Day 1: Monday, January 1
Day 1: January 1 and a new year begins. Traditionally, this is a time when many people make resolutions to change the way they eat, things like, "this year, I will eat more consciously and with more self love."
This resolution is exactly what Food Month II is all about. This is our only goal here; to learn to eat more consciously and with more self love.
For some, the thought of a "new chance" will bring hope, but for others, it will bring projections of yet one more stress laden attempt to stop eating self destructively.
To be honest, not projecting such outcomes is hard. After all, most resolutions people make in and around eating "traditionally" end in failure, no matter how hard the people try and no matter how determined and spiritual the people involved.
Why do these effort fail, and what will make this effort different?
For one thing, none of these resolutions have focused on the single most important factor of all with regard to changing how we eat; how conscious we are before, during and after eating. Unfortunately, then, the reason these efforts have failed is because most of these efforts have focused on doing what I call, "damage control."
What is "damage control?" Using will power to override unhealthy urges and actions. And in the case of eating, most efforts focus on using will power to force ourselves into some ideal way of healthy eating.
Have we gained anything from these efforts? Absolutely. In fact, some of us now know more about nutrition and eating than the average nutritionist of thirty years ago. But so what. No amount of knowledge can permanently override the wounds we each carry inside us, and when will power runs out, knowledgeable wounded people will still eat in wounded ways.
What happens then? Some of us tell ourselves we have not tried hard enough. Others begin to look for a new and better way to control our unhealthy eating, perhaps saying that what they tried was just not right for them.
The truth is, though, that most of us gained a lot from following these programs. We have learned an incredible amount about what comprises health and healthy eating. Where these programs and resolutions fail, though, is in helping us to heal the wounds underlying our difficulties with eating. In lieu of this healing, we are left to use will power to try to achieve these lofty goals.
The whole point is, the only goal worth having is to regain the natural ability you arrived on the planet with; the ability to eat consciously. And the only way to regain this ability is to focus on where you do not have this ability, where you have what I call, "BLocks."
Where, then, do we begin? We begin with the simple exercises I will send you this month. Know I will be doing these exercises right along with you as I, too, have BLocks in and around eating.
What is the focus of these exercises? To reclaim your inner ability to remain conscious, before, during, and after eating. Thus, what we will focus on here will be to reclaim as much of your ability to stay present in and around eating as you can. Conversely, what we will not focus on here are things like what we eat, how much we eat, how many times we eat, etc.
Another way of stating this focus is to say we will be using gentle attention to heal our wounds in and around eating. Please know that gentle attention is never harsh, critical, or judgmental. Thus, we will be trying to notice things like an inner sense of compulsion and or hurry. But we will not be watching nor reporting what or how much we eat.
Now, for anyone who is interested, I've written a more thorough description of the focus of Food Month II in the flier which some of you have read. For those of you who may not have read it, I will be sending it out again to all of you in a separate e-mail. Perhaps you might know someone whom you could forward this flier to, someone who may not have heard about Food Month and whom you think might like to join us. Or perhaps you may not have had the time to read it yet.
Whatever the case, I've also posted this flier on my web site, along with the Food Month I transcripts; the assignments, the responses, and the encouragements which the first group of us shared with each other during the month of November, 2000. Thus, if you are like me; one of those who begins things by reading everything I can about what I'm getting myself into; you might like to look though some of this. If so, I've included the web site addresses for all of this at the end of this e-mail.
On the other hand, for those of you who can get overwhelmed by having to read through a lot of description and such, know that no one need read any of this to be successful here, as long as you at least read, and follow, to the best of your ability, the thirty-one simple daily assignments I will be sending out.
One last thing. For those of you who, like me, look to be proficient the first day they begin learning, please try to remember this: the skill you seek is already inside you. You had it in you from the first moment you arrived on the planet. Thus, what we are doing here is not new learning, rather, it is reclaiming access to learning which is already inside us.
Further, because this learning is already inside each of us, we are all masters of conscious eating already. We have just, most of us, lost our way.
