Day 15: November 15
And the beginning of week three. The Week of Looking for What's Missing. Hopefully, this should be a little easier for everyone; noticing what is not visible rather than what is visible.
As for what people sent me regarding last week's taste assignments, here are a few examples:
Day 13 I definitely do dislike the bitter taste immensely. I find myself trying to avoid it all costs. When faced with something bitter, I usually try to wash the taste away by drinking some type of liquid. I have gotten physically ill from some bitter tasting things in the past.
Day 14 I have been trying very hard, but am unable to really isolate different tastes while I'm eating, unless I do them one by one. I think it's because I still have trouble really focusing in on what I'm eating and just eat unconsciously. What I've also noticed is that even if I do eat something with a strong taste, the minute I swallow, I have no recollection of what the taste was. Sometimes it's a good thing, when it's a nasty taste, but when it's something good, I really wish I could savor it after it's gone.
This person did a really good job of observing her inability to remember good tastes. Pretty good.
And here's another person's experience:
Well, Steve it is week 2 and I have had to deal with a very varied diet, one that offered much for the taste buds. First of all there was the AIRLINE "FOOD." How did this impact on me and the conscious eating? Well, there was not much to go on, save that I did become more aware of the actual taste, not just chewing away on those pretzels. They are salty to be sure. Then there was the dinners I attended while out with customers. Italian food with wine. Since I gave up drinking I notice a different level of taste, as it is not drowned by me having a glass of wine or a beer. I also noticed yet again that I did not eat as much as before, being comfortable with what I needed. Salt taste was more noticeable this week, The speed with which I am eating has also slowed way down, more careful chewing. Even if I am reading I notice a subtle creeping enjoyment of eating. I think I had lost that for a long time.
... I do experience pleasure with eating a small percentage of the time. There are times when I am in a "serene" state where I do so enjoy the taste of foods. This is what I experience sometimes with food: first the smell on its own can be fulfilling (lemon, basil, coffee, vanilla-- need I say more?) When I eat, I love all the different nuances and flavors, texture and smell. Food can be a totally sensual experience for me-- but only sometimes!! I now realize that those moments were brief glimpses of consciousness for me. Most of the time I guess I am numb/in shock and definitely not in that "good spot" as I like to call it. I'd like to try to raise my level of awareness so I can spend more time in that good spot.
Obviously, this is someone who has gained some skills regarding shock and consciousness.
And another person wrote;
Paying attention to taste seems to be the most fun part of this assignment yet. Sweet is definitely the best. I love it, I crave it, it soothes and calms me. I know I self medicate with it, I am sure many of us do. It is harder to pinpoint and be conscious of other flavors. More than paying attention to flavors, though, I think I have been giving more attention to the little details of how I eat. I have been noticing that I seem to put HUGE bites of food on my fork. I am trying to take smaller forkfuls. I also float in and out of awareness regarding my eating. This morning I noticed for a few seconds that my cereal was a bit soggier this morning than usual (maybe because I am eating it more slowly, although I doubt that). That was my consciousness, then I got absorbed in life and didn't really think about it anymore, is that enough conscious attention? I did come back for a moment later in the bowl of cereal and felt sad the meal was almost over. I feel so preoccupied with getting this whole concept. There is almost a bit of competition with other participants, I want to make sure I am one of the ones who "get it." Crazy huh? Anyway, in this moment, I am thoroughly enjoying a salad, perfectly blended with sweet, sour, crunchy and soft food. I am happy to be ABLE to eat it slowly as I type this e-mail. I am not so sure I would be eating slowly if I wasn't typing however.
People who try this hard really touch me.
And yet one more;
... about saltiness in general... when I feel the taste of salt most intensely, it is in my tears, not in my food... it's not as if I'm taking the salt in, it's more of a release... I have a very different feeling towards salt, like it is a necessity... sweets are a treat, an indulgence...
... I think in my experience, salt is a primary taste in a meal, sugar a primary taste in desert... I don't sense as much emotion connected to salt as with sweets... maybe, though as you suggested, for me there is no guilt about salt, where as for sugar there is guilt... guilt is such a tough feeling... I wonder how guilt helps us (if it does at all) evolve...
... What did you discover today? Today, I want to go to Tahiti, and forget about sourness... in a way, doing this is like going to therapy every day... I want to take today off... for me, that means it's important to go on...
... I think about how I was, and still am, in many ways torn "between" my parents... with the eating, my father would criticize me, and my mother would feed me comfort food...
What did you sense today? I'm feel totally inadequate, trying to feel 4 tastes at once... too
overwhelming for me... I can't walk and chew gum at the same time... I don't even like to drink anything but water with my lunch and dinner,
because I don't like too many tastes mixed together... today at work, I almost really messed up, trying to talk to someone while I was generating work orders... all because I can't do two things at once... but, I can focus, that's for sure... just on one thing at a time... I didn't even try to taste everything at once... I thought my taste buds would go into shock, disappear and never come back... when I read your morning e-mail, I got to thinking... as far as I can tell, my eating habits haven't changed... there I am, being hard on myself... and talk about lack of patience... but look at you, Steve... you have made friends with your hunger... me, I'm still literally going into my closet (a walk in... I didn't want you to get a vision of me stuffed standing up with clothes suffocating me... lol... ) to have cookies, so that **** doesn't see me... I hide the cookies, and leave a snack out for **** and **** after school, because if I leave the cookies in the cabinet they are gone in 2 days... I try to make **** think that I don't binge, but I do... he must be getting the vibes... what I say to myself is that he's overweight, and I'm not... but how can I expect him not to binge, when I do... I know I should just work on my own issues, first, knowing that if I stopped bingeing, somehow it would have a positive effect for him... then we come to the old patience issue... patience with myself... be gentle on myself, right?... OK... tante grazie, Stephano...
