Day 8: November 8
A new week and a new group of assignments begins. As I said at the beginning of this week's assignment list, though, please remember that I designed this weeks assignments in and around the skills you gained from the first weeks assignments, especially in and around the simple skill of noticing your internal life, including the experiences of detachment, mental and emotional processing, and internal consciousness.
The following is something I sent to one of you brave explorers last week, a response to her asking me something about her own consciousness. She wrote:
Day 4, I enjoyed reading the examples, but wonder why I ended up in the "head" category. I'm a very emotional person really and actually, I try to be less emotional because I'm too emotional. Writing for me is a way to deal with all that messy emotional stuff.
And my response was:
****, please hear these things spoken in a soft, caring voice. Also, I have just a few minutes before I have to leave to do thirteen straight sessions so I'll need to be brief.
The head - heart thing can be very difficult to learn to identify and in fact, most people never do learn to see it. So, while all people have a spirit and all people have a spiritual voice; the heart; most people rarely express the heart voice because the head voice is so much louder. This is not so much a case of no heart voice then; it is more a difference between the volumes of the two voices.
What I am saying is, in effect, you can have a heck of a lot going on inside you emotionally, but if the head volume is sufficiently louder, it will drown out most of what the heart is trying to express. What then comes across to others is mostly head stuff, and to be honest, unless I was sitting right there across from you, this is just about all I would hear.
You, on the other hand, would be feeling and thinking both but would have little to no idea that head stuff was all that was coming across.
I myself try to sense such things, the balance between head and heart, by picturing them as beings on two ends of a seesaw. Healing (and discovering the truth, which is just another way to say "healing" occurred; emergence) happens only when both ends of the seesaw are balanced in mid air; quite a feat for us mostly unconscious humans. And most people mistake mental awareness for consciousness, thus, missing the nature of most of their experiences as this nature is visible ONLY when both head and heart are simultaneously visible in equal proportions.
As for your efforts, please, please, please do not hear my words as criticisms. You are really doing very well here, and this only a few days into the month. And this is somewhat public forum and you and I have never even met.
More important, I can somehow tell that there was someone in your early life who injured your love of expressing emotion OPENLY AND PUBLICLY, wounded you in such a way as to inhibit expressions wherein you feel the sheer joy which a person feels during times wherein they feel totally free to speak from the heart right there, out in the open, with no need to hold back.
Yes, certainly, there are times and places where this is neither safe nor appropriate. But this month is not one of them.
Finally, people often mistake words which contain extreme pain for the only genuine ones, and in case you are misreading this forum in this way, please know, I look mostly for the little child's voices crying out, small but powerful expressions wherein there is no holding back. These expressions are often about seemingly meaningless or trivial events. So what. Hurt is hurt. And no one has the right to judge another's pain.
****, I am glad you are doing this with us. And glad you shared your concerns with me. And you will hear no judgment from me as to the content of your reports other than to offer whatever help I may see relevant. If, at any time, it is too much, please just let me know and I will be glad to go slower and more gently.
My point here is, this consciousness stuff can be confusing and difficult even for the best of us, and I, myself, am constantly amazed at how many of the small details in my everyday life I have not previously recognized consciously.
Today, again, try to be gentle with yourselves. Perhaps, you might also try to notice when you are not being gentle with yourselves, in other words, when you are being hard on yourselves, especially with regard to how well you see yourself doing today's assignment.
And no matter how well you are doing, please give yourself the credit you would give a small child for trying, the credit you all deserve for just showing up for life each day.
And thank you again,
Day 9: November 9
Day 9. I'm a little tired. Are you? For me, this has been surprisingly overwhelming, yet powerfully healing.
By this time, I'm sure, some of you are discouraged too; perhaps you started late in this process or perhaps you just couldn't get going.
Please, don't give up. As you may have noticed, I sent out the second week's assignments to everyone. Why? Because you're all worth it no matter how much you find and or write. And because sometimes people need a second chance. Or a third. Or a fourth. Or a ...
As for what you're sent me, a lot of you are having amazing insights, with scenes and healing emerging in places you've never noticed before. For many of you, though, this process has been little more than frustrating and confusing.