Finally, let me wish you all the best January you have ever had, a January in which you reclaim what is certainly one of any human's most prized possessions; the ability to eat consciously.
Good luck and God Bless,
The Food Month II Flier is at:
The Food Month I Main Index (with links to all assignments and
responses) is at:
The Food Month II Main Index (with links to all assignments
and responses) is at:
The Quik Summary of How to do the "Cycle of Three"
(the instructions for self healing) is at:
The Cycle of Three article length description is at:
Day 2: How are you all doing? Being gentle with yourselves, I hope.
I, for one, am noticing both the gains I have made over the past three months and the clear evidence that I have a ways to go as far as healing my own injuries in and around eating. For instance, today I noticed something about hurry I had not noticed previously; I noticed that I usually take rather large bites.
After noticing, and after realizing this was but one more way I hurry through meals, I then tried taking smaller bites while paying gentle attention to my inner experiences. The result. I noticed I got anxious when I took smaller bites.
As I then continued to deliberately take smaller bites, looking to have some scene emerge inside me, thoughts began to race through my head, thoughts like, "if I am the last one to have any left, I will have to share it with everyone else or be told I'm selfish." "Even if I am still hungry."
Within seconds I was crying tears which must have been frozen inside me for more than fifty years now. Tears that got frozen inside of me when I was about three or four.
Of course, I could have chosen to do damage control with this big bites thing; meaning, I could have chosen to use my will power to take smaller bites. But why would I have chosen to do that? Anytime I use will power to override my internal injuries, all that usually happens is I get real tired real fast. And discouraged as well. Then the beatings begin, and most of us know what that is like.
Even so, I know all too well that there are times and places wherein it is best to do damage control. Like the times wherein you are unable to come out of shock. But the truth is, I prefer to invest in efforts which can lead to healing rather than in efforts to learn new and better ways to exert will power over my internal injuries.
More important, though, I would rather heal than do damage control because healing means being able to remain conscious in some previously inaccessible are of your life. It also means being able to experience self love in some place where you previously felt only self judgment or nothing at all. This outcome is certainly a lot more desirable to me than having to exert will power over these things for the rest of my life.
As for what others have been sending me, here is something I received from someone who also did the first Food Month:
Happy 2001!! :)
I must say that Day 1 was a whole lot easier to get through this time than back in Nov. I was able to consciously observe my eating (which I have been doing all through Dec.) without all my "demons" coming back to haunt me.
It's still difficult for me to stay conscious through out an entire meal, but I am able to regain consciousness much easier. I have also noticed that I am still; #1 - fighting with the notion that I must eat everything that I put on my plate; #2 - tend to feel obligated to at least taste everything that is on my plate, "wouldn't want to insult the host."
But on the bright side; I; #1 - no longer feel compelled to eat things I do not like or when I am not hungry; #2 - am enjoying the taste and textures more than I ever have; and #3 - can comfortably eat in front of guests without feeling like everyone is watching and judging what I eat!!!
Thanks for everything,
PS- I bought myself a pair of jeans for the first time in 10 years!!!!! They are not the size I would like them to be, but I can live with the size they are!! (two sizes smaller a year ago when I last tried on a pair) **** and ***** couldn't believe their eyes! I'm almost giddy! Thanks!!!!! :)
What a difference in the tears I cried during my emergence and those I cried when I received this e-mail. Especially when her response again makes me realize how we are all so much alike in our struggles. Speaking of which, here is what another person sent me:
Happy New Year and I hope you had happy holiday's!! I have been looking forward to this month for the past few week's and it is finally upon us.
Well today before I ate dinner I noticed my hunger and the anxiety I was feeling. It was as if I didn't eat soon I was going to die! This familiar feeling is back from last month and it is strange because as you know last month I went 2 days without eating or drinking. This is one wound I pray to heal this month.
I also noticed when my wife called me to dinner I went into the kitchen and was grabbing food from the stove before it was served. I even ate 2 or 3 things before I sat down at the dinner table. I noticed I was rushed to put it in my mouth, chew it, and swallowed it after only a few chew's. I also noticed the relief that came over me after the third or fourth bite. Pretty sad.
