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Week Two: Recovering the Four Tastes

My Encouragements


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Main Index

January 8:

Day 8:

January 9:

Day 9:

January 10:

Day 10. I just wanted to check in with all of you and to ask how you are doing.

And if you are as normal as I am, quite a few of you will have already felt many urges to do what most people do with New Years Resolutions; I'll try better next year.

If this has at all happened to you, please, reach inside yourselves and find the courage and gentle attention to try again. You have it in you. Each and every one of you. More important, you all certainly deserve what is there hidden in the process: to reclaim some of the wonderful ability you had in you when you first arrived on the planet; the ability to eat consciously.

I, myself, have had many such urges to quit, thoughts of just letting this month pass and that I could try harder next time. Fortunately, the Universe has other plans for me, as yesterday, when I visited my M.D. to discuss my recent blood tests and the impact of my doing conscious eating, I got yet another a boost which has put me back into the spirit of it all.

I should first tell you that my M.D. is an amazing man who has somehow found time to meditate twice a day now for more than twenty years; a fellow seeker of consciousness and of gentle attention and a genuinely real and gentle being. He is also as skeptical as the next bear, perhaps a bit more than that, and this, to me, is a sign of health and of wisdom.

Even so, he seemed genuinely stunned when he saw for himself how things had changed in my body. For instance, when he told me my blood pressure, which four months ago was normal for my age; fifty four; is now that of a young teenager, he was grinning and excited. But when he asked what I had been doing to account for this, and when I told him just conscious eating; that I had been unable to find the time to do any exercise at all, he was truly amazed.

A short time later and he was loveably mumbling to himself; still skeptical and yet excited with the possibilities. And as we walked out of his office, we discussed the possibility of doing a month on conscious eating for some of his practice.

I don't have to tell you how excited this all made me feel.

Still skeptical yourself? Please, honor your skepticism for as long as you need. It is healthy to have it. In fact, it may be my own skepticism is one of the main factors in my discoveries. In fact, I know it is.

If this is you then, please, do all you need to find out for yourself if you can also make these kinds of gains from conscious eating. And remember; my own Doctor tells me it is impossible for the changes in me to be accounted for from just conscious eating, yet, he, too, is beginning to see what he calls "the black and white."

Finally, please, please, please write and tell me how you are doing. I so value each and every response I get no matter how short and no matter how skeptical.

And on this, Day Ten, of what has been a very stressful and yet rewarding month so far, please remember to give yourselves as much gentle attention as you need. You deserve it.

God Bless,

Steven

January 11:

Day 11. And day three of what many find to be the hardest part of Food Month; reclaiming tastes. All I can say is, if you get a chance to read the first Food Month's transcripts for week two, you will find that a lot of people, including me, struggle to remain conscious of the taste of what we are eating. More important, though, you will find that the possible benefit is well worth this struggle.

Speaking of "consciousness," I wanted to briefly address this what this word means as it seems from many of your responses that what I mean by this word and what many of you see it to mean is often quite different.

As simply as I can put it, then, when most people report they were "conscious" of something, they mean they noticed "the activity part of the event," the act itself. Here, in Food Month, for instance, this equates to someone saying they were aware of "what and how much they ate."

This is what I call, "external consciousness"; being aware of your current actions and the props which exist in and around what you are doing in your here and now life experience.

This is not the main focus here. So when I refer here to being "conscious"; for instance, to eating "consciously," what I am referring to is what I call, "personal consciousness." In other words, the way I am using the word here, I mean it to refer to whether you, the person, have been conscious of your inner life in and around this particular activity or experience, in our case, in and around eating.

This difference, the difference between "external" consciousness and "personal" consciousness, is one of the main things which makes what we are trying to do here different. Why? Because most attempts people make to change things like their weight or the nutritional content of their eating focus almost entirely on becoming "externally" conscious; in other words, on becoming able to focus on and to "control' what is going on outside of us.

Does this help? Only in the sense that it is what I call, "damage control." Thus, yes, it often does temporarily help and most times, we can retain this "informational sense" of our outer lives. But does it help in the long run? Usually not. Why? Because the truth is, these attempts rarely if ever heal anything. Thus, although the intentions and efforts are sincere, what they really are is little more than using one's will to override our wounded inner lives.

My point. There are many aspects to being healthy in and around eating. Some of these involve choices as to what and how much we eat. Others have to do with how we exercise and so on. But while these things are all true, they neglect the most important factor of all which is also, not coincidentally, the greatest difference between your current state of health and your state of health in the first year of your life. What is this difference?: your state of personal consciousness.