If you are one of those in the second group, let me just say this: please don't quit. No one is getting judged here. We all have struggles, many of us around writing and or assignments. And more important, sometimes, those of us who have had the more dramatically painful scenes have the easiest time discovering them. Well, not easy exactly. But these scenes seem to emerge easier for many people, perhaps because they are so dramatic.
What is important about this though is that this means, sometimes, the people who have had the seemingly less dramatic wounding scenes have to struggle harder to find their wounds.
Please know, the size of the drama has little to nothing to do with the effect the wound has on your life. I has seen the most seemingly insignificant hurts BLock whole areas of people's adult lives.
The point again is, please, don't judge what you are or are not finding. And please, hang in there.
The following is an example of just what I have been talking about, a person who was struggling to see the wounded part of her eating experiences. She wrote:
I'm glad to see that your project is going so well. I'm sure you're very happy.
I have read through all of the various responses and am amazed at what some people have been through. I am a little unsure what exactly I can contribute. I don't share in any of the horrific parent/child experiences of food regulation. As far as I can remember (and maybe that's the point), my mom always allowed us to eat whatever, and whenever, and as much as we wanted to.
What I do remember about this is that I never, never finished my plate of food. And I still don't today. I don't feel guilty about leaving food and throwing some of it away. Even today if my Dad takes me out to eat there is still food on my plate. He will still comment as he has done my entire
life that I didn't finish my food. I reply with, "Daddy my entire life I have left food on my plate, I don't think that is going to change now at 35". As I write this I think-maybe this is my issue- leaving food on my plate. My sister, her husband and I will go out to a restaurant. On occasion, not all the time, **** and I will split an entree because we know we cannot finish all of our food. I still remember my sister and I ordering off of the children's menu way past the point of our age warranting it, just because the portions were smaller and we could finish our food.
The thing about all of this information is that it comes from my brain-it's all mental info. There is no emotion attached to it. What does that mean I wonder? As far as the source of this habit I can recall my grandmother, who had lived through WW II, leaving my sister and I at the table for what seemed like hours until we "finished our food, cleaned our plates". **** and I were always smaller, skinnier kids and I don't think we required that much food. We would sit with our plates in front of us while my grandmother said, "finish your food or else I will shove it into your fanny". A rather gross thought. We would sit by ourselves and try to eat a few bites then wait it out. We would feed the dog if possible, or put some food into a napkin, anything we could think of. I am sure that this experience had a major impact on my eating habits. I'm not sure what.
My train of thought was just interrupted - I had to go into a meeting. Now I've totally lost my train of thought so I hope there is something here that is helpful. I am a little confused as to what I am looking for.
And I replied:
Surprisingly, you do not recognize the injury for what it is. Or not so surprising really, as the wound is what you can not see and not what you can.
You can so easily recall these examples of being criticized in and around finishing your meals. This is what you can see. At the same time, also recognize you do not feel anything with regard to these events. Therefore, what is missing is the emotional content of these events.
Are they important in your life? More than you will ever know. And if you would like to heal what is BLocking your access to these feelings, simply continue to be a gentle observer, especially of what you can not experience.
Hope you're well,
As you already know, it is important to notice what you can see, as far as suffering, but it is equally important to notice what is missing; what you can not see. Further, these inconsistencies are sometime more powerful markers for injury than those which seem more painful. Not always. But more often than you might guess.
And as we work on recovering the sweetness in our eating, please also try to recover some piece of the sweetness in your lives today. You certainly deserve it.
Day 10: November 10
Boy, this tasting thing has been hard for me. How are you all doing with it?
I am beginning to find that I can taste sweetness in things where I had not previously noticed sweetness, such as the sweetness in the cream in my coffee. Could it be, I am becoming a little more conscious of the taste of sweetness?
