The Introduction Flier
Do you have e-mail? Would you like to explore your eating in a truly loving and gentle way?
Hello. My name is Steven, and I teach people to love those parts of their lives in which they struggle to be conscious and loving. And this flier is an invitation to come join me and the several thousand others who will be doing exactly this with food and eating during the month of January 2001.
What exactly do I mean by "eating consciously?" Before giving you the practical details, let me first tell you how I came to be doing this in the first place.
Several months back, after an accidental self discovery, I began to explore the connection between how our bodies react to food and how conscious we are when we eat. Please know that prior to these explorations, I took as true the ideas that many of us take for granted; that we are what we eat, and that in order to be healthy and self loving that we each need to eat the "right" foods in the "right" quantities at the "right" times.
Of course, the problem here is that, although many loving and intelligent people have given us their "proof" that these ideas are true, even the most educated and dedicated of us still struggle to do all these experts suggest as far as food, weight, eating, and nutrition. Worse yet, even the most loving of these experts often contradict each other so profoundly that if you were to follow all their advice, you would literally starve to death in an effort to be healthy and eat "correctly."
So what is the truth? Let me start with what is self evident. If these diets and nutritional programs were truly the answer people claim them to be, wouldn't many of us have healed our self hate in and around eating by now? More important, wouldn't we be getting more gentle and flexible with ourselves with regard to food and weight instead of less gentle and more inflexible?
To be honest, these thoughts have bothered me for years, more so after my first experience with conscious eating. In essence, then, these thoughts and my initial experience with conscious eating were what led me to begin to explore, as the main factor, what has never been properly explored as far as our eating; very simply, the state of being we are in before, during, and after we eat.
What I have found is simply this: the more conscious we are in and around eating, the more our bodies know exactly how to handle whatever we put into them; in effect, that the more we can reclaim our natural ability to eat consciously, the more we will restore to our bodies access to this natural programming, the wonderful instructions we as infants all used to grow and explore life.
Now, before you mistake what I am saying to mean we need to "consciously" choose what we eat, how we eat, when we eat, and so on, know that I do not mean any of these things. I have already stated that these ideas must be at least partially false or we would all have gotten this eating thing in a much more loving place by now. What I mean by "conscious eating" then is simply being gentle observers of ourselves and others, before, during, and after eating.
How does eating consciously affect the people who practice it? I was and still am very curious about the full implications. In fact, this past November, I led Food Month I, a month long experience done entirely through e-mail, anonymously, and with great love. This consisted of a series of very simple daily assignments, each designed to restore some of peoples' ability to remain conscious in and around eating. People then shared back with me their thoughts and feelings and daily experiences. The result?
A significant number of people, including me, lost weight without dieting; in my case, I lost sixteen pounds. But what is so important here is not the weight loss. What is so important is that I was and still am eating whatever I want, when I want, and with more peace and self love than I ever remember having in my entire life. But was I trying to lose weight? No, not at all. This weight loss was simply one of the discoveries this first group of explorers helped each other to make.
Did everyone lose weight? No, not really. Some didn't want to. Some didn't need to. And some struggled to stay with the assignments, simple though they were. But enough of us did lose weight to make this a significant and meaningful discovery.
What else happened? Some of us experienced significant amounts of improved fitness, some so startling that we each struggled to share these things with each other. For instance, one woman, herself a fitness instructor for many years, told me a week or so into the month that she had taught two classes in a row and had felt more fit in the second class than she had in years yet she had done nothing which could account for this change in her other than Food Month. Another woman, just turned fifty nine, told me she had wondered why the free weights she had been lifting seemed to be too light all of a sudden. And another man told me he felt so much lighter he had got on the scale only to find he was still at the heaviest he had been in his life. Yet he still felt like he was more fit and "lighter" that he had felt in many years. And there were more examples.
More important than increased fitness and weight loss, though, is the fact that many people healed BLocks inside them as a direct result of examining their eating, BLocks which have been buried and hidden inside them since early childhood. How could this have happened? To be honest, I am still too overwhelmed by the implications of what I have seen to say for sure as of yet. And this is where Food Month II and all of you come in.
I need your help. I need your help in gathering more information as to how eating consciously or unconsciously changes the way our bodies handle food. Why? Because my guess about what has been happening to us all is that, when we each arrive on the planet, we eat consciously; meaning, when we each first arrive, we eat only what and as much as we want, nothing more. In other words, I believe we, as babies, ate consciously at birth. Me included.
