Nourishing Our Peace, Joy, and Well-being

Healthy Heart Diet. Photo created by Forth.

Nourishing Our Peace, Joy, and Well-being

Discussion date: Thu, Dec 15, 2022 at our weekly Thursday evening practice
Thursday Evening Online Program
December 15, 2022  7:00 to 8:30 pm Eastern time
followed by mindfulness trainings preparatory class 8:30 to 9:00 pm


Dear Still Water Friends,

This Thursday evening we will explore the Fifth Mindfulness Training, Nourishment and Healing:

Aware of the suffering caused by unmindful consumption, I am committed to cultivating good health, both physical and mental, for myself, my family, and my society by practicing mindful eating, drinking, and consuming. I will practice looking deeply into how I consume the Four Kinds of Nutriments, namely edible foods, sense impressions, volition, and consciousness. I am determined not to gamble, or to use alcohol, drugs, or any other products which contain toxins, such as certain websites, electronic games, TV programs, films, magazines, books, and conversations. I will practice coming back to the present moment to be in touch with the refreshing, healing and nourishing elements in me and around me, not letting regrets and sorrow drag me back into the past nor letting anxieties, fear, or craving pull me out of the present moment. I am determined not to try to cover up loneliness, anxiety, or other suffering by losing myself in consumption. I will contemplate interbeing and consume in a way that preserves peace, joy, and well-being in my body and consciousness, and in the body and consciousn and in the collectivve body and consciousness of my family, my society and the Earth. As I encounter the Fifth Mindfulness Training this week, I find myself contemplating the phrase about “looking deeply into how I consume the Four Kinds of Nutriments, namely edible foods, sense impressions, volition, and consciousness.” How aware am I of what is feeding my heart and my thoughts, as well as my physical body? What are the sources of nutriments that support my capacity to “be in touch with the refreshing, healing and nourishing elements in me and around me”?


These questions have been especially alive for me in recent times, when so much of our public discourse seems to be rooted in fear and divisiveness. Those energies are amplified in media and technology that originally were meant to increase our access to and understanding of one another. Yet increasingly, we find ourselves in fear-based echo chambers that promote the illusion of separateness as a desirable and even virtuous way of being. These influences are pervasive for youth, despite parental controls, and must be addressed as an element that is shaping the mental and physical health of our children. There are also renewed dangers to the civil rights and physical safety of communities dehumanized as the “other.”

Thich Nhat Hanh (Thay) guides us to become aware that we are nourished – physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually – by four nutriments. Edible food, which we actively take into the body by eating or drinking, is undoubtedly the nutriment familiar to most of us. Sensory impressions, the second nutriment, are consumed through the senses (sight, smell, hearing, taste, touch, and mind), including conversations and media. Volition is the third nutriment. It relates to our inner drive and the deep desires that motivate our being. The fourth nutriment is consciousness, the influences, ways of thinking, and values that we absorb from our families, communities, and society. Any of these nutriments can be healthy, neutral, or toxic.

Our practice with the Fifth Mindfulness Training encourages our awareness of these nutriments, our understanding of what nourishes the cravings that keep us separate and what nourishes our capacity for awakening. We can then shift our consumption toward that which “preserves peace, joy, and well-being” and away from that which is toxic for us. Thay writes in “Happiness in Every Breath”:

The more we consume, the more we bring in the toxins that feed our craving, anger, and ignorance. We need to do two things to return to mindful awareness. First, we can look deeply into the nutriment that is feeding our craving, examining the source. No animal or plant can survive without food. Our craving, just like our love or our suffering, also needs food to survive. If our craving refuses to go away, it’s because we keep feeding it daily. Once we have identified what feeds our craving, we can cut off this source of nutriment, and our craving will wither.

The second practice is mindful consumption. When we end our consumption of things that feed our craving, ignorance, and wrong perceptions, we can be nourished by the many wonderful things around us. Understanding and compassion are born. Joy in the present moment becomes possible. We have a chance to transform our own suffering.