As for what people are sending me, here is one person who is really experiencing the spirit of the sweetness assignment:
Sweetness is sooooo good! It is easy to taste it and enjoy it. I do hurry through it along with everything else. I tend to eat sweets more secretly than other food as it is "junk" and I feel like I have to hide it. Sometimes I am out with other people and want something sweet after a meal. If they don't have dessert, than I usually don't. I think I am afraid of being seen as a pig, afraid of people thinking, "wow, did you see how much she ate." I do have a scene from when I was about 12. I have always remembered the scene, my sister and used to make icing and eat it plain. We always did it in hiding so we wouldn't get caught. It is a bit embarrassing to even tell you this. It sounds disgusting, who makes icing and eats it plain. I feel gross even thinking about it. How could we have thought it tasted so good? So, I don't know if that scene is related, it has always been with me.
Another scene that has been with me also is standing in my kitchen with my high school boyfriend. I had made brownies, he was scarfing them into his mouth, totally unconsciously. I remember being grossed out with him doing that. I have also watched my dad eat unconsciously forever. It always made me uncomfortable, but what can you say to someone doing that? If I had ever said anything, I knew he would have felt embarrassed and ashamed.
And another, who is, like I am, struggling to identify the tastes:
Hi Steven. Hope you are doing well and taking care of yourself. Interestingly, no grand emergences or memories. I do notice that I'll often put off eating or drinking if I am wrapped up in something, Guess I learned early to wait huh?
As for taste, I became aware, at least for today, that I wasn't tasting my food. No memories but very caught up in a conversation with a friend while eating, as though in my "being" with her fully, I couldn't stay conscious of the taste or even that I was eating! No anxiety, rather childlike happiness that we had finally gotten together to visit and catch up.
Hmmm... can it be that we are not in shock but that we are so entranced with another object or person that we don't taste our food? When I would take a bite, I would notice that the dressing was sweet but also tangy (is that sour?) the chicken was smoked and tender and sweet also, not as salty as I would have imagined. The salad was given a surprise of apple which was crunchy and sweet mixed with a mustiness of brie. (You tell me: is brie salty, bitter , sour or salty? LOL I couldn't tell you but I adore it.) This was a meal I was "living inside of" if you will. Lovely. I felt emotionally warm and a sense of comfort and safety.
Ah the memory: **** and I eating dozens of Swiss rolls with hot sweet tea at her mom's house after school. Eating and talking. And that is what we were doing today. Just a lovely aspect to the day. Wonderful.
I don't know about you all, but this kind of honesty always touches my heart.
As for the assignments we are now doing, thing, some of you may be wondering why I would even suggest this week's assignments about taste. Why would conscious tasting be important?
For one thing, the lack of an ability to taste will indicate a vulnerability. Translation. If have trouble tasting something, you will be more likely to over eat it, i.e. if you have BLocks to your ability to taste sweetness, you will be very vulnerable to over eating sweet desserts.
Second, if you have a decreased sensitivity to a taste, you may blame yourself for over eating it never realizing you have little conscious control over this taste. How could you if you have lost your ability to be conscious of it!
Lastly, even if you normally do have a pretty normal ability to consciously taste sweetness, all people can temporarily lose their ability to taste a particular taste in any scene in which they eat a lot of this taste, i.e. when eating ice cream. This temporary loss happens because whenever your taste buds have too much to taste, they will go into shock and be unable to let you know that this taste is in your mouth. This means you will be significantly less able to self regulate your eating. Not your fault. Just the nature of how we function as humans.
As for your responses, the following is a great example of what can happen when you hang in these, even when you hate doing these assignments.
Dinner > I ate out with **** - quiet restaurant, good food, very aware of how good the food tasted, no sense of urgency, no guilt, no shame I am actually enjoying eating - writing all this is a pain in the ass but the most wonderful thing is happening - I am beginning to realize that I am enjoying food - I would never let myself even think this thought no less say it out loud - I am over weight and food has been my enemy for my entire life - I have hated eating - hated going out to restaurants - hated cooking - hated FOOD - BUT I AM BEGINNING TO BE AWARE OF THE FOOD AND ALTHOUGH I KNOW I HAVE ALWAYS BEEN A VERY SLOW EATER (ALWAYS THE LAST ONE FINISHED) AND I THOUGHT IT WAS MY SHAME ABOUT EATING THAT MADE ME SO SLOW BUT I THINK MAYBE SOMEWHERE UNCONSCIOUSLY I WAS TRYING TO ALLOW MYSELF THE PLEASURE OF EATING - I FEEL LIKE CRYING - I LIKE FOOD AND I LIKE TO EAT AND I FEEL OKAY SAYING THAT BUT AT THE SAME TIME IT FEELS SO WEIRD TO EVEN ALLOW THIS CONCEPT TO ENTER MY AWARENESS - IT ALSO PROMPTS FEAR - IF I REALLY BEGIN TO LIKE EATING AND FOOD WILL I EAT MORE THAN I SHOULD - WILL I PUT ON MORE WEIGHT - THIS IS FRIGHTENING!!!!