While eating dinner I noticed I don't look at anybody while I am eating. Now I noticed in particular I tend to look down or at other food, in a frantic kind of a way, when I put the fork into my mouth. After the food is in my mouth it seems easier to look up or at other people . I did notice that I feel about 7 years old while this is happening.
When I eat candy, I tend to take large bites, chew fast, and almost swallow it whole. Or in the case of a lollipop, I will suck it real hard in order to finish it fast. I also noticed I tend to hide other pieces of candy from people and eat it very quietly.
That's all I have for now
No coincidence, this fellow mentions taking big bites. And that he has fallen back a bit in some places he thought he had healed. This is normal. Not failure. More important though, please know that this is the kind of honesty which almost always leads to healing. If you combine it with gentle attention. Which is just another way to say, we need love and consciousness in order to heal; no surprise to all of you, I'm sure.
And on this, the end of day two, I wish you all a very peaceful and serene evening and a good day tomorrow,
P.S. For those who may not realize it, I would be honored to hear about any of your experiences. More so, sharing with each other IS a very potent form of the love we all need to heal.
And again, thank you for helping me.
Day 4. Clearly, one thing which seems to be a theme for many of you this time, as well as last, is that many of you offer explanations as to "how" and "why" you eat the way you eat; why you experience what you are experiencing; in other words, the "becauses." The following is but one example:
I'm not sure what I might be doing wrong after reading your message today and those of others. I noticed that I ate more hurriedly than I imagined on day one and slowed down today, but found that no horrifying haunts of my past came through that were upsetting. I only recall my mother's years of training that we should eat everything on our plates and chew our food well to prevent poor digestion.
The first remembrance about my mom came to me today when I realized that last evening, I left a pirogue on my dish that I felt too full to consume. Perhaps, a subconscious thought of one who has always been considered a bit of a rebel? Now, I'm trying to recall if I've ever left food unconsumed on my plate in recent years!! This thought seems ridiculous to me since it honestly doesn't matter to me whether I did or not.
I thoroughly enjoy good food, don't usually overeat, eat what I like, don't feel any anxiety, but do eat faster than I ever did because I've too many new learning projects that I've begun over the past 5 years-- like earning a college degree and graduating summa cum laude in my mid-fifties. So, my rushing to eat is because ...
However, I don't yet see what the connection is between my eating habits and my thoughts, unless the process is to allow me to acknowledge myself openly and confidently in a new forum. H'mm, interesting concept. Oh well, let's see what day three brings forth.
This person is doing nothing "wrong." She is doing great. She obviously is quite conscious of much of her life and her lack of scenes emerging is not surprising.
Even so, look at the very good questions even just two days of gentle attention have already raised in her. Very good questions. More important, these kinds of seemingly trivial questions are what most often get overlooked in the healing process. Yet these kinds of questions are often what lead to the most significant increases in self love.
As far as anyone who may be caught in the "becauses," please do your best to just set them aside and try to just be gentle observers of what your internal experiences are like, before, during, and after eating. Also, please make note of any scenes which may pop into your consciousness even momentarily. Here too, the most seemingly insignificant flash of a scene is often the doorway into great healing.
And be patient. The people I quoted on day two have been doing this work (emergence) for some time now. For instance, the following is from someone who has been doing emergence for a few years now:
As I sit here slurping my coffee I really must thank you for doing this again. I don't know if you remember my experience from day 3 in Nov. (being punched in the neck for making "swallowing noises.") Well since than I have been very conscious of drinking and the noises involved.
Gee, everyone makes "swallowing noises" when they drink! This observation has allowed me to truly slow down and savor what I am drinking; it's also cut down on the instances of scorched tongue!
In regards to eating. While over the past month I have been very conscious of slowing down and have been enjoying eating more than ever before. Yesterday I did notice that when I am eating something I really enjoy I tend to speed up my eating considerably.
