Rest to Digest

Rest to Digest

Full disclosure: I am a complete nerd about food- both as a method of healing and as a way to connect with others in the moment with delicious experiences. My personal education and professional training have allowed me to see the power that food has to be a help or a hindrance for our minds, bodies, and spirits. 

The concept of optimizing digestion for health is not a new one for most of us. In my practice, I emphasize that good digestion leads to more energy, better focus, and more balanced emotions. But, there is another way of looking at digestion that many of us don't think about and it is a perspective that I think many of us can benefit from considering in our daily routine.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), we look to optimize digestion of food for all the reasons listed above. But, TCM also emphasizes that digestion of experiences, information and emotions is just as important for energy, focus, and emotional health. So many times, we run through our days, learning and experiencing things that we never fully "digest" because we are moving so quickly from one activity or commitment to another. I liken it to eating a big Thanksgiving dinner and then an hour later going out and trying to run a 5k. It just doesn't let our food settle well. We feel heavy, tired and unable to focus on finishing the run. Imagine that information and experiences are food. When do you take time to digest? When do you allow yourself the time to integrate the information and experiences into your body and mind? For many of us, those moments for quiet digestion are far and few in between.

Digesting our day's events in this mindful way doesn't have to be a cognitive practice. It's not something that is helped by thinking more about it. In fact, digestion happens best when relaxed and focused on engaging in something pleasurable. Some ways to give yourself this time could be by creating artwork, meditating, taking a walk in nature, listening to music, reading or taking a drive through your favorite park. It is important that you aren't trying to multitask during this process. Just relax and let the body digest without answering text messages, listening to the news or reading emails.

Just like our body turns food into energy, we also turn information and experience into wisdom- when it is allowed to digest. Next time you are feeling fatigued, cloudy-minded or stressed, ask yourself, when was the last time you took the time to digest?