In Intuitive Eating, we speak a lot about physical hunger, the one that can only be fed with adequate food that is personally satisfying to you. The counterpoint to physical hunger is emotional hunger, or what Jan Chozen Bays calls heart hunger. But while we carefully examine physical fullness, we rarely speak of emotional fullness – what it looks and feels like to have a full heart (which is obviously not separate from the mind and body).
If emotional hunger is the desire for comfort, soothing, and pleasure, then what specifically does it look and feel like to have those needs fed? As is often the case with mindfulness practices, the senses hold a lot of the answers to this question.
What are you seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, and touching when you feel emotionally full, when needs are met, when you are at peace? To give an example of this exploration, here is what it looks like for me:
Eyes: the apartment is relatively organized without a lot of clutter, there is a balance between feeling “lived in” and orderly, my people are enjoying the space and one another, there are a lot of books, I’m learning something new, there must be a cat
Nose: a cup of Peet’s coffee was probably already enjoyed, perhaps I smell clean laundry or the rosemary kitchen soap, I don’t smell cat poo 🙂
Ears: no loud noises, the hum of the city without honking FDR traffic, my partner playing the piano, my son singing or humming, perhaps listening to Aimee Mann or Brandi Carlile on amazon music
Mouth: there are good things to eat, most of them are simply seasoned with olive oil and salt, many are vegetables, there is always pasta, brownies are a house staple, my palate feels cared for and responded to
Skin/Feeling: I have moved my body – yoga or pilates, I’m in relationship with my pain – not numbing or medicating it if possible, I am rested, the temperature is moderate and ideally the windows are open, I feel connected to my sexuality and sensuality
Beyond: my people are healthy and caring for themselves, I feel understood and supported by my partner, my son is thriving, I feel satisfaction with my work, I have some access to nature, even if it’s only Central Park or the East River
This is not an exhaustive list but it has helped me develop gratitude for when I experience any of the things that give me a sense of emotional fullness.
Now it’s your turn. What does emotional fullness feel like for you?