Sunday - breakfast > feel pressured to eat - **** offered to make breakfast and I wanted to eat with him but not really eat - but I felt pressured - I wasn't really hungry and again I ate - this feels like a pressure to eat what is put in front of you especially if some else has made the meal - I see my mother putting food on my plate that I hate, but I better not complain , I better eat it or else she will have a fit - it you don't eat what is put in front of you - you eat nothing - go hungry you ungrateful brat!!!
Lunch > no lunch
Dinner > felt conflicted, but did not want to eat, sense of sadness and anxiety - don't think it is about food, but I am feeling pressured to eat because we try to eat dinner together on Sunday so I eat - the food was lousy, I burned the pork chops and I didn't really care about the food - I was angry at myself for spoiling the dinner and don't really know what I am feeling about this meal at all - it is difficult to stay focused on this assignment today.
Monday - breakfast > take breakfast to work - bagel with egg, coffee - hard being aware since I have so much to do - I am aware however that the bagel is too hard and I am pissed off that they did not toast it - I was so looking forward to this meal - imagine that
Lunch > no lunch
Dinner > was actually lunch eaten in a very rushed manner between clients - food was good and but I was primarily aware of my urgent need to finish so I could continue working on my **** and be ready for the next person - this is really difficult to do - being aware of my internal feelings when so much is going on around me and I am so rushed to just shove the food down and get back to my work
Tuesday - breakfast > no breakfast - had seminar - woke up late - had coffee and corn muffin at seminar - both were lousy - I was hungry and angry that I did not have an enjoyable breakfast
Lunch/Dinner > had lunch at 4:30 p.m. which covered dinner too - ordered Chinese food - it was good but I thought I wanted this food but when I was half way through I realized that I didn't like it as much as I had anticipated - some urgency due to outside forces and the fact that I paid for this meal made me try to finish it - but I didn't and I really felt no guilt however I brought it home instead of throwing it away - something about wasting food keeps coming up but I don't know what the strong fear is about not finishing a meal or wasting food is connected to.
This assignment was hard and time consuming but just the fact that I have begun to allow myself to enjoy food without guilt is a miracle - thank you Steve.
I am really encouraged when I receive responses such as this one, as the spirit of what this month is about, recovering the joy of eating consciously, is so apparent in what she has written.
And on this, Day Ten, of what has been a very painful and yet rewarding month so far, please remember to give yourselves as much gentle attention as you need. You deserve it.
Day 11: November 11
Day 11. Saturday. I have been fighting the urge to apologize to everyone. Why? Because this taste thing is just so hard to do. And because I am worried I sent you all too far off track from the primary goal, conscious eating. Thus, for anyone who is, like I am, struggling with this week's assignments, I'd suggest that you focus your gentle attention on your struggle as in, noticing, without judgment, how hard it is to identify the tastes of things; in other words, write what this experience is like.
Whatever the case with your taste assignments, though, please continue to send me whatever you find as each and every person's experiences are so valuable to me. Even one line responses. They also inspire me to continue to try myself.
As for my own experiences this week, I am so frustrated I want to scream. I feel like the most inadequate unconscious being to ever to taste food. Of course, I'm not, but I feel like I am pretty close to it. And other than when I taste sugar and salt directly, I am realizing, very uncomfortably, that I have lost much of my conscious ability to taste food.