I remembered an instance when I was about nine. We were having baked fish that my dad had prepared. It was delicious, and I was taking my time enjoying this wonderful meal when my mother suddenly got up from the table and took my half eaten plate away, saying that she was tired of watching me "waste" all this good food!
HUH- this was the same woman who would force me to sit at the table for hours until I finished the lima beans or her disgusting succotash?!!
Thanks for helping me reclaim what is mine!!
And here is another:
One very difficult things for me to keep in mind is to not just pop bites of food into my mouth thoughtlessly. I was cleaning my son's tray this morning and just ate the two bites of waffle left without even thinking about it. I chewed for a second or two before I realized what I had done. Then I spit it out before swallowing because I wasn't even hungry.
I know I have messages in my brain telling to eat every little bite that is left. I remember my grandpa telling me "finish your food, there are starving children in China" How could a wound have incurred from just that sentence?
And one more:
Well, the Dalai Lama grasp I had on my conscious eating left about a week ago. Once again, this is my false belief that once "I got it" and will be able to hold onto to it. It seemed so easy about two weeks ago: I had been honoring my hunger and my fullness; thus, only eating when I was hungry (and eating anything without judgment), and stopping when I felt a fullness in my belly. Now, that the holiday's have passed, I realize that I go in shock about the fullness in my belly, and I will keep eating beyond excess. Although I am so full ( but I am not really conscious about it) and uncomfortable, I will keep eating.
I've been trying to wait until I am hungry until I eat again, but I think this is a mixture of trying to feel conscious about my hunger and trying to fill my belly when I am hungry ( I don't want to gain weight).
Also, when I am that five pounds heavier, I hate the feeling when I am sitting down and there are a few rolls in my stomach. When I am the five pounds lighter, I feel thin and comfortable. Whoa, it's only about five pounds, but it makes the world of difference. And the irony is that I will eat more when I feel the heavier.
Also, I noticed that I will start off chewing consciously, with a few breaks, and then I will swallow the last big piece in my mouth to take a new bite; it is sort of like chain smoking. That's it. Be well.
Please note: all four people I just quoted are making very good observations. Notice also, though, that while the last three are seeing possible connections to things they do while eating, they are not offering "becauses." Admittedly, they have all been doing emergence awhile now.
If you are still offering explanations, please do not be hard on yourself. The world trains us and at times, even demands explanations from us. So don't be hard on yourselves if you do find yourselves doing this. Just do what you would do for a little boy or girl whom you were trying to help: just give yourself a gentle reminder to be mindful of your experiences, nothing more.
Finally, for those of you who did the first Food Month and therefore, were used to receiving encouragements daily, I wanted to mention that I have decided, for several reasons, to send less of them this time.
For one thing, many people told me they got overwhelmed the first time by all I sent, and this is the last thing I want to do in a month focused on being conscious.
Second, for those of you for whom this is the first time or for those of you who were in the "overwhelmed by the many pages I sent daily" group last time and so could not read all I sent, all of the first Food Month's encouragements are still posted on my web site at: http://TheEmeregenceSite.com/Trans/TransFoodMonthMain.htm . Please know that you could probably find the answers to many of your questions about Food Month there.
And the last reason I am sending fewer encouragements this time is, I don't know where my head was when I scheduled this, as I am supposed to be on vacation <grin>! LOL. So although I am glad to be doing this, I, myself, am trying to take things a little easy.
And trying to be conscious of my own eating.
Day 7. What a week this has been for me. And for many of you, judging from the responses I have received. And to be totally honest, a good deal of the time this week, I have been struggling. In the end, though, like all the difficulties we find the courage to face, I yet again remember why I do this work and what it is like to grow, and to gain an ability to love, myself and others.
One thing which made this week hard for me is that the week began with me receiving some rather cruel and threatening hate mail from some unidentified Dr., someone who had read the flier and was reacting to it. This was then compounded by a response I received from someone on this list, someone whom I had chosen to share this with off the record, and someone who responded by calling me, "weak."