These are the e-mail's that break my heart. And push me to try harder to find the words which will help people to be gentle with themselves. Please, for anyone who is struggling like this, please hang in and please try to do it with love. And if you can't find it in yourself, please ask someone close to you to give this love to you until you can find it in yourself. Please.
Good luck with this third week and God Bless,
Day 16: November 16
Day 16 and we move into the second half of the month. In a way, I'm looking forward to December and the rest. Yet, this "roller coaster ride" has been really exciting for me, so I also want it to keep going.
And I may not be the only one who feels like this. Here's one person's recent response to me:
If there was a way to create these past two weeks into a roller coaster ride, I would patent it, build it, and then retire from all the money I made from everyone riding it and loving it! Monday morning something wonderful happened to me. I got up for work, 5:00 am, went to the bathroom, and then stepped on the scale. Try to picture my face when I saw I was 8 pounds lighter. Now for the amazing part - my menu for the past weekend (to the best of my recollection). Saturday morning - McDonald's sausage biscuit with egg and 3 hash browns, afternoon - a big plate of eggplant, bagel, hot dog, apple pie, dinner - turkey dinner, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, fried cauliflower, string beans, beats, chocolate chip cookies. Sunday morning - pancakes, kilbasi afternoon - turkey sandwich on bagel, more chocolate chip cookies (they were homemade), big Mac and French fries dinner - more turkey and cherry pie. NOW TRY TO PICTURE MY FACE WHEN I LOOKED AT THE SCALE!!!
The only thing I can think to say is THANK YOU! Monday night I was eating dinner (salad, fried calamari, and sausage and peppers) when I had another emergence! While I was eating the sausage and peppers the feeling of "hurry, eat this, you never know when you are going to have this again" emerged. Boy this hit me like a ton of bricks. I actually caught myself swallowing my food with only chewing it 2 or 3 times. I recall hearing very similar stories from your experience and the experience of others this month. I was able to become conscious and say to myself "this restaurant will always have this, I can come here at any time and order it, and they would be happy to make it for me! WHAT A FEELING! I also notice over the past week myself starting to feel my fullness much faster than usual and the feeling lasts longer too. There is only one thing I can attribute this to: FOOD MONTH! Thanks again ****
Is this whole food month thing crazy! Wow! Even I, myself, find it hard to believe some of the things people are telling me and yet I know, for instance, that this fellow is a good observer and is being dead honest. So what is going on?
Obviously, being conscious while you eat has a much greater effect on our bodies than anyone has previously recognized. If not, we would have long ago seen consciousness mentioned as the main ingredient of healthy diets, for instance. Further, even if people had known and written about this aspect of conscious eating, in all likelihood, their readers still would have struggled as they would have had to contend with the difficult task of discovering a personal sense of what consciousness is.
If you are one of these people, someone who is finding it tough to grasp the idea of "consciousness," let me now offer you some information which may help.
You can start with this. Question. Exactly how much time do you think I put into attempts to reclaim my ability to eat consciously each day? Answer. On a good day, I may actually put in a whole four or five minutes into it. That's it. And I may put a whole ten minutes into it on my most inspired day.
What I am trying to say here is, some people have told me they thought eating consciously meant being conscious of every bite you eat. No way! Why would anyone want to put that much effort into something which is supposed to be one of life's great enjoyments. Further, watching every bite would not only ruin the enjoyment, it would turn a meal into work; not exactly what I had in mind as far as teaching people to eat consciously.
So if this is true, how can it be that people can be experiencing such amazing results with just a few minutes a day. More important, how is it that others can be struggling so even with putting in great effort?
The only thing I can come up with is simply this. For the most part, consciousness is simply a measure of a person's internal ability to picture things. In other words, consciousness is directly related to a person's inner ability to picture life events.
Thus, for a person who can easily picture things, regaining one's consciousness is relatively easy, whereas for a person who struggles with internally picturing, reclaiming one's consciousness can be a bear at times.
Am I saying it is impossible for those who struggle to internally picture. No, not at all. After all, we were all born with an ability to eat consciously. More so, we used it big time for the first few years we were alive.
This means we all have years and years of experience with being conscious while we eat. So what makes it hard to get this consciousness back?
BLocks. And without going into a big theoretical discussion about what BLocks are, you can see BLocks as the places in your life in which you go blank even for an instant.
The good news is, these BLocks ARE the wound. This means simply noticing life situations wherein you can not picture internally; moments wherein you go blank for an instant, will reveal exactly where your wounds around eating are. They reveal exactly where you are BLocked.
Essentially, the search for these missing pieces is this week's whole theme; discovering the missing moments in your eating experiences. And you will find this search far easier than you would ever imagine if only you try to watch yourself through the loving eyes of parent who is watching a newborn eat.
How would you be watching? With gentle eyes. Patience. Concern. And love. These are the things we need give ourselves in order to set the stage for our healing experiences. No coincidence, these things are what is most often missing in our lives and what was most missing from our childhood's.
So what exactly happens in those moment in which we heal? All that happens is that these pieces of missing experience simply become visible to us. This is all healing is. In other words, in the instants in which we heal, these missing pieces "emerge" into our consciousness. And if, after just reading this, you were to now go back and read some of the responses people have sent me, looking for times in which people wrote about discovering these kinds of experiences, you would have a pretty good idea of what is causing people to have these seemingly impossible things happen.
In effect, all these people experienced each time was they reclaimed some small piece of what had been previously missing experience in and around eating. This is it. This is the whole goal of food month.
As for me and own missing experiences, my own struggles last week with recovering some of my ability to taste kind of floored (and humbled) me. Wow, was it hard for me. I found so much missing it kind of overwhelmed me. And it was hard for me to discover this, mainly because I usually have a pretty easy time identifying where I am and am not conscious. I had no idea, then, that I would find it so difficult to identify tastes.