No wonder I sometimes need to eat fast. I need to cram the food into me at a high enough rate of speed just to get enough taste to know I'm eating.
As for others, here's one person who, like me, has found she has lost access to (and is in the process of regaining) some of her ability to taste:
I am definitely becoming more aware of the taste of my food. Even while I drank a Latte in my car today, I was able to really experience the taste, even the vanilla syrup! As far as the salty taste, I don't normally add any additional salt to my food and have never really been able to taste salt, unless it's something prominent like on a pretzel. Today was no different.
day one of week two -
Breakfast - coffee - good slightly sweet , no bitterness ( Dunkin Donuts Decaf) not like Starbucks which always tastes burnt to me - pumpkin muffin not too sweet with a slight hint of salt -
Lunch - no lunch - too busy and finished that big breakfast at around 1:00 PM
Dinner - hero sandwich with ham, turkey, roast beef - mostly I tasted the bread, very bland and the taste of salt was all that I tasted with regard to the meat on the sandwich (I am keenly aware of the taste of salt - I am hyper vigilant when it comes to salt because of my blood pressure and the fact that immediately begin to swell , my hands and feet, as soon as I start eating too much salt) I never add salt to my cooking and I never use table salt so when food is processed or contains a lot of salt that basically all I can taste. I also had a small piece of home made cheese cake - it was creamy and sweet but I could actually tell that there was a hint of salt in the taste. Steve - the first week was not as difficult - trying to identify specific tastes is a pain in the ass.
: - ) < that's a smiley face, in case you didn't know.
I definitely do not have trouble tasting sweetness. In fact, I almost wish I did because then maybe I wouldn't be so attracted to candy and other fattening foods.
By the way, are any of you having this same difficulty?
As for what people have been sending me, the following are a few samples:
This really is amazing. I have learned so much about consciousness just through the eating. I have learned to slow down. The eating has become an amazing benchmark. Actually, by doing this eating thing, I feel that it is like sobriety; it's almost like "yeah, I can eat quick and unconsciously, but now I know there is another way." It's like trying to drink once you've done step one. You really have taught me to slow down- It is time for lunch, and usually I want to rush right into it. I just stopped myself, and I'm even learning to walk slowly too lunch; I don't have to get it over with quickly- Wow, Amazing!!
And this one;
Steve: I spent most of Wednesday in shock. The realization about 'sneak eating' has been pretty powerful. I get anxious and agitated in the evening waiting for **** to go to bed so I can eat. I am not really hungry however, it is much more compulsion. The flip side to side is that I am finding that I have not been feeling as hungry lately during the day and I have been more aware of my degree of hunger.
I often join the feeling of eating a lot in amount with the feelings of enjoying my food. If I eat a lot with gusto and lustily, then I seem to enjoy the moment more... it gets to a point of no return. When I eat too much, I often feel sick, too stuffed, and guilty later. So what happened to the fun I thought I was having? limiting my portions seems like a cruel punishment to me, and eating a lot seems like freedom and fun... rewarding. small amounts feels stingy, tight, unloving! is my mother lurking in there somewhere?! I grew up with a locked refrigerator... did I ever mention this to you? my mother would lock it every night... dad had the key or combo... and no food would be available until the lock was opened... usually in the middle of the night, when my mother would get up, harass my father until he would open up the fridge. to this day, my mother, sister and I all have nocturnal visits to the kitchen, where mine is unlocked. when I do eat in the middle of the night, the guilt that I experience the next day, is so paralyzing... tremendous self hate. I can barely eat the next day. also I feel guilt because I know how bad this activity is for me... they fatten sumo wrestler by eating in the middle of the night. is that to be my fate? I feel very sad when looking at the family pattern... am I blaming? our fridge when growing was a war zone... many scars on the side where my mother broke the lock in desperation to eat. Oy vey! quite a lineage.
and one more;
Breakfast - normally eat with urgency due to time constraints but today was not the case . general rule I'm usually distracted when I eat. How do I feel-worried, worried as to how the food will affect me. Lunch-barely remember the experience- definitely rushed putting food into my mouth and also rushed chewing and swallowing. Dinner- my fear/worry starts when selecting what to eat. The food is hot - I eat slowly. I feel guilty- I should be eating something healthier. My attention is all over the place- not a bad thing as it slows down the rate at which I eat. Often swallow before I've chewed food enough.
