Heart hunger has always been one the most challenging of the 9 Hungers since I started practicing mindful eating, and it still is. What I have discovered is that Heart hunger, which is often about “not enough” or scarcity, is not only applicable to food but many other areas of my life as well.

Scarcity can lead to overdoing do everything

Scarcity mentality leads to overdoing everything

The feeling of not having enough, the fear of not eating enough, the need to store-up for the future is something that comes from my childhood. This is often referred to as scarcity mentality which is usually Heart hunger, but can also be Mind hunger. The fear of not having enough can still overtake me causing me to over eat, over spend, over work or over do if I do not stay alert to my internal signals that tell me I am headed that way.

Brené Brown defines scarcity very clearly when she writes about vulnerability in her book The Power of Vulnerability. We tend go to bed feeling we did not do enough and we wake up feeling we didn’t rest enough.

For me, this is applicable not just to food, but to work, relationships and even meditation. My mind says that if I do not go to meditate at the very same time every day, if I do not sit for a certain period of time, and if I do not write exactly two pages in my meditation journal afterwards . . . it’s not good enough. And what may happen as a consequence of this demand for perfection? It sets me up for failure.

Extremes – all or nothing – and scarcity are very intimately related. I have been working with these, mentally, since my first mindful eating training in 2014. However, it was this summer at Thich Nhat Hahn’s retreat that I started moving from theory to practice, from my head to my body.

During this retreat there were several clues that helped me with this work. Especially a sentence by one of the monks: Stop feeding, start caring. He mentioned this when he was explaining how he learned to deal with his fears and it resonated with me and the work I am doing.

Since then, I have started practicing this phrase, Stop feeding, start caring in three areas of my live. First, to stop ruminating about how things are supposed to be and start caring for what is. This translates into living life from my body instead of my head. Coming back home into my body. Another area, something I am trying to do each time I sit down to eat, is stop overfilling my plate in case the hunger wars are coming back (as my grandma always predicted), and start caring for what I am eating now and how I want to feel after this meal.

Over filling everything

Over filling everything

And lastly, my intention to stop filling up my calendar and life with meetings, things to do, pending lists, people to see, or jobs to add and start focusing, like in meditation, on one thing at a time and going deep into it. And maybe face the vertigo of an empty morning, or a weekend without work.

I realize my feeling of scarcity developed when I was a child.  At that point, overeating or over doing was the best way to feel safe, to gain love and to take care of myself. However, this is not the case anymore. Feeling stuffed or stressed does not help me take care of myself at this stage in my life.

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Freedom is letting go of fears

Beginning to see how conditioned thinking from my childhood became habituated reactions has allowed me to stop identifying with this feeling of scarcity and stop being part of the illusion. Understanding this is allowing me to work with and face my fears, and what is best, to let go of them.  Perhaps not all of the time, because I still catch myself in those illusions of fear and scarcity, but now when I do I understand and smile!  And I Stop feeding, start caring.

Can you identify areas of delusional scarcity in your daily life? Does it translate to your relationship to food as well?

Cuca Azinovic, Spain

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