So did anything emerge in me last week? Well, for one thing, when I drink coffee now, I can easily taste the bitterness of the coffee toward the back of my tongue and the sweetness of the creme with the tip of my tongue. And yesterday I identified this taste as being similar to the taste of my favorite sweet: bitter sweet chocolate.
Now, to some, a small detail such as this one might seem insignificant or trivial. However, consider this. One of the most common shock inducing experiences we can have during eating is to consume something too hot or too cold. Do this even for an instant and you will put the sensors in your mouth into shock. The result: you can easily over eat and not even be aware you are over eating. Translation: if you drink coffee which is too hot, it can put your mouth into shock, and you will tend to overeat at this meal. Why? Because you will have temporarily impaired your ability to sense food and eating.
In other words, if you are not conscious when you drink hot coffee, you will probably drink it too hot and or too fast and so, impair your ability to taste for one thing, and this will cause you to temporarily lose some of your ability to taste consciously. Further, to the degree you have lost your ability to taste, to that degree, you will have to eat more to get enough taste to satisfy yourself. Worse yet, you will also lose some of your natural ability to self regulate the eating process over all.
No coincidence, reclaiming a sense of the temperature of what you eat will be one of this week's pragmatic goals, and I, for one, am looking forward to what we all will discover this week.
And on this, day sixteen, I wish you all the best day you have had in years.
Day 17: November 17
How are you doing with this weeks assignments? Noticing anything missing?
I know already that some of you will find this weeks assignments easy while others will find them difficult. Please, if you are one of those who are finding them difficult, go slow and give yourself a chance. I've talked with a few people on this list who are only now beginning to get the gist of this whole thing, and with others who are still trying to get it. And some people are still trying and feel they are downright failing. God, this hurts my heart.
No child fails, even if they can not learn to do something. Fails means fails to be enough to be lovable. No child fails. And whom do you think we are tying to heal here? Answer. The wounded hurt scared little child in you. Please try to remember this and to be gentle with yourselves.
If you are one of those who is struggling, perhaps you would do better if you were to try a little harder not to judge what you find OR don't find. Just report whatever you find, no matter how seemingly insignificant in comparison to others. Please believe me; nothing you come up with is insignificant even if you can not yet see the meaning in it.
The following, while not an easy experience for this person, is a really good example of the kind of reporting I'm talking about:
The anxiety about not only my own eating but other people's eating as well feels out of control. I sit here at 12:30 P.M., wondering where my hunger is as it is lunchtime. I am almost disturbed that I am not hungry. I want to be hungry so I can eat lunch and be done with it. Almost like it is pending, a job I have to do, gotta eat lunch as I can cross it off my list. How can that be when I LOVE to eat and get tremendous pleasure from the whole experience.
Last night I sat with friends and watched a slim friend eat slowly. I was amazed at her lack of hurry. In fact, she was talking and eating, had a piece of food on her fork and kept talking. I was freaking out inside, "put the fucking food in your mouth" I wanted to scream.
I don't think I have ever let the food sit, on a fork none the less do it and continue talking. With me, it is ALWAYS eat first, then talk. The primary focus is always eating.
I feel sort of bummed out. When embarking on food month, I really didn't have weight loss in mind. Now however, I see people losing weight and I have not. It makes my anxiety grow stronger. I feel like saying I hate eating, but I don't. Right now, it feels like eating is the enemy. I know that does not make sense; it doesn't even make sense to me.
I like your analogy that we should nurture ourselves as we do infants, gently, lovingly. I will try and keep that in mind today, and hopefully tomorrow.
As you may have guessed already, I always admire this kind of courageous honesty. Very much. I also see it as inevitable this person will grow and gain from this month, even if it takes her the whole thirty days. Or longer.
And she did a great job of noticing what was missing; in her case, her hunger. More so, I would also bet a lot of you have felt similar things. Is eating a job for any of you? Do any of you get mad at thin friends or at friends who eat slow? Are you mad at the folks here who have lost weight? If so, please don't blame yourselves for these feelings. I certainly understand how you could feel these things. How? I have felt them too.
Here's another example of the kind of reporting which I am sure will lead to emerges in and around eating:
Well, as far as food week and my observations... I've noticed that I haven't been having as many scenes this week for some reason ... I also noticed that I go in and out of consciousness a lot during eating... but lately I've been trying to stay more aware... so I keep trying to bring myself back... one thing I noticed which I never realized before is that I constantly beat myself up over my food choices or the amount of food I eat... I have this dialogue that runs through my head ALL of the time... I knew it was there SOMETIMES but never realized that it's almost ALWAYS there when I'm alone... "I'm not going to eat today... I have to lose weight... let me think... what did I eat so far (and I review everything, over and over again)... I ate way too much yesterday or today... I shouldn't have eaten that roll, or that candy, or that MUCH... I HAVE TO LOSE WEIGHT!" and on and on and on it goes....
I don't have a problem with taste... when I'm eating consciously I can taste all the tastes and textures and temperature and everything just fine... but so many times I'm just not HERE! I'm in Never Never Land... way out there somewhere! Maybe so I don't have to deal with the constant self criticism!! :) I'm thinking that maybe the reason that I hurry up and eat quickly is to finish before the voice starts telling me how terrible I am or that I shouldn't eat this or that! Maybe the name of the game is... "Beat the Voice"? Maybe that's who I'm trying to spite when I feel like I'm eating spitefully...
Again, such courageous honesty. And the missing parts here: the lack of consciousness; the recognition's that the judgmental voices were constant.
