What Feeds Your Soul? To remember what we have forgotten
Updated: Aug 1, 2019
I've been asking myself, "What feeds my soul?" Some of my personal answers: opening my heart which makes connections with others, playing my flute, laughing, forgiving, guiding others to their hearts, being in nature, drumming, being in authentic ritual and ceremony ... And in the asking, a deeper question has arisen, That question is "What do I actually feed myself.?" The answers to that are sometimes thoughts that disempowered me. Among these are: " I'm not good enough", "I don't have the -- time, money, energy..." righteousness, fear, watch T.V. eat sugar...
This reminds me of an old native story. A grandfather is speaking to his grandson. He says that everyday there is a battle in his heart. There are two wolves fighting, one is greed, pettiness, mistrust, fear and hatred, while the other is kind, compassionate, giving, loving. The wide-eyed grandson asks, who wins? The grandfather's wise response, the one I feed.
The teaching of this story presented itself to me while on last summer's father & son canoe trip in Maine. We had made our camp on Lobster Lake for our annual layover day, which afforded us the down time most of us were yearning for. It was a cloudy day with intermittent showers, yet our spirits were hardly dampened. As I sat in camp surveying the vista around me, I saw fathers and sons engaged in a myriad of activities: fishing, practicing their paddling skills, skipping stones, beach combing along the shore. I thought to myself, after all the planning and preparations to bring this group on this great adventure, I had arrived! I was in the wilderness, a "definite" on my list of what feeds my soul. However, I noticed that I was feeding myself a message which went something like this-"Don't waste your precious time, do something! Everyone else is "doing", you must do something to make this experience worthwhile." Before reacting and following this corrupt internal message, I sat and listened some more. This time I heard a different message, "just sit on the land and be present to the beauty and peacefulness that surrounds you and is in you." It was this voice that I paid attention to, and in doing so, fed my soul! In my stillness, I was touched by the beauty and the feeling of incredible aliveness. My hunch is, this is what the writers, Buddhists, and psychologists call soul work, an enlightened moment, or the authentic self- the experience of being fully present, aware and in the moment. Although I did not catch a fish, or perfect a new paddling stroke, I took in so much joy with my son and the group, that each experience was, as one father put it-Awesome. I did however, come home with and inner groundedness that lives in me today. This was most apparent in my ability to connect with my feelings while speaking my truth. In other words, I've been more present in my relationships. This truly feeds my soul. Had I followed my first inclination, (which I all too often do) I would have missed a most precious opportunity. With awareness, I was able to choose what my soul desires and avoid the path of feeding the wrong wolf.
I presented a workshop at the Connecticut Men's Gathering, that used what I learned from listening to my inner voice this summer about the power and beauty of being in nature's presence. I was struck but not surprised that the men in the workshop had such difficulty slowing down enough to just Be" on the land without doing. As my friend and song writer Hal Lefferts wrote-
"It just might take a lot of singing and dancing to chase our demons away."
I now ask myself, "What feeds me?" My quest is to listen closely and honor my soul's need. The opportunity is first to be aware of both, what feeds my soul and what I'm actually feeding myself. As in the story of the two wolves, the one I choose makes all the difference.