How did this all turn out? Actually, really well in fact, and I was very happy when I recently received the following from the second person:
What I learned today is that my intolerance of forms of weakness as I perceive them, is based only on my own experiences. So, you have helped provide me with another "key word" to think about-- intolerance. Thanks, Steven!
Why mention what to some may appear to some to be totally off topic in a month focused on eating? Because most people who struggle in and around eating and food generally see what they are unable to do as a "weakness."
These assessments are just plain not true. More so, these kinds of mean statements often impair ones ability to heal. I spoke about this more at length in my reply to the above response:
So glad these things are emerging in you. Self love is a wonderful thing to gain.
And thanks so much for sharing your stories. Yes, I am very busy but just the same, I sense the spirit more than the words at times, and the spirit of the peoples' courage in your stories is one of my favorite human experiences, almost as much as compassion.
BTW, you might be surprised to know I don't believe in weakness, at least in the way you use the word. I think you mentioned your sense of this difference between us.
For me, the word itself, as commonly used, is a judgment, a "meanness," or a "being hard on someone which comes at a time they need love the most."
My preferred way of referring to such parts of people is "BLocks," which is something somewhat related to what the world calls, "wounds." However, even here, my sense of the word "wounds" is also different, in that my word "BLocks" (yes; capital "L" is correct, "BLocks" is short for "being locks") are places in which a being struggles to experience love.
To me, this description, which focuses on what is really important; the missing "love," honors both the person and their suffering in a much more gentle way, while still speaking honestly about the person's pain.
As for the word you used; "weakness"; yes, all people have "weaknesses." We all get injured no matter how kind and loving our parents were.
In my language, though, (which I prefer not so much because it's mine but because the differences are far from subtle, as the focus is on love.), all people incur BLocks, most of them during early childhood.
However, while some of the BLocks are accompanied by terrible symptoms as in the case of the young women you wrote to me about, others are barely visible except for the conspicuous absences of the ability to love in certain areas of the person's life.
The world, not focusing on the love missing in injuries, believes you can will yourself into health and into the ability to love. In reality, though, unless you actually emerge from these BLocks, as in this instance you have in and around the word, "weakness" and intolerance, then all you can really do is what I call "damage control," which is just my way of saying you use your will to act loving despite feeling differently inside.
This difference is especially important here in Food Month. Why? Because the whole focus here in Food Month II is to have these emergences, those experiences in which you reclaim your ability to love in some area of your life.
And I actually have to thank you for the "weakness" thing that happened between us. I, too, had a bunch of stuff surface and now feel yet one more degree less ashamed of those BLocks still unhealed in me. So thank you, Jean, for being yourself.
Are any of you seeing your struggles as "weaknesses." If so, try to gently let this belief go and try to focus on the task at hard; recovering your ability to be remain conscious during eating.
So, what are people noticing? The following is very typical:
I have tried in these last two days to be aware. What I have found is that I am very anxious about all my food stuff again. What is also very prevalent is my feelings of urgency and hurry. For instance, while I was eating my favorite salad tonight I was getting an internal message, screaming in my brain, "hurry, finish, big bites, whatever it takes to be done."
I couldn't believe how much salad I was trying to fit on my fork. I was tasting it, but rushing. I didn't sit with it long enough to feel the feelings and see if a scene emerged, though. Something made me want to run away, or maybe I had to chase my two year old.
Very good observing. And for those who may not recognize it, those who in general tend to be a bit too hard on themselves at times, may need to be reminded that this person's response took courage to speak.
The following is another example of courage and of very good observing:
Yesterday at dinner I realized when I drink, I tend to through the liquid to the back of my throat in large amounts and swallow it in big gulp's without even tasting it. I generally drink large amounts when ever I do this too.
Tonight at dinner I tried slowing this down and I actually tasted the bitter sweet taste of ginger ale. It was pretty amazing. I also noticed some where in the middle of my meal I go into shock and start eating unconsciously. I start to take large bites and swallow with only a few chews.