Another thing which seems to be happening is that the food month assignments seem to be causing seemingly unrelated things to emerge in people. The following is one example:
So interesting. I noticed something interesting today while reading your stuff. At the end, I felt myself wanting to hurry up and finish... almost like I do when I feel myself overeating. This is interesting. All of a sudden, a scene emerged: I remember reading as a kid and just wanting to hurry and finish; I wasn't concerned about the comprehension- just finishing the pages. I'm not sure if this is related to the food experience, but it all seemed to come forward. It is great reading your stuff today. I hope that you have a beautiful and wonderful day. Oh, how the life can really be beautiful.
On the other hand, after some initial gains, some people are struggling not to fall back, and this is normal as well as where the real effort comes in. This happens not because you lose the gains you do make but rather because none of us has but one or two BLocks in and around eating. We all have many. Also, it is just human nature to want the war with food to be over and so, we get tired quickly as this month is just one more war to fight. I feel this way too. A lot of the time. But you don't need me to tell you this; that nothing worthwhile ever comes easy, at least it doesn't for me, especially with things as all ubiquitous as the wounds we all have in and around eating.
The following is someone who honestly shared about being in one of these difficult times.
Today I experienced some scary feelings. When I got up this morning I noticed myself more hungry than the mornings of the past 2 weeks. So on my way to work I stopped for a bagel and an orange drink. I remember trying to notice different tastes in the bagel and drink but I also remember feeling slightly scared. A couple of hours later I found I was hungry again. So I ate a breakfast sandwich and an orange juice. I happened to be with someone so the conversation we had took the focus off of my feelings. As the day progressed I found myself feeling like I was on a diet... judging my hunger, asking myself if I earned the right to eat something, I felt my mouth starting to water, I felt anxious, panic stricken, as I passed a lunch truck (like I didn't know the next time I was going to eat again). When I finally got home and ate dinner, I found myself going into shock as I started to eat. I focused on my food to the point I tuned everything out. I felt like a machine eating. My fork was full of food and halfway to my mouth before I swallowed the previous mouthful. I even noticed I put the second forkful into my mouth before I completely swallowed the previous bite. I swallow as I chew the next forkful. Very much in a hurry... like someone was going to steal it or I haven't eaten in a week.
God, I wish I had some magic answer here, but the truth is, this consciousness thing is working so well for me that I am sure it can not be just a fluke. At the same time, I know I have been doing emergence for over five years now and I just plain have more skills at this than the average bear at this point.
Still, I am not the only one who has made gains. Some of you have too. So if you can find it in you, please hang in and don't give up on the needy little being inside you. He or she deserves your best efforts.
One other thing which I keep having people tell me is hard is the fact that while I have repeatedly stated that the focus is on "conscious eating" and not weight loss, it seems it is just normal for many people to want the weight loss part as well. And while it is true some people have lost weight, some people have not. In fact, a part of my personal goal this month was to learn more about what does and does not help people in and around weight... but without ever putting the focus on it, because I believe the worry involved will impair your chances. Thus, my personal belief about this whole thing and my own experience after having done this for almost nine weeks now is that there are ups and downs, and there are times wherein you lose weight and times wherein you gain weight, and sometimes, these things happen for what seem to be no reasons at all.
Weight loss aside, one thing which does stand out for me though is that I feel more fit than I have in many, many years, and I feel this fitness without having done any significant exercise. Not none. But not a lot. This benefit alone has made my struggles this past nine weeks worthwhile.
I also know my body is handling the food I eat in a more conscious and therefore, healthy way now, and this health is also something I value greatly, especially as I am getting older.
If you are one of those who is thinking of quitting, however, or who is struggling terribly or confused by the widely varying response here, please hear me say this with a gentle voice: do whatever you feel is right for you. I will never judge you. Just know, should you ever want to begin to explore conscious eating again, I have posted (and will continue to post) everything we have done on my web site (under the Transcripts Section). Thus, should you ever wish to try again, it will be there for you for as long as you need it. And so will I.
As for me, my life has already changed in so many ways from doing conscious eating that I have no doubt I will continue on this path. And should any of you need my help, whether it be a question about consciousness or just a pat on the back, please write me without hesitation.
As for the weight lose thing, here is one response which is typical of the benefits I have been talking about;
I'm sending in my response to our second week late because I have been out of town. Being out of town and away from my routine made doing this work even more difficult. Even so, I was eating things I normally do not allow myself to eat, but I eat them without guilt... I guess this program has had some affect on me.
The taste thing was very interesting to me. I generally am very aware of taste. I love sweet things, sometimes I do feel guilty about eating them cause they are fattening, and sometimes I just eat them. Weird it depends on my state of mind. Salty is not my favorite taste, I tend to notice it right away I in food. I had Thai food one night and their they both were, sweet and salty. Actually, a great combo. As for bitter, I don't like it, unless it is mixed with other food.
Most of this week I rushed through my meals. I was at a workshop, and we hardly got time to eat lunch, and by the time we left, I was too tired to care about eating so just ate to eat. Then some terrible news about my sister came to me and I lost my appetite. I'm really working on this, Steve. I have noticed, like some of the other people, I do stop eating before I am to stuffed. To me that is a great breakthrough! I really wanted to reduce my weight which hasn't happened; Still, I am happy for the things I do notice changing. Thank you again.
And again, for one more day, please try to be gentle with yourself, this day even more than before.
Day 18: November 18
Day 18. My first theme today is texture. Yesterday, I ate lima beans for the first time in my life. Not many. About eight I think. But those who know me well will recognize this as an act of courage in that I have never even been able to get lima bean near my mouth without involuntarily gagging.
How did I come to be doing this? I bought a vegetable soup from my favorite deli, and the little monsters just showed up on my spoon.
Why did I decide to try to eat them? The texture thing. I wanted to actually try to live up to this weeks assignments by sensing the texture. And when I was actually able to do this without going into shock, I felt like I just accomplished something so powerful, I have no words.