In other words, as babies, we were all very, very conscious in the personal sense. And did we have to meditate twice a day to be this conscious? Of course not.

So when we ate, how consciously did we eat in the personal sense? Very consciously. And did we have to count how much we ate or avoid entirely those foods designated by many health professionals as the "bad" ones? Again, of course not.

This, then, is the focus here; to reclaim some of your "personal consciousness," the wonderful ability we each arrived on the planet with; the ability to be internally present during our life activities.

Hopefully, now, this clarification will help people to have a better sense of my goal here. And please, do not feel at all responsible if you did not have this sense. My journey is a constant awakening for me as to how rarely words communicate mine or anyone else's inner life. And how, if I focus on my personal consciousness rather than on evaluating my external life, that I will each day grow more able to love myself and those around me.

This is my personal goal.

And to all you brave explorers on this, day eleven, thank you for sharing this journey with me.

God Bless,

Steven

P.S. I have only today realized that I have, in all likelihood, been very unclear about what is one of the more important parts of all; the daily journaling. I do apologize. Thus, what I'd like is for each of you if you have not been doing this to begin to keep a daily journal of what you are experiencing. Equally important, I'd really appreciate it if you could share these journals with me, either by the week or daily if you like, in as much detail as you like.

Please know, nothing here is a "requirement." Do the best you can. I only know that those people who do journal seem to be the ones who gain the most.

January 12:

Day 12.

January 13:

Day 13. Saturday. And we are almost at the end of the second week. I hope you're still here, even if only to support the work of others. Please, hang in. We need you. And if you have yet to start or gave up along the way, please try again. Even a few days of conscious eating can make a permanent difference in your health and your love of life. More so, you deserve to enjoy eating once again in the way you did when you first arrived on the planet; with abandon and sheer gusto.

As for the suffering involved in learning to do this again, for some of you, the experiences people have been reporting, those in which they have painful parts of their lives emerge, may seem strange or too intense. Others of you may see these painful experiences as the whole point of what we have been doing this month, and you may even feel guilty for not having had them yourself. Still others may be comparing themselves to those I quote each day and may feel they are coming up short.

Please. Try to let go of these and any other judgments you may have, and please just try to gently notice what internally happens to you before, during, and after eating. And remember, reclaiming your ability to stay conscious in and around eating is the whole point of doing this month. Further, if you doubt you can do this and believe it is just too hard for you, please give yourself another chance. I know you can do this. How can I know? Believe me, it is no accident you are on this list, and if you are, you are meant to have a chance at this reacquiring this gift.

So how have people been doing? The following is a good example of the general impressions kind of reporting:

Steven: Just wanted to note some observations from last week (never did Food Month before). Last week I felt a lot of anger around food. Either angry at the food, or angry at myself for eating. I cried over a bagel last Tuesday morning. Felt anger that night and immediately went for pretzels, standing up eating out of the kitchen cabinets. Stopped myself pretty quickly, but this has opened up a whole can of worms around me and my anger. There's a lot of it, and it wants carbs!

After Tuesday, it's been like the Los Angeles freeways in my kitchen, hurry, hurry. Don't want to be angry at the food, don't want to stop feeding "it" whatever "it" is. Luckily I made some conscious choices today about what I will eat and it isn't bagels. I wonder if I will cry over oatmeal? For some reason I am so angry at eating. I don't want to eat at all. Had a lot of trauma around food - being forced to eat, having to make my own food too young, my mom having an eating disorder. I really don't "love" food, I like to control food. Except I think food controls me a lot.

I am trying to taste food that feel loving to me. Foods that are whole and I know are good for my body. I've had headaches for the last two days, and I've been moody around meals. I haven't wanted to sit down at lunch and eat, and dinners are still almost standing, but at least I'm applying my mind to the task a little each day.

Of course, this is great observing. Why? Because the focus is mainly on the person, not on what and how much she ate or didn't eat.

Yes, she does make some references to these things, and yes, she could be a bit more gentle with herself regarding her urges, but still, she is doing a great job observing and reporting her inner experiences.

Anyone else get angry that they have to do all this work in and around eating? Anyone else critical of what and how much they eat?

If so, do your best to give yourself the kind of attention you would give a young child who was struggling: gentle, loving, nurturing attention. More so, what has helped me and many others to give ourselves this kind gentle attention is to picture yourself as a young child eating. Go so far as to actually see the details in the room, the table and your plate, the windows and doors and others seated there with you. And whatever you see, please, be easy on yourselves.

