The Importance of Proper Nourishment

“You are what you eat,” goes the familiar saying. If you eat junk food or if you eat in excess, you are bound to have health problems eventually. Applied in a broader sense, the way you nourish your mind is also important. Externally, the things you read, watch and listen to can affect your moods. Internally, you are what you think.

Imagine, if you have negative thoughts all the time, how will you have the inner strength to handle challenges in life? If you read, watch or listen to depressing stuff, how will you cope when problems come your way? When you leave your nourishment on autopilot, it is bound to cause needless problems. But inner turmoil does not have to be your default state. You too can have inner peace, but you have to take control and make an effort to nourish yourself in a beneficial way.

The Art of Proper Nourishment

1. Clarity of Purpose

When it comes to nourishment, it helps to know why. Why are you reading, watching or listening to something? What is your purpose? If you want to relax, it might not make sense to watch a serious or depressing movie. If you are sad, it does not help to listen to sad and melancholic music to excess. Being unaware of your motives could lead you to nourish yourself in ways that are not beneficial. But once you are clear about your purpose and motives, you can make the needed changes to nourish yourself in better ways.

2. Choose the Healthier Alternative

There are healthier alternatives in life. When it comes to food, we could eat less red meat and more fruits and vegetables. Instead of a sad movie, we could watch a comedy or something light-hearted. Even though I am not big on feel good movies, there are times I need to feel good. If it means watching the Incredibles or Kung Fu Panda, so be it. Or if I need something more uplifting, I may watch Rocky. But you know best what works for you. So always, choose the healthier alternative.

3. Balance is the Key

I am not suggesting that we should only watch, read and listen to happy things and live in a bubble. All I am saying is that we should be aware of our moods and needs. If we are in a good mood, it does not hurt to watch something serious. But if we are down, then it is best to find something that is upbeat. Imagine a simple scale with happy and sad on the opposing ends. If you are on the happy side, all is well. You just have to make sure that you do not cross over to the sad side. If you are on the sad side, not all is lost. All you have to do is to find ways and means to reach equilibrium and then cross over to happy again. Balance is the key.

4. The Vizier Recommends

Ever since I began my journey to master myself, I have paid careful attention to my nourishment. Things that make me sad and serve no purpose, I avoid. Instead, I seek sources of nourishment that can improve my knowledge, wisdom and bring me inner peace. To this end, I would also recommend the websites below.

Always Well Within: If you want to live fully and transform your heart and mind, Sandra Lee’s blog is a good place to start. I love her gentle wisdom and insights into life and living. Be warned though. Hers is not a lightweight blog, as she puts it. It is for people who have no fear about thinking deeply and bringing about positive change in their lives.

Britetalk: I love Andrea’s writing because of her warmth and happiness. There is a certain serenity about it that I enjoy basking in. That said, Britetalk is all about self-empowerment. If you want to live a happy, passionate and peaceful life, this is the blog to follow.

Prolific Living: Farnoosh runs a very lively blog that I enjoy reading. I feel it is her warm and friendly nature and her exuberance that keeps me going back. Also, it is great fun to add to the conversation on just about anything under the sun. Leave thoughtful comments and get long and lengthy replies from her. I think she is the chattiest blogger I know so far haha!

Art of Chris: If you have followed my blog for some time, you would have seen many of Chris’ pictures. I cannot help myself. The guy is simply inspirational to look at. I am not sure if it is from his jumping around, but if a picture paints a thousand words, then Chris says a lot with his pictures. Just looking at the way he does his death defying feats nourishes my soul and reminds me of the possibilities in life.

Inspiration by Chris O’Neill

Taking Action

When it comes to self-nourishment, it is better to start early. Be aware of the way you nourish yourself and make the changes that is best for you. Time and tide wait for no man or woman and in the meantime, the damage is accumulating. Begin now if you can, but do not put it off any longer. Your life is in your hands.