Now, as an adult, how can I be attributing so much to such a seemingly insignificant life event? Because each and every difficulty with food interrelates with being able to eat consciously. Thus, each and every piece of conscious eating you reclaim will help you to eat all food more consciously.
Do I now want to eat lima beans? Well, to be honest, I feel like a year and a half year old baby who is eyeing a lima bean with cautious reserve. But this is a heck of an improvement over the involuntary physical illness I used to experience.
My second theme today is: what do you do with the scenes that emerge? This question has come up many times in peoples' responses. In fact, I received the following only yesterday:
I forgot to include two scenes that came to me. Did they come to me because something happened in those scenes, and if so, than what?
First scene, I was in my car eating a fig Newton. They didn't have the fat free kind so I bought the regular. At one particular moment of the chewing process I got this dejavu taste. At that moment I remembered eating a different type of fig Newton in my grandmother's kitchen when I was very little. I remember wanting more because they were so good. I can see the package on the shelf, I can see the color purple on the label. I remember exactly what they looked like. I can't remember if I snuck more, or just wanted to. Actually I was too young to even reach this cabinet. Another scene that has always been there keeps popping into my head. I don't know why. I was living with my mother, sitting at the kitchen table in our apartment. I was eating frozen waffles. That is all I remember. Seems weird that this scene that seems like nothing keeps coming to me. Others have come as well, I just cannot recall them now. AM I supposed to be telling you about all the scenes? or just think about them on my own?
And I replied:
So much to say and yet, I have today's encouragement to write. [Funny how these things work out. My response ended up being most of today's encouragement]
First, when you wrote, "I remember wanting more because they were so good," you have no idea how important this detail is. How important? Very, very important. Why? Because I am sure you are reliving this experience, eating more because you want more of the taste, almost every day of your adult life. Even more important, though, is the fact that you are reliving this scene as the little girl you were when it first happened and not as the woman you have become. This means you are reliving this scene with access to only the life skills you had as the little girl, and this is why you have been unable control these urges; when you relive this scene, you do not have access to the discipline you have acquired as an adult.
As for documenting these scenes, please do write down any and all scenes which emerge in you, especially the ones which repeat, as every one of these scenes is a doorway into self love. The trick, of course, is to know what to do with these scenes after they emerge.
For one thing, you can try using the skills you have been acquiring this month to find the personal details in these scenes, stuff like anything which would normally be there but is missing (i.e. people or animals you know were there, details of the room you were standing in, etc.), the emotions or lack of emotions you felt, etc. It also helps if you overlay an image or script on top of this process which goes something like this: see the little being in the scene as the age she is, and see yourself in the scene, perhaps bending down, talking to this little person and asking the kinds of gentle questions you would ask a person that age.
Try to see her face in the scene. This is important. The being in these scenes almost always feels profound aloneness, and your being there for her will facilitate the healing.
Why go through all this? Because it is in the acquiring of these details that the healing actually happens. And the actual detail(s) which has become charged (the key) which has been sending you back into this scene can be so insignificant to an adult that it is virtually invisible even when it emerges.
Another thing to focus on would be to experience these scenes in a way in which they last ten to twenty seconds longer. Why? Because by consciously experiencing this extra ten to twenty seconds, you rescript the outcome in such a way as to permanently alter the outcome. To the degree you can see this extra time, to that degree you will no longer suffer.
Lastly, if you are now wanting to understand why this happens, please set these questions aside. The age of the little being inside you who needs the help is much younger that a person who is old enough to understand the underlying theory anyway. Thus, allowing yourself to fully immerse in these little scenes will be the only way you will know if what I am saying is true or not. Translation: the only way to truly know if what I am saying is real is to actually try them for yourself.
And remember, I will be here for you should you need any help, so don't feel you need to understand all this before you try it. Just try it.
One last thing. Should you open the door on a huge amount of pain from your past, please know this is normal. In fact, one of the more significant signs of healing with emergence is what I call "flooding." "Flooding" happens when you have a scene emerge and when you can see the additional ten to twenty seconds of this scene, and what it is, is that once you heal a BLock, any and all related scenes flood into your consciousness.
Admittedly, this experience can be frightening and overwhelming, but less so if you remember that this is the healing process at its best. In fact, these experiences wherein you flood with scenes are often the equivalent of the work you would accomplish in years of therapy, except it all completes in hours or days at most.
Finally, if you wish to try a more formal method, you can do self-emergence (The Cycle of Three), a technique which I have documented in several places on my site. You might want to print these pages out for future reference. The addresses are: the Quik Summary: http://TheEmergenceSite.com/QuikCyclesOfThree.htm , and for a more detailed article: http://TheEmergenceSite.com/TechIssuesCyclesOfThree.htm
Obviously, this advice applies to everyone doing food month, and the changes in my own eating abilities (including my increased fitness and weight loss) have come from doing work very similar to the work I have described above.
Is this work painful? Very. But it is painful for such short periods of time that most people remark afterwards that they can not believe such a small thing was causing them to suffer for such a long time.
And remember: if you are on this list, you are capable of doing this work, even if you have yet to discover this for yourself. And for anyone who has questions regarding self-emergence, please know you can write and ask and I will do my best to help.
Day 19: November 19
Day 19. My thoughts today revolve around "failure," as so many people on this list are being hard on themselves for not being able to live up to some imagined goals in and around food, such as weight loss. Weight loss was never the goal for food month. I mentioned it only in that it is significant that some people have lost weight just from being more conscious when they eat. Thus, the actual goal here has always been to reclaim some of the joy we each had when we first arrived on the planet, a joy which is accessible only when we eat as consciously as we did when we arrived here.