As for the weekly journal type of reporting, the following is a good example:

1/1 - I quickly noticed upon actual review of my eating habits that an enormous amount of nervousness actually preceded or accompanied my search for food or snacks. I noticed nervous energy while chewing and an obsession with rushing to eat but for what reason, I don't know.

1/2 - Today, I realized just how much I seem to hurry through all of my meals. Sometimes I notice, if for only an instant, that I'm eating at an Olympic record pace. It takes all of my concentration to notice anything about the food beyond the general taste; there is no nuance or actual detail of enjoyment. I don't even completely chew, it's like an animal eating in the wild.

1/3 - I usually drink after my meals, not wanting to slow down the process of eating. Also, when I do drink, it's the entire glass of whatever it is in one shot. The only time that I drink with food is when I have a glass of wine and that is the only thing that slows me down to a more normal eating pace. I only drink wine when we go out.

1/4 - I notice no particular, tangible urgency in eating when we dine out other than nervousness about getting seated. In regard to the question about my food shopping habits, I am only motivated by the perceived taste of food and somewhat by its "comfort value" to me. My food shopping seems to be all impulse. That's what I noticed today about food in general to me, it's a comfort, I get anxious waiting for it and use it to combat stress and nervousness. It's like I eat to shield myself from something. I seem to be wearing what I've eaten for the same reason.

1/5 - I have no childhood memories per say when I eat but I do remember the restrictions my mother placed on my diet in terms of sweets and chocolate. She of course hid an ample supply of that for herself. I used to sleep over my friend's house a lot because his parents had no such rules. Back to today, after I eat, I find myself still wanting food even when feelings of fullness are taking hold. It feels like I just want to keep eating and I don't know why other than more taste.

1/6 - Again, there isn't as much of a sense of hurry to my eating as much as there's an unconsciousness about it. It's like part of me shuts off when I eat and when I'm done, I don't remember that much about what I ate or even eating in the first place. I am beginning though to see when I eat and have begun for no apparent reason to eat less and stop sooner. It's like I am shocked by my eating habits.

1/7 - I have begun to take notice of what it is I'm eating and even stopping before the meal is done because I'm full. Something is happening in me that's severely limiting the amount of food I eat but I must say I'm feeling like somebody who's trying to quit smoking. It's really making me moody and more nervous.

Here again, this person is doing a great job of observing and reporting her experiences.

Can these simple observations really help people to change; in effect, to actually heal their injuries in and around eating? The following is a really good example as this is a person who started late:

Hi Steven, I finally was able to read all of your emails about Food Month last night, and what a difference already. During the past 24 hours I have tuned in to my feelings before, during, and after I eat. I slowed down . . .there is actually a taste to savor in the food I eat when I take the time to enjoy it. When I felt anxious this evening, I stopped, prayed, and spent a silent moment before having my dinner. Thank you . . .

And thank you for joining us.

Any more people noticing changes. Here is another:

Yes, I too want to quit at times, but I know it has really helped. My main focus lately has been being conscious about my fullness and hungriness (word??- sounds cute). The other night, when I was eating dinner, I really felt like eating ice cream with fudge. Now let me tell you... if I was to eat this I would usually feel fat and gross (and I am not fat or gross). So, because of my conscious eating, I made a conscious decision to eat the ice cream (no, it was not a folding of will... I know what that is... and this wasn't that... it was a true comfortable conscious decision by my mind and my stomach). Oh yes, I was so full, but I was full consciously. It was like watching the gas gauge go up when filling gas, every single gallon. I was aware that I was getting fuller, and because I was aware, I was comfortable with being full. I didn't make just a decision to eat, I made a conscious decision to eat. Now this may not be good to eat such fattening food all the time, but when I am conscious, I know how much I am eating and I am the one (not my shock) that is doing the eating. Yes.

Can you see the self love this person is reclaiming here? Can you imagine toddlers being guilty because they ate ice cream with fudge or because they were full. Of course not. And when we were toddlers, how healthy were our bodies? Probably the healthiest we ever were.

Now, what about the recovering tastes thing; the focus of this week's assignments? The following are a few of the responses:

What I have noticed much of the time is that I "want" to eat when I feel at odds with myself or am in a state of indecision. It is not at all connected with belly hunger. Those times when I eat I am not tasting my food and the foods I want are crunchy and salty. this brings me a sense of comfort as I come out of shock.

and:

Dear Steve; It's been a crazy, busy week. But, here I am...

