The awareness that something was missing in my life began in adolescence. But I did not know what it was I was lacking.
I grew up in a warm and modest family, with all of my basic human needs being lovingly met. But yet I felt as though something was missing.
As the years went on, I started searching more and more desperately, for something to make me feel complete. I searched in a number of different religions, in environmentalism, in social action movements, in mind-altering substances, in high-level academics, in relationships, and each provided me with some fascinating clues, but my soul was still craving more.
Food addictions developed along the way, but I did not understand that they were symptoms, metaphors, more and more drastic messages calling out to me. It was not until I began to learn in-depth about the ancient mystical wisdom in my own heritage and its guidelines for living life with the greatest pleasure possible that my soul began to feel nourished.
We hear about learning to listen to our bodies, which is excellent. We hear about becoming aware of when we are eating emotionally, and that’s helpful too. But what goes straight to the core of addictions is becoming aware of our souls and listening to them.
That addictions result from a spiritual craving, does not seem to be generally accepted, and yet it is the reason that resilience can manage, with great difficulty, to take place – even after years of abuse. Therapeutic intervention is often needed for spiritual nourishment to be able to be integrated into the soul if a person has experienced significant trauma. But it’s vital to recognize that the highest levels of the soul still remain pure because they are the only places within us where trauma isn’t able to reach.
When our true essence can receive the nourishment it needs, the most profound and joyful healing can emerge. It’s also helpful to know that we need to nourish our souls throughout each day, just as we need to nourish our physical bodies, in which our souls are housed, each day in order to thrive in life.
Addictions are widespread, and food addictions are the most common of all. Next time you feel like overeating, ask yourself this question, “Is it my body that is hungry – or my soul?” Then discover the abundance of greater and more lasting pleasures that were created for us to enjoy. That’s how our hungry souls can find the fulfilment we are genuinely craving.
Addictions develop to fill the gnawing emptiness inside, but what we desperately need is a lasting pleasure. That is the only thing that fills the void within.
To get a sense of the abundance of pleasures readily available to us, we can learn about the five rungs on The Pleasure Ladder. These correspond to the five levels in the human soul according to ancient mystical wisdom.
Many people remain stuck seeking the lowest level of pleasure – which is the physical type pleasures available to us in the world.
Addiction is an indication that a large number of people have become stuck on this rung.
People need/want more pleasure in their lives, it’s very easy to overeat, for instance, because food brings immediate satisfaction, and because we want the satisfaction to continue – we overeat. Recognizing that many other physical pleasures can be subbed in for food – like spending time in nature or dancing to great music – is freeing.
On the second line of The Pleasure Ladder is love. People don’t have to ever wait or long for love. They can bring the pleasure of love into their lives at any moment by calling or texting someone lonely or appreciating someone.
On the third rung on The Pleasure Ladder is meaning.
Engaging in meaningful pursuits that make a difference, brings an even greater level of pleasure into your life.
The fourth level of the ladder is creativity.
The fifth and strongest level of pleasure is transcendence – the experience of connecting with everyone and everything. It’s when the illusion of estrangement clearly dissolves.
Each level up the pleasure ladder brings more expansive realms of connection into our lives, moving us away from the feeling of isolation that leads to addictions, including food addictions. When we overeat, we are trying to fill inner emptiness by continuing to eat, which brings immediate, though fleeting pleasure. But the inner emptiness is a spiritual one, so no amount of food can fill it up.
Yo-yo dieting continues because people try to cease the overeating through a short-termed physical means, and trying a multitude of diets.
We have been trying to fix a spiritual deficit through physical means – which is impossible when it is only spiritual nourishment that hits the spot.
Bracha Goetz is the Harvard-educated author and has penned 38 books that help children’s souls shine. She is also the author of a candid memoir about her journey, overcoming food addictions spiritually and joyfully: Searching for God in the Garbage. All of her books can be found here: http://www.amazon.com/author/spiritualkidsbooks-brachagoetz