Even so, when I hear people suffering like this, it hurts my heart and I can not ignore it. More so, some of the people who have expressed feelings of failure in and around eating are those most clear about the goal. For example, here is someone who has been doing food month from day one:
I guess you've noticed by now that I've been avoiding the discussion of food... which is what I'm supposed to be discussing... I think that it really upset me when I realized that I STILL think about every single thing I eat and criticize myself CONSTANTLY... I know I used to do it years ago but I really thought I had changed, I thought I was better and I didn't dwell on it so much anymore.. I was kind of upset and disappointed with myself when I realized that I still do it... so, now what do I do... now that I noticed that I'm still doing this?
Next is someone who began food month a little after the rest of us:
This is a very tough "ASSIGNMENT" FOR ME. I SOMETIMES FEEL RESENTFUL OF BEING TOLD WHAT TO DO WITH MY EATING. EVEN though I know it's not really that way, I still find myself reacting as if I am being given instruction about my eating... and it is my eating, and no one else's! So as you can see, I am struggling with this whole process.
I have so much trouble even getting past the feeling of hurry vs. consciousness, I have not gotten to "taste" yet. For instance, last night, as I tried to eat dinner at my sister's house, I found myself fighting off the intense urge to eat so fast... they, of course, were eating sooooo fast that I couldn't tell if I was eating too slow or too much. I had food on my plate to finish, and they were already finished and waiting for me, or judging my still needing to eat, or is this all a projection of my inner turmoil? it's hard for me to know what is real here, and what is my shit! The waters are murky... I am not getting a clear picture yet. Is it the old issue of my need to see through my own eyes and not some one else's? I think this issue is in play here. I may just be struggling so much because I am still trying to get my own voice loud enough to hear, instead of hearing some one else's more than mine. Volume up, please!
Next is someone who just joined us recently and who has chosen to begin now at the beginning:
Hi Steve - So many feelings around this assignment. I am always in a hurry when I eat. Perhaps a little less these days, because I am in a calm place in my life. I am rarely anxious when I eat, or that I know of. Let me focus a bit more on the feelings that have been coming up just reading the assignment and others sharing. I am agitated. I am resentful - weighed myself today to just get a feel of what that'd be like knowing I'd start this today with no interruptions from my family. Was initially OK with the number, but then slowly began the beating up of myself because the 5 lbs I lost over the summer was back. This 5 lbs as you know only too well is the "bane" of my existence. So I guess any approach to really healing this is going to bring up a lot of feelings. Interestingly enough, I am identifying with some of the writings that you are receiving, but I am reluctant to share with others. I have so much shame and guilt around eating. I know that outwardly, since I am in good shape, I can conceal the 5 lbs and people would be amazed that this is such an issue for me, but it is. Even my husband would be so happy if this guilt and shame would just "go away" in a healthy way. It impacts our life continually. Shopping and eating out choices are always made by me. Every one knows this already and hardly ever do I get confronted. Additionally, I am severely jealous and skeptical of the effortless weight loss that some of the others are experiencing during this process and of yours too. It actually angers me that you are eating "shit" and still losing. And lastly and most obsessively, I cannot stand typo's!!!! Oh my God, how neurotic am I?!?!? Will keep you updated. (Generally uncomfortable with all of this.) Love, **** P.S. Some sadness too. The painful sharing's are close to me....
It is easy to see, these people are struggling terribly with the self hate many of us experience at times with regard to food and with eating, some of us much more than others. This is why I so often remind you all to be gentle with yourselves, as gentle attention is the best remedy for this kind of mean inner focusing (self criticism, self hate, self doubt, etc.) Further, no matter how much you struggle with eating, food, weight, etc., there is no wound that becoming more conscious in and around will not heal at least in part. Period.
As for hanging in, look at what I received from the last person I quoted above not long after she posted her first response to me:
Hi - had to stop reading and write this. My most necessary goal is to love myself NO MATTER WHAT I WEIGH OR LOOK LIKE IN GENERAL. I am exhausted from putting so much energy into what I look like and how much fat is on my body and in what I eat. I am SICK AND TIRED OF THIS OBSESSION and don't know how to lift it. Over and out.
Am printing this whole "mess" out so I can have a booklet to refer to and read over and over again. It just hit me that if this works and people and myself can be HAPPY, JOYOUS AND FREEEEE of food and wounds surrounding it that I will go to school to become a therapist just for this purpose. I am first realizing your excitement attached even to the possibility that there might be some substance to this process and that is my promise to you.
Needless to say, when I read this, I burst into tears, and for a moment, stopped second guessing myself as to whether I am doing enough for people. You see, like many of you, I, too, struggle with feeling like a failure, in my case, constantly, albeit with much less self criticism now than ever before. Even so, when people write and tell me how they are still struggling with eating, my heart hurts.
What counts, though, is what I, and you all, do in response to these feelings of failure. And in case you and I have never met face to face, what I always do when I feel like I've failed is I try again, sometimes only after collapsing into a struggling ball of tears and frustration, but where I end up always is, I try again. This, in fact, is the basic outline for my life, especially over the past five or so years. Failure. Failure. Failure. Hey, it's working. Oh, it's gone again. Failure. Failure. Success. Rest for a minute. What's next. Failure... and so on.
Finally, if you are at all identifying with me and the others who are struggling here, please hear this loud and clear: BE GENTLE WITH YOURSELVES TODAY and DON"T GIVE UP <me grinning like a freakin' Cheshire cat> !
Day 20: November 20
Day 20. Another Monday. So, how have you been doing with this week's "missing experiences" assignment, and how have you been doing with the texture and temperature part of the assignments?
Me, I feel amazed at myself that I actually ate some lima beans and didn't die nor gag. Amazing. Further, I am also amazed that I could actually explore the texture and temperature of these beans consciously. And for anyone who thinks this accomplishment seems small, just consider for a moment what you would feel like if you could make peace with the food you have hated the most in your life.