Am I saying we, as infants, were conscious as to what constituted healthy food and what we needed to do to maintain a healthy body weight and fitness? Of course not. We didn't even have the words to think this way let alone the ability to carry it out. But even without this knowledge, we managed to grow pretty well, especially for the first few years. How is this possible? I believe because we were conscious while we ate. This would mean that as infants, our bodies knew exactly what to do with the food we ate; our bodies extracted the nutrients we needed to have, got rid of the toxins we needed to get rid of, and stored whatever nutrients we might need for later. And NO MORE. In other words, our bodies functioned fine back then despite the fact that we knew nothing about nutrition and physical fitness.
What happened to us, then, and how have most of us, me included, gotten so far off track with regard to eating? What I believe is that, we each have incurred injuries during times wherein we were either hungry, were eating, or were digesting food. No surprise really. Most of us have spent a good deal of time especially in our early childhood's on and around the great American injury stage; the dinner table. The result? We each have lost part of our access to the essentially perfect programming we arrived on the planet with, programming which could and would tell our bodies exactly how to deal with what we eat if only our bodies had access to it.
How exactly does our lack of access to this programming in and around eating affect us? Depending on how conscious (or unconscious) we are when we eat, sometimes our bodies extract the nutrients we need and sometimes our bodies eliminate them by mistake. And sometimes, our bodies store only what we need for later and sometimes they store too much. Worst of all, sometimes our bodies eliminate the toxins we ingest, and at other times, our bodies mistake these toxins for nutrients. And there is so much more I would like to tell you. But for now, though, let me just say this: I am but one person and a rather unusual person at that. Thus, the effects I and my small group of explorers have begun to recognize may not generalize to others. Perhaps these effects are happening to us more because of who we are rather than because of what I have discovered. Perhaps not though. Which would mean that the diets which health experts have been encouraging us to follow may turn out to be based largely on false ideas and premises, despite the fact that many of them involve a good deal of accurate information AND love. And the foods which people designate as the "bad" ones may turn out to be fine to eat if only we eat them in a conscious state and in quantities which do not, in and of themselves, induce shock.
Is there any evidence to support my hypothesis? Absolutely. In fact, a recent study at Pennsylvania State University found that three year olds eat only as much as they want regardless of how much food you put on their plates. Essentially most three years olds eat only as much as they want to eat. However, by the time these children are five, the more you put on their plates, the more they eat. The implications? By five, the average American child has lost the ability to self regulate with regard to food and eating. And this description; losing the ability to "self regulate," is this study's description, not mine.
So, what do we do now and where do we begin? You can begin by sending me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, asking me to include you in Food Month. I will then add your address to the anonymous list.
Will this cost you anything? Nothing at all, other than your time and effort for thirty one days. And quite honestly, I expect we will see many people experience genuine miracles during this month, especially after seeing what happened to the first group of explorers. Thus, you may be one of these.
As for the actual assignments, I will be sending the first assignments out to all those who have asked to join on or about December 31st. Over the course of the month, then, I will be sending each explorer the rest of the assignments along with daily encouragements and anonymous quotes from other explorers.
And as far as the writing part of these assignments, please, do not worry about your writing skills nor about the accuracy of what you observe. We will all be doing this together, including me, and none of us will be seen as an expert here. Thus, no one will be judged or examined, nor will anyone's replies be revealed in such a way as to reveal their identity. The only goal we will have this month will be to help each other to reclaim as much of our birth right to conscious eating as we possibly can.
Now, for those who worry a lot, please know that none of these assignments will require you to do anything other than to be watchful and to write down a few brief thoughts about what you see; nothing more. Thus, I will not be asking any of you to alter, in any way, what you eat, how you eat, what you weight, how much you exercise; nothing. I will only be asking you to journey with me toward reclaiming one of our most precious birth rights; the ability to eat consciously.
As for the assignments themselves, each of the five sets of assignments will have a theme. The first week's theme will be to be mindful of the experience of hurry in and around eating; the second will be to be mindful of the experience of eating in general and of how much of the time you are not present; the third will be to be mindful of how much of the four flavors (taste) you can and can not sense; the fourth will be to be mindful of how much of the temperature, texture, and color of what you eat you do and don't sense; and the fifth will be to write a brief summary of your experiences during the month.
What will I end up doing with what we find? At this point, I plan to, during the month of February, write up an overall summary of what we all, together, have helped each other to learn, and especially how much of our birthright; conscious eating; we have each recovered, if any. I, of course, also hope to see some of you experience literal miracles with regard to your eating. Even more, though, I especially hope to hear that you each have learned to love this part of yourselves and your lives a little more.
Finally, thank you very, very much for having the courage to examine yourselves in this way and for being willing to share this journey with me. I only pray that we, together, can and will make a difference, and that this month's journey will be an important step toward helping the world to again love themselves in and around eating.
For the transcripts of the first Food Month, click here.