And for those who have been nervous about sending me your responses, please hear this loud and clear: You are in the majority.
The following are a few confessions of this difficulty:
I am even rushing through these assignments. It is not even noon and I have already sent you today's reactions. I've got to slow down!!!!
I loved reading all of the responses. Actually, though, I was wondering what it took to get published on this site (??) I am trying to come up with something awe inspiring, but I just don't "see" it. Oh, well. It's weird, actually, but I am slightly worried about what to write. In fact, I realize I am slightly in shock; a slight block. Boy, oh boy. I think I have a wound about jinxing myself with doing things. (This just popped up when writing.) Just needed to get it down. Wow, I really think I do. I know it has always been a joke I've heard in the speech as a child; they would say: don't jinx yourself. You know, I think it is a Jewish thing. Is there such a thing as a Jewish thing? Steve, I'm gonna go do some t'ai chi to focus.
Boy this is HARD WORK!
As a whole, this is very different for me (food consciousness) and I guess with anything different, I must put an extra effort. as I'm writing to you, I feel my throat become dry and almost feel as though it is completely hollow.
To anyone who is struggling and to those who have gotten behind and have stopped responding, please don't give up.
And one last observation.
I noticed that I have charges on the four "taste" words, meaning, I have somehow made negative associations to all four tastes. "Sweet" is something you sneak and shouldn't do and if you do eat something sweet, you deserve to get fat. "Salt" is something which will cause you to have a stroke and if you have a stroke, you brought it on yourself. Sour is what food tastes like when it spoils, thus, if you eat something sour, you will get sick from eating spoiled food. Bitter is what aspirins taste like and because I like the taste of aspirins, I am weird and in some way unlovable. God! What a load of baggage in and around taste!
And to all you brave explorers on this, day eleven, thank you for sharing this journey with me.
Day 12: November 12
Sunday. How are you all doing? Oddly, I think I'm finally getting my second wind. How about you?
As I told you yesterday, I never expected this taste thing to be so hard, but it has been. On the other hand, I think my feeling better has something to do with the fact that I'm feeling less inadequate about my own difficulties with taste. At the same time, I have also begun to be a little more conscious about taste, especially sweetness. I guess that hanging in stuff works even for a hard case like me <grin>.
And I am not the only one having successes with tasting.
Day 11 I felt I had great success today. I was able to experience sweetness and saltiness in two different meals today. At lunch I had a bagel with a minimal amount of butter. But, even with the little butter I had, I was able to really taste it. It had a subtle saltiness to it in addition to being sweet and very tasty. It was very good! At dinner, I had some mashed potatoes. I was able to taste the salt as well as the overwhelming sweet taste from the milk and the butter. This was also a very enjoyable experience! This day also felt successful because I was able to have better control and didn't overeat. I also felt better about my food choices.
I can't identify sweet in most things, but I can really taste salt in most things. The one surprise was sour. Most mornings, I start the day with a cup of warm water with a wedge of fresh lemon squeezed into it. Yes, it is sour, but today, I realized that it makes my skin inside my mouth feel funny. Do you know how your skin looks when you have been in the bath too long-- pale and wrinkly? Well-- for some reason that is how my mouth feels. I take a chance and swish it around in my mouth and in front of my teeth. It makes that part of my mouth feel funny too.
I just wanted to give you an e- hug to accompany my heartfelt thanks... thank you for being YOU and for being there for me! I've had lots of trouble staying conscious enough during meals and snacks to actually do the salty and sweet thing... but... salty and sweet in that order happen to be my BINGE foods and I have had lots of scenes around the buying of... and bingeing on... these foods... and my thoughts before, during, and after these binges...
Steve; I just read your directs for week two. Taste huh? I got a good laugh... I've had a wicked cold and haven't been able to taste a thing for days. Funny how things work out.
Some may wonder why I included this last one. Why? Because this person was able to see the humor in this situation AND not feel guilt. Yea! In fact, it seems one of the best things people are experiencing from doing food month is less guilt.