I have also been noticing how I often drink things without letting them cool to what is a normal temperature; meaning, to a temperature with which I will not put my tongue into shock. In fact, I have noticed that I often put my tongue into shock, both from eating spicy foods and from eating and drinking things which are at extremes in temperatures.
Why was I doing this? I'm not sure. But when I look underneath these mistakes I find an old adversary; hurry. Can't wait the minute or so for the food to reach a more normal temperature. Rather than beat myself up about this though, I have been taking some of my own advice; giving myself gentle attention in and around the temperature of my food.
Speaking of hurry, I am glad some people are remembering to keep looking for this in and around their eating. Here is what one such person wrote to me:
I know I feel the anxiety and hurry that some of you are describing. The anxiety starts long before I get to the table, or restaurant. When I feel the first (thought) indication of hunger it starts. I become uncomfortable as to how long it will be before I will be able to eat. That is why I usually have a snack with me at all times. I begin to loose patience and become irritable. I feel angry and want to be left alone. I am careful that I am well nourished for my meetings with people because I know I am much more loving. Constant snacking... I think this is why I have gained weight over the past two years as my business has grown. I've been attributing these feelings to being hypoglycemic although I have never been diagnosed as such. At least it was a way to explain my discomfort if I don't eat every few hours to others. I see that I go into shock as soon as I think about hunger or food.
You know, even after these weeks and weeks of reading peoples' discoveries, I am still amazed at replies such as this one. And this person is someone I know personally to be very conscious and dedicated to self growth and becoming more loving. Even so, just examining her eating with regard to being conscious causes so much awareness to emerge. Bravo!
And here is another response wherein someone uses gentle attention to uncover hurry:
Tonight at dinner I noticed while I was eating pizza, when ever I took a drink of cold soda my fullness went away for a few seconds, just long enough for me to take another bite, and then the fullness comes back. Pretty strange! I also noticed how I seem to start anticipating my food approx. 1 hour before I am to eat. And when I finally sit down to eat what ever meal it is, I generally eat really fast to start and slow down in the middle some what, and than hurry to finish. (Strange)
As for the texture and missing experiences things, here is one person's take on it:
Day 15 This texture thing was interesting for me. The only texture I was really able to be conscious of was a creamy one. I think that I like eating creamy things because they slide down easy. I don't know, maybe I like it and find it easier to eat because you don't have to do any work and it has less guilt attached to it. You know, if you don't have to chew it, you can rationalize that you're not really eating it!
Day 16 I continue to notice my absence when eating, especially when I'm alone. I am not always absent though; I often drift back only to realize that I have eaten half of my meal. When this happens now, I get a little angry with myself for not paying better attention. When I am with others, I still focus more on what they are "thinking" about my eating habits. I really do tailor my eating habits with efforts to make sure others will not be too judgmental. It really seems like a very narcissistic thing! How egotistical to think that everybody is watching me!
Day 17 There really seems to be no difference between my eating and drinking habits. Most of the time I am not present for either one. I continue to drink only when necessary, which makes me wonder if I have some kind of avoidance to drinking or liquids. When I drift into consciousness, I try to slow down my eating, I.e., chewing and swallowing, but it usually doesn't last for more than a couple of bites. It is a bit frustrating sometimes, especially hearing of the successes others are having which I assume comes from being able to be more aware. I'll keep trying.
So much of this is true for me as well, although, again, less now than ever before.
Finally, one of you wrote the following to me:
Also, what happens when food month is over. What about people like me that seem to be struggling so much? I sort of feel like a kid, "but what happens to us when the month is over and your bit of research has concluded, who will be there for us?" That feeling must mean something major!! Thanks for all you help with all this. I am amazed at how much time you have dedicated. I hope I sleep tonight! I hope you sleep tonight too!!
Obviously, I am very involved in exploring conscious eating. I am also very involved with helping others with this as well. And although I had been planning on doing a month on "conscious work" during January 2001, I am now considering doing a second "food month" instead during this time. Part of a "New Year's Resolution" thing maybe? Committing to being more conscious during 2001 perhaps? Who knows. But if it is about learning to love, I am interested.
And as before, please, do your best to be gentle with yourselves today,
PS. By the way, for those interested, I will repeat the following web addresses from my site:
The Index page for Food Month is:
The address for the Quik Summary on self emergence is: http://TheEmergenceSite.com/QuikCyclesOfThree.htm
The address for the longer article on self emergence is:
PPS. Please feel free to forward this and or any of my work to anyone whom you think use a little hope and love.
Day 21: November 21
Day 21. The end of the third week. We are almost there. And if you haven't been involved as yet, it's not too late, especially since I get so much out of each and every reply I receive.
As for what you all have been writing to me, here is one reply:
Day 19/20. I've noticed that no matter how much I've eaten, I still have that urgent sense of hunger right after I've eaten. It usually takes about 15 minutes before the food settles into my stomach and that feeling of hunger goes away. I continue to eat unconsciously. This happens more when I am very hungry because my main goal is to get that sick feeling out of my stomach. It usually has very little to do with eating for any enjoyment. I do enjoy my food more when I have not pushed myself to the brink of starvation. Unfortunately, I do not limit myself to eating only during those times. I still have this thing that I need to eat regardless of whether I'm hungry or not. I think that if I would only eat when I began to feel hungry, I would enjoy my food more.
Now, for anyone who might read this and think this person is not making progress because she is still struggling with her unconsciousness during eating, please hear this (gentle voice mode ON). I have watched this person from day one of food month go from difficulty even knowing she had any unconsciousness in and around eating to becoming quite aware of some of the specific areas of unconsciousness she suffers from in and around eating. This IS progress. This is very good progress.
Further, to do this without ever seeing me face to face let alone having someone teach her emergence says a lot about her courage and persistence and dedication to her personal recovery from her wounds in and around eating.
