My Year of Blogging Boldly, Part One: The Dude
Nearly two years ago, I came across a man’s picture on a dating profile that stopped me. He was attractive enough. And I liked what he had to say. But there was something about his eyes that caught me. They had depth. They looked like they had seen and understood pain. I think that made me feel safe.
I reached out to him at the time, sending a note. Unusual for me as I rarely make the first move with online dating. In fact, I put up barriers to make contact with me a challenge in a bid to weed out insincere people. But something about him captured me. Alas, he did not respond.
I hardly ever go on that website now. But did on a lark late one night a while back as stolen moment of distraction while I was getting through a pile of work. He too was online. I would have been prepared to leave it at just noticing his presence there except that I’d seen him a couple days before at a movie. That had got me wondering about him. So when I saw him on at the same time, I said hello and asked him about what he’d thought of the film.
He responded. We messaged. We connected. We wanted to meet. But circumstances prevented that from happening then as I was about to go away for a couple of weeks. I was on my way to Northern California—making a vacation around a weekend program I attend that time of year on mindful eating and personal growth led by the author of Women, Food and God, Geneen Roth.
Mindful eating is about aligning eating with physical hunger cues. For many of us, that is a lot easier said than done. Instead, we eat because we’re bored. We eat because we need a break. We eat because we’re tired. We eat because we’re lonely. We eat because we deserve a treat. We eat because it looks good. We eat because it will go bad otherwise and get thrown out. We eat because we’re supposed to. We eat to make those feeding us happy. Are those good reasons? That is a spiritual, existential question for those of us who decide to explore our emotional relationship to food.
Eating only when you’re hungry is to have trust in abundance, that there will be enough for you later. It is allowing yourself to be vulnerable in the world and to those around you. These stances call on ways of being that not all of us learned or experienced as safe as young ones—although often it is hard to know of such deficits until you stop using food as something other than physical nourishment.
So for people like us, you turn to food instead because it is yummy, reliable, warm and waiting. Making space for eating to be in relation to your body’s needs rather than your mind’s wants can bring up a lot of resistance in the form of beliefs, feelings and fear.
With Geneen Roth’s approach, we use mindfulness (meditation, heightened sense awareness, acceptance of reality, gratitude) to aid us in aligning our eating with our hunger cues. Then we engage with what comes up for us emotionally in the process. By the end of one of her events, food tastes amazing. Like really, unimaginably amazing. And you are so attuned to your hunger and the subtleties of what your body wants and does not want you to eat, it is like it becomes your friend, and there is nothing you want more than listen to it and to treat it well. With that you feel this sense of freedom I experience as ‘untetheredness,’ at the same time as an ironic, surprising sense of incredulity that food has ever been a problem.
The place you find yourself in at the end of a retreat is quite simply bliss. And you take this home with you. That is, until the world sets in, life’s stresses intrude, and any undealt with emotional reasons you eat make their presence felt again. Combined, they pull you away from your hunger and with that yourself. (That is the spiritual insight you come away with: ignoring or overriding your hunger is giving up on yourself and who you are meant to be in this world.) But each time you go on a retreat, the experience takes you a little deeper into yourself and the freedom lasts a little longer in your regular life. You realize that there is nothing more important than having such mindfulness and emotional awareness become a way of life. Why? Because you get that with commitment to them, when they become your spiritual practice, one day you will live in that freedom all the time. There is literally nothing like it. It is the nearest thing to heaven I’ve ever experienced. And I’m so close to a life like that, I can taste it.
For part two, follow this link