How do you nourish yourself? Are there any changes that you need to make? What other ways can you think of to ensure that we get proper nourishment? Do you have any recommendations? Do share your thoughts and comments below. :)

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  17 Responses to “The Art of Proper Nourishment”

  1. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Sandra Lee, Irving. Irving said: The Art of Proper Nourishment. http://tinyurl.com/4atkvnr [...]

  2. Do you really feel awful after watching a sad movie? Have you considered you maybe just don’t like sad movies? ;) I for myself love them and feel terrific after them! Maybe sad – but terrific! :) Why else wouldn’t I watch “The Sixth Sense” for the 8th time?
    But hey, I also make sad music, so it would be strange if I’d argue against sadness, wouldn’t it?

    I can recommend this article:

    I think the best way to enjoy negative feelings (and yes I do enjoy them very much!) is to fully accept them and let them go (that means you have to feel them!). That way they don’t get stuck in us and they become an experience like a movie: entertaining but not threatening.
    alice hive recently posted..3 Life Changing Blogs About Personal GrowthMy Profile

    • Hi Alice,

      Actually I do like sad and heavy stuff because they make me think. I never do things I don’t like unless I have a good reason. The only time I feel awful is when there is an overexposure to heavy stuff. All of us have certain thresholds that can fluctuate based on the stress we have in life. On days when we are feeling blue or overwhelmed, it may not be the best idea to indulge in sad movies unless we are looking for release of sorts through a good cry.

      I agree with you that the best way to deal with negative feelings is to accept them and let them go. This too has been my personal experience. However, we have to bear the context in mind. Certain remedies are useful for certain contexts and may not be so effective in another context. Empathy comes naturally to me. Some days I can let go without any problems. Other days it may be better to switch my focus. Balance and knowing how to go with the flow is the key.

      Thank you for the link and your comments! Steve Pavlina does provide valuable insights. :)

  3. Still reading but “chattiest” blogger huh, not sure how to take that, my Vizier? ;)
    Oh and do you know you have show cased my most favorite statue in Paris – that is from the Luxembourg gardens, that figure of the man crying. I *LOVE* that statue!
    Farnoosh recently posted..Someday I Will Go Back to IranMy Profile

  4. Great post, Irving. Listen, I am not sure I have said this much but nourishment of the body and the soul is so important, it’s not even funny. If I don’t eat one single meal, I am miserable for a day! That is how much I have fine-tuned my body – although I have also built it to be so strong that it can digest less than optimal foods and burn them but still, I think it’s the best reminder not to ever take our nourishment lightly…..!
    Farnoosh recently posted..Someday I Will Go Back to IranMy Profile

    • Hi Farnoosh,

      I meant chattiest blogger in a good way. ;)

      Hmm that is a coincidence then. I did not know that was a statue from the Luxumbourg gardens. I merely thought it would be a good picture to illustrate my point. It is indeed a small world. :D

      Yeah nourishment can never be taken lightly whether it is body, mind or soul. I am impressed that you have managed to fine tune your body to such an extent. It is not often that I meet someone with such control over their bodies.

      Thank you for your comments! :)

  5. Irving,

    This is a deep and thought provoking post. Chinese medicine takes into account that we need to not only digest our food but also all our thoughts and all the stimuli around us. These are interconnected. When we think too much or expose ourselves to an overwhelming amount or negative stimuli, it can effect our digestion.

    As you are saying, it is very important to be cognizant of how we nourish our mind. Not only because it will effect our mental and emotional state and whole outlook on life, but because it has the potential to adversely effect our physical digestion too.

    My own health challenges lead me to consider nourishment as an important topic for self-reflection. I’m very grateful that you have raised this idea because our world is so overloaded with stimuli and it’s not easy to digest it all.

    Thank you for your kind words about my blog. I really enjoy writing, reflecting, and sharing. I hope my words help others in some small way.
    Sandra I Always Well Within recently posted..5 Lessons Learned from 30 Days of Love and AppreciationMy Profile

    • Hi Sandra,

      I have always enjoyed the holistic approach of Chinese to all things. I admit I know next to nothing Chinese medicine though, although I do have some familiarity with the five elements and the way they react to each other.