Taste? In regards to day 8: I am hypersensitive to taste and have come to consider it the root of my weight problem. I do not eat what I don't like, but oh man watch out if it Tastes good! Up until food month I- if I was in a private setting I would simply gorge, delighting in the joy of actually enjoying something. Then when there was no more I would feel like an absolute glutton. When eating out I would of course order foods to please my taste buds, then trying to be mindful of social decorum, eat my favorites first always wishing that the servings were larger. I spent Monday, reliving some of the more traumatic episodes from my childhood involving being punished for not eating what I didn't like. Having already done emergences involving these episodes, I was able to clearly deal with my feelings and did yet more healing in regards to taste.

Day 9-again having done this in Nov. and having done an emergence on sweetness just last week, I used yesterday as a "refresher" on dealing with my sweet cravings. The interesting thing was that while trying to focus on sweetness I found myself noticing the saltiness of foods!? Which leads me to

Day 10- As a child salt was the enemy of my father's heart problem and was therefore banished from the house. I hadn't used salt in over 30 years and could taste it's presence in the sweetest sweet. In the past two months I have been finding myself almost compelled to add even the smallest amount to my cooking and yesterday realized that I actually enjoy the taste!

Here is a good example of one of the goals here in Food Month: to reclaim the healthy, guilt free love of eating we all arrived on the planet with. The healing in this case?: recovering a love of the taste of salt.

Is such a thing important? Well, if there are only four actual types of taste sensors in our bodies and if the one recovered is one of the main ones, well, yes, this recover is very important. Why? Because people who have an impaired ability to consciously taste saltiness often overeat or under eat salty foods. They also tend to eat more food so as to satisfy their desire for this particular taste.

In other words, there is a clear correlation between one's ability to be conscious of the taste of what you are eating and how much you eat, with the amount you eat generally going down as your ability to consciously taste increases. Translation: the more you enjoy the taste of what you eat, the more satisfied you will be and so, the less food you will need to feel satisfied.

Please note that the consciousness I am referring to here goes on throughout a meal and is not just a passing, mental note sense of the taste of what you have eaten. Personal consciousness is an ongoing, here and now thing. Thus, if you have been personally conscious of the taste of your food during a meal, you will be able to recall, meaning, internally picture, eating most of this food.

Here, then, is one of the best gauges for measuring one's degree of personal consciousness: to what degree can you, in hind sight, internally recall the activity you were observing and by "recall" I mean, how much of it can you internally "picture."

This, in fact, is something you may want to try. Try recalling your last meal. You can start by trying to picture yourself at the start of the meal. Where were you and what did the stage look like?

Now try to see how much of the experience you can actually recall; how many bites, swallows, tastes, etc.

Is this hard to do? You bet. And no normal being, at least no one I know, is able to recall anything beyond a brief few instants of these events.

Fortunately, even recovering the slightest degree of this recall will have a positive effect on your health and on your ability for self love.

Want a little more proof? I received the following response this week. Notice how this person's consciousness in and around eating has generalized in a remarkable way to other areas in her life:

Hi Steven, Thanks for the personal reply and the group reply about "consciousness." Not sure it's relevant to me or anyone else, but being conscious of EVERYTHING I put into my mouth for 10 days seems to have lifted my spirits immeasurably. Instead of waking up in the morning groggy, I wake up perky -- and this change after 4 days of an upper respiratory infection that knocked me down physically midway through the 10 days!! Even with honey and a shot of Rock and Rye to stop my hacking cough and allow me to sleep, the flavors of the various teas I tried each came clearly through to my taste buds. Everything INSIDE me felt soothed and calm. Amid the freezing weather and piles of iced snow here I'm feeling quite a sense of warmth and well being. (and they say that winter causes depression in many!!)

I've also, quite unexpectedly, found myself regularly communicating by e-mail with one of my sisters, who lives thousands of miles away. Our relationship became strained some years ago when our family "took sides" over our younger sister's divorce. Within the past few days, this sister has openly communicated about many of her feelings over the long past matter. I found myself being much more rational, understanding, honest, and kind in my responses. She and I are now laughing about our "free" therapy and have regained genuine warmth between us.

So, with the events of the past 10, now 11, days of emergence, my skepticism about this project is rapidly changing and I'm now glad I decided to continue participating. Thanks for your patience and tolerance with my initial hostile contact with you. Thanks for "loving" me when I wasn't as kind to you.

Warmest regards,

****

Experiences like these are what motivate me to keep trying even in the face of what is at times, pretty harsh skepticism.

The cure: gentle attention.

God Bless you all,

Steven

January 14:

Day 14.


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