We began the week with the following:
This is the hard week. Just remember, I will be there for you if you need me. Also, I wouldn't be asking you all to try these assignments if I did not have the confidence in you to do them.
Also, this week, there are two themes. The first is, to the best of your ability, to become more conscious of the things about eating you dislike or even hate. The second theme is to pay extra attention to your perceived levels of fitness and to report any changes in this area which have occurred this month.
Obviously, the first part of this weeks assignments will be the easier part for most people, and I have already received numerous reports of things people have discovered they hate about eating. However, even if you have already written me about these things, please pay even more attention to them this week and let me know what you find.
As for the second part of this weeks assignments regarding your "perceived levels of fitness," start with the idea that we have all had times in our youth wherein we felt joy in exerting our bodies; times wherein we felt "fit." This is true even if you can not remember these times. More over, if you doubt this is true, you have only but to watch an infant or a young child to see that this is simply a normal part of all of our childhood's. Some of us, in fact, have even extended these feelings of fitness well into our twenties or thirties, albeit with great effort.
Even so, most of us have also experienced the losses we human beings normally incur as we age, losses which many people dream about counteracting or forestalling. This is what I am interested in exploring. Why? Because what has surprised me the most in this month's reports has been that a few people have actually reported feeling increased fitness from doing food month. How? I don't know exactly as some of these people did not lose weight. More important, though, their experience counters everything I have ever read about fitness and so, I would like to know what is happening to them.
What makes this topic even more interesting to me is that I am one of these people. I am also about to be fifty-four years old. I don't have to tell you, then, that I had never expected conscious eating to have any affect on my perceived levels of fitness let alone to actually cause me to feel many years younger. And before you hear this as crazy, know, too, that I see this as crazy as well and for this reason, have been reluctant to write about it. However, when several other people reported similar experiences, my curiosity got the best of me. So, here I am, writing about it. More on this fitness stuff as the week progresses.
Finally, because so many people have written to me to say they been wounded in and around their "weight," this month, I will be writing in this week's encouragements about the things I have discovered in and around eating and weight; how food, eating, and weight are connected to consciousness. Please remember, these thoughts are based only on my preliminary explorations. Thus, in order for them to be seen as genuine and or useful, I will need the help and feedback of many, many explorers so I can then draw more supported conclusions. Even so, those with whom I have shared these ideas have all told me they make sense and at least intuitively, feel true.
Perhaps, the first of the feedback I need on fitness will come this week. I certainly hope so. Thus, I will be very interested in how any of my thoughts on food and or fitness connect to any of your own life experiences. As for this weeks assignments, they are as follows:
This Week's Assignments Are:
Day 22: November 22
Please do this exercise each and every time you eat today, as best you can.
Today's exercise is: to be mindful of any feelings of hate or strong disgust. Did you notice you hate yourself for how or what or when you are eating, or for how much or how little you put on your plate? Did you hate something specific like a particular food or a particular flavor or a particular temperature or smell?
Now extend this attention to your sense of your weight and your body. Was there anything which came to mind while you ate which you connected to what you weight or what your body looks like? More important, did any of this effect your ability to eat consciously?
What did you experience today?
Day 23: November 23
Again, please do this exercise each and every time you eat today, as best you can. And be gentle and easy on yourself today. Today's exercises can be pretty rough to do.
The whole exercise is: just be mindful of any feelings of hate or strong disgust regarding your body, your weight, or the way you eat. Do you notice you hate yourself for what you perceive will happen to your weight if you eat this meal? Do you worry that if you eat as much as you would like that someone will see you and criticize you?
How about the specifics of what you look like as you eat. Was there anything which you hated about your weight or your body, especially after you finished eating? More important, did your weight or what you look like effect your ability to eat consciously during the meal?
What did you experience today?
Day 24: November 24
Today, again focus on any feelings of guilt, hate, disgust, anger, or shame you have, this time, regarding the amount you eat and the time at which you eat.
Were you hyperaware of the calorie content? The fat content? How healthy your choices would appear to others? Did you worry what others would think of you if they saw you eating the way you are eating? Did any of this make you rush through your meals?
Did you sneak food at any time and if so, did this make you hurry? Did you eat late at night or get up in the middle of the night to eat? Did you worry even when you eat out and only strangers see you eat? Did you have times when you hate eating or having to eat?
No matter what you find today, please, try your best to be kind to yourself. Know that none of the problems you may find are your fault, no matter how sure you are that you have caused them. And if need proof, simply consider this: if it was your choice to eat the way you do, you will remember having made these choices. But if you were responding to BLocks and therefore, were simply responding in a preprogrammed way, you will be unable to remember having made these choices.
To be honest, I have never met a person who remembers making the choice to cause themselves to suffer with food; only people who have chosen to do battle with the urges to control what is already causing them to suffer. Bottom line is, if you are wounded, then you deserve help and gentle attention, not mean critique and harsh punishments.
What did you notice today?
Day 25: November 25
Today, try to be aware of any times in which you feel love toward yourself for how or what you have been trying to do about your eating, or toward any one else for how and what they have been trying to do with regard to eating. Of course, also try to be aware of any times in which you did not feel love toward yourself when you are eating, times wherein you were being hard on yourself.
Did you struggle in the half hour before meals with your choices of what to eat? Did you fight with yourself to stop eating more after you know you have had enough? And did you struggle not to eat after you know you are full?
What did you experience today?
Day 26: November 26
Today is day twenty-six. Has this week been harder for you than the others? Easier to be aware of but harder to face?
If you have been struggling with this weeks assignments, please know, you are just being a normal wounded human being. Know that none of us is exempt from injuries in and around eating. Some of us just have fewer visible symptoms than others and or were actually luckier than others and have fewer BLocks in and around food. But we all have some.
Did you see anyone else who you thought seemed to struggle less than you and did this affect your ability to focus consciously on your own eating? Did any of these kinds of these thoughts come up during meals? What actually did you think about during meals today; anything mean or painful or self deprecating? Or have you begun to hear a new, more loving voice inside you, one which is just beginning to be a normal part of your eating experiences?
What did you discover today?
Day 27: November 27
Two days to go and this fourth week is done. Are you doing OK? Have you learned anything new about yourself recently?
Today's assignment is simply to notice what you love about eating, the details of what foods, what tastes, what temperatures you love, etc.
Did you eat something which you love the taste of today? Did you deprive yourself of what you love because everything you love is on some self designed forbidden list? Did you notice you gave yourself more gentle attention than you usually do? More supportive inner encouragements? More reasonable goals to meet?
What did you notice?
Day 28: November 28
The twenty-eighth day. Can you believe it? After today, we have only two more days to go. How are you doing after all this work? Tired? Exhausted? Hopeful? Confused?
On this Tuesday, the last day of the final week, please continue to consciously observe yourself before during and after you eat, both for meals and in between meals, watching for any times in which you feel angry, confused, annoyed, anxious, or stressed in any way. Also, once more, notice any experiences of hurry, urgency, and or being rushed.
Finally, notice any places in which you see improvement, even if this improvement is more what you now notice than what you have accomplished.
So, what did you consciously witness this day?