The Seven Stones Blog

Overfed and Undernourished

By Jen Cohen

Nourishment_Hand Overfed and undernourished. This is such a good metaphor for the primary breakdown of our American culture. On a 2000 calorie per day diet, we eat food that is depleted of vital nutrients and mostly dead, over heated, over cooked, over preserved and therefore provides little or no actual nourishment. Starving in a sea of plenty.

On retreat this past week, I sat in silence; no distraction, little stimulation except for the chirping birds, the whir of the construction vehicles nearby or the lawn mower, the sounds of walking or sneezing or coughing and of course the sounds of my own mind chattering away. That was enough. Perfect in fact. Just the right amount of input for deep nourishment to be available for body mind and soul. At least for me.

As happens on retreat the mind can fixate on projects. I cleaned out my closet several times over in my mind and then when I got home I did it for real. I cleaned out at least half of what I own and when I looked, it was still, in truth, more than I wear. What is true is I wear a few things again and again, mostly newer things, things I have just purchased since they feel resonant with my current sense of self and comfort and body. The rest sits while I justify its presence: someone gave it to me. I ought to wear it since it cost good money. It’s pretty. But none of those persuasions work to make me where them and the clothes hang, over populating and making less visible what I might actually feel nourished by wearing.

Where are you living with too much?

  • Too much to do
  • Too much money
  • Too much noise
  • Too many books to read, workshops to attend
  • Too much to organize or sort

Notice: what would actually be enough – food, clothes, money, square footage, anything really – that would serve to truly nourish? What would happen if not only individuals, but organizations asked this same question?

One thought on “Overfed and Undernourished

  1. Hi Jen,

    Peter Drucker sometimes talks about the importance of “organized abandonment.” That phrase has stuck with me. It puts some ritual and structure around how to let things go. Given the name of your company, I’m sure you’re aware of the 7 stones ritual that Joseph Campbell describes from Esalen Institute. Similar idea of putting ritual around letting things go. Letting things go, even if they fail to nourish, can be a serious challenge.

    I’m curious about your clothes — did you donate them? How did you make peace with removing them from your closet?

    You raise an interesting question too of what is enough nourishment? In terms of food, is it the RDA? How much does that vary between people? What about in terms of “consumables” that are not so easy to measure: conscious experiences, knowledge, quality of life? I will explore this question further–a really valuable question to contemplate.



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *