We Are How We Eat
In Chinese Medicine, the function of digestion is part of the overall function of the Earth element. The organs associated with the Earth element are the spleen and stomach. I am going to narrow the focus down to just the spleen.
The Spleen in Chinese Medicine
The spleen governs digestion, of both food and thought. Digesting food and “digesting” thoughts are not separate from an energetic point of view. From this perspective, the same energy is used for digesting food as it is to “digest” our thoughts.
For instance, when we are stuck on a point, over-thinking and worrying about a certain topic for days on end, we may notice a loss or increase in appetite, abdominal cramping, bloating, perhaps even diarrhea or constipation. This is an example of how out-of-balance mind energy directly affects the physical organs of digestion. Too much thinking depletes the available “digesting energy,” thus our physical digestion is affected. This can work in the opposite direction as well, over-eating can lead to a fuzzy, tired mind.
What does balance look like?
It looks like taking time to relax the mind while we eat, to allow all the digestive energy to be focused on the physical action of eating and digesting. By eating in a calm and peaceful manner, we will have better digestion and absorption. Good digestion results in a fully nourished body and mind.
In practice, this translates as taking a few breaths before eating, eating in a calm and peaceful environment, and taking time to really enjoy what is being eaten. Business meetings, emotional conversations, planning sessions, studying, etc. should all happen separately from meals.
By separating active, mental, energy engagements from our meals, we focus the energy of digestion in one direction at a time. This supports the function of our minds or of the digestive organs.
Regardless of what we eat, how we eat has an enormous impact on our digestion.