      Yes, the implications of nourishment are far deeper than what I have shared in my article and you have expanded nicely on my points. If we do not nourish our minds properly, it will affect other areas of our lives including our physical digestion too. I remember how I had little appetite when I used to feel depressed.

      I would be happy to read an article by you on nourishment. I am sure you will have lots of deep insights to share. As you say, the world is overloaded with stimuli and not all of them are beneficial. Knowing how to manage them and to separate the beneficial from the harmful is always something to think deeply about.

      I am sure that many of us can learn from your gentle wisdom from your blog. Your words have made a difference to me.

      Thank you for your comments! :)

  6. It’s very important that we be aware of what we are doing to our bodies on a daily basis. Are we eating too much, too little? The right vitamins, the wrong textures? So much to think about, but its all very important.

    What we eat affects our whole outlook on life, as it can alter our mood, it can alter our energy levels, and it can alter our physical shape. If we aren’t in the mood, we won’t get things done; this is reason enough to watch what we eat.

    Great read Irving :-)
    Stuart recently posted..The Lion By The RiverMy Profile

    • Hi Stuart,

      I am glad you enjoyed my article. Yes it is very true, how we nourish our bodies on a daily basis can have a significant impact on our lives. Eat right and we will have energy to see our work through. With exercise we will also lead healthy lives. Eat badly and it will only lead to complications in the short or long term.

      Thank you for your comments! :)

  7. Hi Irving,

    You make thought-provoking comparisons between feeding our bodies and feeding our minds.

    It’s true that we can get caught in a vicious circle of negative emotions that is hard to break. There is a certain comfort that comes from wallowing in our own melancholy.. and misery loves company :-(

    You say that: “you have to take control and make an effort to nourish yourself in a beneficial way”. This is such a liberating fact – that we don’t need to be trapped with negativity, but we CAN take positive action .

    PS Cute squirrel!
    Scott McIntyre | Vivid Ways recently posted..Don’t Let Low Expectations Destroy Your High Hopes and Big DreamsMy Profile

    • Hi Scott,

      Yeah I know how misery loves company. Been there, done that. Instead of feeding the vicious cycle, we can break it if we find nourishment that lifts us up and not bring us down.

      I love the squirrel! :D I don’t think I could have found a better picture for this post.

      Thank you for your comments! :)

  8. Irving,
    What a terrific post! Yes, we need to feed our minds the best nourishment out there. Stop noshing on junk thoughts and put in great thoughts that will have great results.
    Angela Artemis recently posted..Intuition- Meditation &amp Creativity- Luscious Links from A Tribal MinxMy Profile

    • Hi Angela,

      When it comes to nourishment, I love the links on great articles that you put together on your website from time to time. They are a great source of knowledge which I always enjoy reading.

      Thank you for your comments! :)

  9. Hi Irving,
    A wonderful, wonderful post. Having a healthy, positive outlook is nourishing. Like exercising and eating ealthy, it really is a lifestyle change. For years I sat in negativity and pessimism. The majority of my thoughts, wishes, goals were negative. Once in awhile I tried something positive like yoga or walking, but my thoughts turned dark and I gave it up. I was around negative people and that didn’t help. Nourishing our spirits requires a concious change from dark to light. And you’re right it’s not about living in a bubble, it’s about giving ourselves the gift of positivity. I wish I had learned that years ago when I was struggling so badly, but I’m glad I’m on that journey now and I’m glad you’re there with me Irving! Thanks so much!
    Dandy recently posted..The tragedy of self-deception and the gift of honestyMy Profile

    • Hi Dandy,

      I understand what you went through because I went through the exact same thing. It was a dark pit that was rather hard to climb out of. The only difference is that I never tried yoga or walking. ;) Even so, the experience was necessary to make us stronger and better. We are after all wiser because of our experiences. I too am glad for your positive support on our journey to fulfillment! :)

      Thank you for your comments! :)

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