The New Year has become an important time for me in my Edmonton life. It goes back to the end of 2010. I was in Vancouver and felt especially alone. It was my first full year separated. There had been a lot of transition. No denying it, it had been hard.
I was lamenting this in late December to a group that I was part of that came together weekly for an hour by phone to support each other in personal and spiritual growth. Our leader Sue Dumais suggested I make a list of successes from the past year. I couldn’t see any harm. And I didn’t want to stay stuck or gloomy. So I trusted her. I decided on and committed to writing down 100 successes from 2010.
I ponder the concept of solipsism. It is the philosophical contention that only my existence is real. I’ve come to the conclusion that psychologically solipsism is the position that only my existence is trustworthy. Enter food.
At the beginning of this year, I committed to blog 100 times in 2016. That is an average of roughly twice a week with a couple of weeks off for good behaviour (or vacation or sickness). Here it is January 11th and only one post to date. Hmmm. I am a little bit behind schedule.
I can tell you that it is not a shortage of things to say. My mind is constantly whirling with one of two things. To start, ideas about how my relationship to food is a mirror/substitute in my life for my life. This is important to explore and discuss because I constantly hear how my experience is representative of many other women’s relationship to food, and because I am convinced that it has so much to do with our situation as women in this still patriarchal Western world. What I mean is “internalized oppression:” that is both about how we have internalized the social-political limitations of yore as negative self-talk about our appearance, especially about our bodies, that continues to limit us, and how we use gossip and criticism of other women–again about appearance and body–to police and confine them so that they don’t have lives bigger than ours. (Yes, there is a fuller blog post in there sometime soon).
I have decided to commit myself to something radical in 2016. Something radical because I want something radical in return. Liberation. I am going to blog this year about my challenging relationship to food. That is not easy for me to say.
Things happened in our past where we felt like we would not survive our feelings. So we chose to go away from the present moment by eating. Years and years of this habit make it into a truth that we don’t question.
What if the simplest thing made the greatest difference?
On what I believe to be a path of revolutionary proportions, I am often asked to explain how the relationship to food and exploring eating can be a transformative spiritual experience of immense insight and empowerment. In what I have seen, it brings you directly into contact with the emotions that are thwarting your thriving. It cuts deeper and faster than any other approach I know. With this in mind, I share a written exchange I recently had with one of my regular participants after the weekly “Daring and Sharing” call that I lead.
Even though you said it twice on last night’s call, I still completely missed what I sense was the most important part of the call for me. It was right after your saying that when you fight the bad feelings it solidifies them. It was something about accepting them. Something like “it’s in the moment of acceptance that we………”
If you could please clarify, thanks!
Do you have dreams for yourself? Do you know who you are meant to be but can’t seem to get there? How you eat can be a perfect way to see how you stop yourself from reaching your potential.
When facing challenges around mindful eating, an insight that often emerges for people is the spiritual nature of the process of exploring physical hunger and eating. When we mediate our self-worth through the size of our body or through conformity to certain eating expectations that don’t relate to our distinct and unique needs, we are distorting and diminishing ourselves. Adding insult to injury: the truly sad part is that we are doing it to ourselves. The intuitive eating guidelines–eat when you’re physically hungry, eat what your body wants you to eat, and stop as soon as the hunger goes away–call upon us to distinguish physical hunger from all the other hungers we have, and then lovingly, thoughtfully and attentively nourish all of them individually. Many of us use food to feed spiritual hungers, and then cannot figure out why it is hard to stop eating what we don’t really want to eat or when we don’t want to eat. But by feeding our physical hunger and only our physical hunger with food, we show up for ourselves. It gives us grounding that allows us both to weather what is difficult without being overcome and the sustenance to reach out in our aspirations.
Mindfulness is often taught as though it were a glorified version of an executive stress ball. But that actually undervalues what mindfulness really is and its true potential. It’s more like the large Hadron collider in that it is a real tool for making some fundamental discoveries about the nature of the mind. One of these discoveries is that the sense of self we all carry around from day to day is an illusion. Most of us spend every moment of our waking lives thinking without knowing that we’re thinking: a kind of scrim thrown over the present moment through which we view everything. And it’s distorting of our lives. It’s distorting of our emotions. It engineers our unhappiness in every moment because most of what we think is quite unpleasant. We’re judging ourselves; we judging we’re judging others. We’re worrying about the future; we’re regretting the past. We’re at war with our experience in subtle or coarse ways. Meditation is a tool for cutting through that.