These kinds of observations are the actual work here in Food Month; gently observing your inner experiences in and around eating. Can they actually help people to heal themselves? The following is but one example of this:
And I thought I was going to be able to breeze through week one....
We went out to lunch yesterday at our favorite Mexican place, where I always order the same thing. We were in no particular hurry and when we got there, the place was nearly empty. The waiter is quite the character, but very inconsistent when it comes to being attentive of his tables. OK- long story short, after bringing us the chips and salsa he took another twenty minutes to actually take our order. I was OK with that as **** and I were actually having a civil conversation, until, that is, when the other tables began to fill up.
At this point, I found myself getting very anxious and impatient. Worrying that the waiter would take one of the "new" tables' orders before ours. (We were there first).
I realized that this is how I feel almost every time we go out to eat. I'm afraid that we will be over looked. This usually sets me up for a less than enjoyable, rushed dining experience
On the positive; once the order was taken and our food arrived I took a very deep breath and sat there for a minute or two just enjoying how the food looked on the plate and anticipating how great it was going to taste! It turned out to be a thoroughly enjoyable meal! I ate slowly and truly enjoyed every bite. I was also very conscious of being full after eating only half the plate.
Does this happen to any of you? For me, I was quite surprised, as this was a "me too"; another place in and around eating in which I had not previously recognized my hurry.
Some of you are also having scenes emerge. The following is one example:
What I am noticing thus far re: eating is that "I don't wanna havta to do anything". I'm about two years old. I'm seeing myself on the kitchen floor, and I see the color of the tiles. I don't want to have to come to the table, and I don't want to stop playing with my toys! I can't see my toys, however. ("I've been robbed. LOL").
This is how I feel much of the time, i.e., that I don't want to stop what I am doing to go eat even when I am hungry. Hmmmmm...... This is enough for me to see now, and I am learning to simply accept my limit, and then wait for "me" to be ready to reveal more.
Please know that not everyone will have scenes emerge. Some emergences like the one the first person had are recognizable simply by seeing a noticeable increase in the ability to love.
And one more example of healing:
Hello, hope you are well. Hope food month two is going well. It has been very interesting. I think on average I eat half as much as I used to. Most of the servings that I take, when I'm conscious, rarely get finished, and I'm not thinking of the next time I'm going to eat.
As far as hurry, when ever I'm really hungry, I cant eat fast enough. I'll heat something up and while that's cooking, I'm shoveling food into my mouth as fast as I can. It's like I never ate before.
At first I was dismayed at what a "pig" I was being, but then I worked on noticing it lovingly, and even as I write this, an image of cookie monster devouring his cookies comes to mind. Always liked him.
I notice my energy levels have changed also. Two hour workouts at full tilt and loving it. I find that I'm going to the gym because I enjoy it and look forward to it, rather than I have to because I'll get fat.
That's another thing, today I don't hate my belly, my gut. Today it's a part of my rather than something to be excised. I thought if I got comfortable it would stay so I avoided that. Instead, each time I go to the gym I work on staying conscious, especially when I feel fatter and / or weaker than other men in the gym. The experience of having a "gut" effects how I eat. If I feel "too fat" that suddenly things to eat become categorized into things I can eat and things I shouldn't eat. At the very least I lose the ability to discern between what I want to eat and what I don't. I also go into further shock as evidenced by my inability to make a conscious decision. When this happens, I usually feel the need (translate: HAVE to) eat out at a restaurant and gorge myself until I'm so full that it's uncomfortable. What happens next, I'm not sure, but I do know that I become painfully aware of how stuffed I feel and usually spiral into the confirmation of how fat I am.
Here again, this person's observations, and admissions, took great courage. And yet, the obvious increases in self love he reports having experienced make it all worth the struggle.
Please know that these last few responses are from people who began practicing "conscious eating" last November. Thus, the insights and healing they report is obviously the result of much work. Thus, if you have not experienced these kinds of thing yet, please, hang in there. You deserve these things as well.
And on this, Day Seven and the end of Week One, I hope you all find in yourselves today an abundant supply of gentle attention.