Next Thursday evening, after our sitting meditation, we will explore our experiences, insights, and challenges with the Fifth Mindfulness Training beginning with these questions:

  • What are resources that support your healthy consumption of the Four Nutriments?
  • How do you recognize and work with nutriments that feed unwholesome energies?
  • Do you experience resistance in letting go of some nutriments that are not serving your well-being? Looking deeply, what might that resistance be telling you?

You are warmly invited to join us!

Lori Perine

The Fifth Mindfulness Training
From The Mindfulness Survival Kit: Five Essential Practices
by Thich Nhat Hanh

The Fifth Mindfulness Training is about mindful consumption and health. This includes the practice of dwelling happily and peacefully in the present moment. The Buddha has said that nothing can survive without food. This means that our health, our happiness, our love, our peace as well as our anger, depression, and despair need food to continue to survive. This is why we have to consume in a way that supports good health of body and mind.

In Buddhism, we talk of consuming four kinds of nutriment or food: edible food, sense impressions, volition, and consciousness. Most of us absorb many toxins because so many unhealthy and addictive things are being produced all the time, with the intention of creating more consumption. A lot of the sickness, violence, anger, and despair around us result from toxic consumption that leads to ill-being. Mindful consumption is a concrete path toward a more nourishing and healing society.

The first nutriment the Buddha talked about is edible food. Many of us eat unconsciously. We are rushing from one place to another, talking while we eat, or struggling to feed a family after a tiring day of work. Many of us get our food from a place, like the supermarket, that is very disconnected from the palace where our food is grown. Every time before we eat a piece of food, it’s good to practice looking deeply to see where that piece of food has come from. …

Sense impression is another kind of food we eat everyday. Sensory impressions are everything we take in through our senses: eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body, and mind. … .According to the Fifth Mindfulness Training we can see the computer as something we need to take great care in using. If we’re not careful we can become addicted to going on the Internet. In our tradition, when a monk or a num uses the Internet, she or he has to have another monk or nun alongside so that they don’t get sucked into toxic consumption. While many of us use computers for work and can’t apply this practice, we can make agreements in our homes and families about how we use digital media. …

Volition is the third source of nutriment. Volition is your aspiration, your deepest desire, what you want to do with your life. This is a very powerful source of energy that helps us to be alive. Yet many of us don’t take the time to sit down and identify our deepest desires. If your deepest desire in you is to help save our planet, this is good nourishing food. If your deepest desire is to help children to be better protected, to have better education, to have a better environment, that is good food. But if your deepest desire is to have more money, fame, power, and sensual pleasure, this is toxic food that leads to craving, attachment, overwork, taking what should go to others, and other forms of living without mindfulness. …

The fourth nutriment is consciousness. We have many good things in our consciousness like mindfulness, concentration, insight, love, compassion, and joy. If we know the practice of mindfulness, we may touch the seeds of joy, happiness, mindfulness, and wisdom in us so that they become wholesome, healthy energies; that is good consumption. … Our consciousness consumes our thoughts and feelings and the environments in which we spend time. We need to be aware of what we’re feeding our consciousness. Consciousness can consume the good things it contains, or it can consume the things that aren’t so good. …

The Fifth Mindfulness Training is about happiness. We consume because we want to be happy. But consumption is not true happiness. People consume in order to cover up their suffering. Many people pour themselves a glass of alcohol or open the refrigerator to take something to eat or drink in order to help them forget their suffering, their difficulties, their loneliness, or their weariness with life. This is something peculiar to our modern society.

Happiness is not something that we have to look for and find somewhere else. Returning to the present moment, we are in touch with the wonders of life inside and around us. With the help of our mindful breathing and mindful steps, we can produce happiness straightaway. When we have mindfulness, concentration, and insight we become very rich people who are able to produce much happiness for ourselves and others; we don’t need to run after anything anymore.

in: Dharma Topics
Discussion Date: Thu, Dec 15, 2022


This week
Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday
Sun, April 21

Columbia Sunday Evening Practice

Mon, April 22

Silver Spring Morning Meditation

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Tue, April 23

Takoma Park Morning Meditation

Tuesday Evening Gaithersburg Group

Wed, April 24

Silver Spring Morning Meditation

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Thu, April 25

Takoma Park Morning Meditation

Fri, April 26

Silver Spring Morning Meditation

Sat, April 27