Soup & Salad

The idea of soup and salad is metaphorically ambiguous.

What has come up for you in the past when someone offers you the words soup and salad?

Let me guess, “No thanks, I just want to get to my main course if you don’t mind.” There is something more to explore here.

I want to express that your daily health and wellness practice is as necessary as eating a salad before diving head first into your main course. I’m suggesting we get the proper nutrition needed without filling up on the richness of our chosen meal that will inevitably leave us feeling bloated and ashamed that we ate so much for pleasure and not for the health of the body. It seems we are hardwired to skip the things we know are good for us.

The main course represents a daily dose of what famous ring announcer Michael Buffer announces as “the main event.” For many people, this main event might be work, digging into a promising career, or financial planning. It might be to study hard for school or to find a new mate and get into a relationship. It could mean creating, building, expanding, etc., etc. The point is that it is important to you.

Salad and soup are healthy choices that represent meditation and exercise, you know, the seemingly trite B.S. that’s usually passed over in order to get to the things we’d really like to consume.

We want to indulge in the activities that exert the least amount of energy and offer the most pleasure; the activities that give us the quick shot, snort, and toke of dopamine the brain craves. The problem is that over time the same activity leaves us feeling unfulfilled eventually festering into a sadness of what could have been (depression) or morph into worry about how unprepared we are for the unknown future (anxiety).

This problematic message originates from our heart pleading its case to our brain. The heart wisely lobbies to the pleasure centers of the brain pleading that if they reach a mutual understanding, achieving radical self-discovery and intrinsic rewards for every entity involved in the experience.

We inherently know this just as we are inherently aware that vegetables and yoga are healthy for us. Yet many of us ignore this insight due to our habits. Many of our habits work as the brain’s defense strategy to keep our entire being unconsciously numbed due to the pain and guilt felt from continuously ignoring our heartaches by doing “tasks”. Your brain may say it wants steak, though your heart begs for the meditation of a salad, the yoga that is soup.

Thankfully there is an antidote that exists that can be accessed any moment we are aware. The antidote is our awareness. Awareness allows us the mindful moments of self-reflection that inevitably guide us back onto the path we feel as righteous in our hearts and minds.

Think of meditation as our salad. An idea of a salad provides a variety of different experiences in a single sitting for the betterment of the body. The ego thinks otherwise. It communicates its displeasure with a nagging whisper, “This boring salad can’t feed our hunger! The very thought of sitting here for this is a waste of our precious time.” I hear my wellness-seeking clients saying this about meditation practice often.

Now, think of your exercise activity as the soup. Soup is more respected among peers and is accepted as being more than a salad. Soup’s higher purpose is to warm your body and fortify you with strength to go out into the elements with more courage. Though the problem arises that when no one is looking (typically around February) we decide to do anything else but the soup.

It is important to note that a nutritionally diverse salad and a hearty complex soup provide all the nutrition the body needs for sustained life and that the rest of what we take in is to feed our voracious appetites. Ingesting more fiber improves the density of our very own moral fiber.

The sustained practice of overindulgence with food, work, Netflix, Facebook, etc., leaves us feeling heavy, mentally dull, and physically lazy due to the amount of blood and energy used to digest our perceived need for more.

The silver lining is that this perceived need brought about the practice of fasting that has been evoked in a variety of different cultures for years in order to clear and purify the mind, body, and spirit. Heed this sage advice of fasting from time to time. Take a vacation from your damn appetites, life isn’t always a Carnival cruise, but a carnival none the less.

So be mindful before immediately digging into your main course of tasks each day. Take the time to fork your salad, spoon your hot soup, and you will find that you still achieve satiety of mind AND body thus nourishing your spirit.

Spencer Harber, M.A., RYT, MT