Finally, my main focus here in this first food month has been and still is to reclaim the joy we once had in and around eating, and although her response is not joyful, she is much closer than she may realize to discovering what BLocks this joy in her.
What could she do to now further her healing along? For one thing, she could do some self emergence in and around her feelings of hunger; first, by getting herself into this hungry state and second, by doing some Cycles of Three (see the end of this encouragement for more info on this).
Are there others on this list who get keyed from the experience of hunger? Absolutely. In fact, here is one fellow who very courageously faced this suffering in himself:
Dear Steve; Well I did it! I tried keying myself back into my hunger over the past couple of days. Saturday morning I decided to not eat until a scene emerged. When I went to work Saturday morning and the coffee truck showed up on the job, I sat on a stack of plywood and just smelled the various aroma's in the air. Boy, the feelings started to overwhelm me! I was feeling anxious, feeling hunger, massive hunger, and a fear of if I didn't eat now I will never eat again. I even felt a scene emerging! Just as I thought I was almost there, though, a couple of fellow workers walked over and started to talk to me. Then the feelings went away. So I didn't eat lunch or dinner that day either. Sunday morning when I woke up, I didn't eat breakfast or lunch. I even took my kids to the movies and did not eat popcorn! (and that's my absolute favorite)
What I did notice out of all of this is all of the fear I felt in and around my feelings of hunger. I noticed myself keeping very busy over the past few days. Almost like I was running or trying to hide from these feelings. Actually, though, I was defiantly trying to explore these feelings.
Then something happened tonight I found interesting. I went to a friend's birthday party tonight. This party was at an Italian restaurant. What I noticed was the lack of fear or obsession when I walked in, sat down at the table, ordered the food, and started to eat.
I also noticed I was hurrying some what in the beginning. Whenever I noticed this, I would slow down and find myself a little while later hurrying again. Even so, I didn't feel the feelings of "I was going to die if I didn't eat soon".
I forgot to mention that before I went to the restaurant, I sat on the couch and tried to again key myself, and I realized it wasn't when I didn't eat that I had those feelings of death, but rather when I was about to eat, or when the coffee truck came on the job, or when I passed a fast food place. These were the times I would get those feelings of death. So I sat on the couch that night, and I thought of different foods I had in the house that I remember having felt this way with, and I didn't feel the same way. I don't know, but I think some of this has healed.
First, let me say that what this fellow did, which was to skip meals in order to explore his terror in and around the feelings of hunger was, for him, the right thing to do and a brave thing to do. Obviously, though, this would not be something you would do on a regular basis nor a solution to weight control.
However, as a doorway into healing, what he did was wonderful, especially in light of the fact that he ended up experiencing some healing in and around hunger. How can I be sure he healed something? Because he said that his internal experience of hunger had changed and that these changes did not require will power.
This lack of will power is important in that this kind of result, effortless change, is the only legitimate proof of healing. And by "effortless," I do not mean his efforts to get to this healing were effortless. I mean the new, less painful experiences he had after his work were effortless.
And what about those of you who have yet to even try self emergence? The following is from someone who recognized she healed despite not having "formally" learned to do emergence:
Hello Steve... I hope you are well... I realized something this morning, while reading "day 18"... when you were explaining "what to do" with the scenes that come up... I felt as though what you were explaining was exactly what happened to me in my scene when I went back and looked my little self in the eyes... that was the first time that big me had ever looked at little me in the eyes...
In my therapy with ****, I would speak to my parents or to other people in the scene, but always as an outsider. I would also hold my child self and look myself in my child eyes, but never in a specific scene, just as general healing.
Another thing I find pretty astounding about this is that I haven't yet gotten a chance to check out your web site for self emergence, as you had suggested to me... so, this whole new way for me to comfort myself face to face in the scene "emerged" through what is happening for me in food month... this seems quite amazing and beautiful to me... just thought I would pass this good news on to you.
Reading things like this person's response so encourage me, you have no idea. You see I come from (and struggle to heal) the belief that I "must do it right" for it to work. Yet just like there are no good or bad snowflakes despite that they are all different, there seems to be no right or wrong way to emerge. And somehow, we all have it in us to do emergence, given a sufficient quantity of gentle attention and self love.
Speaking of self love and the struggle to get it, here is something I received recently which others may be experiencing:
Upon reading one person's experience of being just an infant, I was so amazed and angry that s/he could get in touch with that early person. I am just wondering if I was so wounded in my early childhood and teen years that I won't permit any memories past 15 or 16? I want what they have - some more recall. ... Hope I'm not inundating you. Just e-mailing you when this stuff comes up as I finally have a block of time to devote to it.
Now, for those of you who may share this person's concern that what they may be sending me is too much for me, please know, even if you do send me stuff which overwhelms me at times, remember, it is me who is asking for this. Further, if I do get overwhelmed, it is up to me to set limits for myself. Which I do pretty well at this point in my life <grin>.
As for the part about getting in touch with early childhood memories, I have two thoughts. First, learning to do self emergence is a terrific way to access these memories as long as you remember to have support in place if you do uncover too painful a memory to handle by yourself. (I've again included the web addresses for this at the end of today's encouragement.)
Second, and this is very hard for most people to understand let alone believe, but healing does not depend on accessing these painful memories in their entirety nor on understanding why they occurred. The only thing you need access to is the actual instant in which the injury occurred.
How brief is this instant? So brief you hardly know it even occurred. In fact, it is the same length of time is takes you to have what therapists' call a "breakthrough," which is only one more way to say you had an emergence.
Finally, here at the end of week three, please take time today to be gentle with yourselves no matter how much progress you thing you have made. No one has ever healed from harshness. Ever. So if healing is what you want, leaning to give yourself gentle attention is what you need most.
PS. Again, please feel free to forward this and or any of my work to anyone whom you think use a little hope and love.