Here is what one person said;
I'm feeling better today and ready to get back to eating and to food month... the very best thing about food month... especially for people like me who don't like to go to "group things" and share feelings in a group... is reading that other people are experiencing so many of the same things I am... I don't feel like a FREAK anymore when it comes to food! Even my SISTER... I never knew she had any problems with food at all! It's amazing... the people I thought were just breezing through life... not that I'm happy they're having problems but it's just nice to know that I'm not alone...
As for the healing that is going on, here is what one person sent me,
Steve... yesterday, the most amazing thing happened... I couldn't wait till the end of the week to share it with you... What did you notice today? Today, I had an amazing healing experience... since starting food month, I have been having "flashes" of the family scene at the dinner table in the house where I grew up... we are all sitting down, and eating... I don't know exactly how old I am, between 7 and 10...i see only the table and the five of us... the rest of the kitchen is blocked out except for the wall paper on the four walls and the side door... I feel my father watching... today, I, 45 year old me just stepped back into the scene (don't ask me how it happened) and reached down and hugged little me... little me just looked up to big me with those beautiful green eyes and said "thanks"... we were locked in a gaze together for a moment, and then little me continued to eat, and I felt safe!!!... a miracle!!!... thank you, Steve... this is amazing!!!...
Finally, for those of you who have not yet written or who have not even begun, please try again. Even single sentences which describe how hard this is to do are so helpful, especially for those among you who believe you are not up to this kind of thing.
And for those who joined late, I received the following from someone who recently joined us in mid stream,
HI Steve, I just wanted to write and let you know that I have been getting the assignments. Life seems to be a little havoc-filled right now. I've been trying to do the work but my mind is telling me I don't have time right now. I think the subtext is more like: !?!WHAT?!?!? START BECOMING CONSCIOUS ABOUT FOOD AND CHANGE THE AGREEMENT WE HAVE??? NO NO NO.
In what I have been able to observe so far is the minute I start preparing food or going into the fridge or cabinet and DEFINITELY when the food is on the way to my mouth- I HOLD MY BREATH. I don't even think I breathe while I'm chewing. Only after I'm done do I come up for air. I have also noticed that if I start my day with coffee I tend to crave / eat more.
Amazingly, even a person who states she is not ready to begin can benefit from this month, even from just reading what we all write, and obviously, even with her admitted resistance, her ability to eat consciously has already improved.
Really, then, the little (albeit painful at times) effort required to be mindful of what you experience before ,during, and after eating can pay great benefits, even for those who only do parts of food month, and especially if you remember that the main ingredient this month is giving yourself gentle attention.
Day 13: November 13
Monday. And we are almost half through the month. How are you all doing?
Here, on this end, I've been getting a lot of cautious responses regarding changes, and to be honest, I, too, am being cautious about what all this means. At the very least, though, people seem to be regaining consciousness with regard to eating, and this, after all, is the whole point of doing this month's exercises.
For example, the following was written by one person over several days:
Something is changing in me. I stop a lot of meals sooner now than I did before. I realize that I don't WANT to eat that much of certain things and that I have truly had enough. No more panics about getting enough to eat so I won't feel faint. I think I am "listening" more to my body's messages-- sometimes I just don't need that much food. I've also discovered that I like what I drink more than what I eat usually.
Again, I am noticing that I don't seem to be as hungry as before. I don't seem to need as much food. I'm less afraid to do silly things like eating ice cream for lunch (which I did do on Saturday-that's coming up).
Yep, something is definitely changing here. I seem to, by concentrating on taste, feel more aware of when I am done, of when I WANT to eat and when I DON'T want to eat!
I find a rebellion inside myself. Why have I neglected what I want for so long? No one forced me to eat things I didn't like. I just never put eating high on the scale of my concerns. It was just something I had to do and so I did it. If I'm not ashamed to enjoy making my environment pretty, why shouldn't my eating be "pretty" too? Where is the disconnect? Again the image of my dad complaining about the food comes to mind.
Pretty wonderful, I'd say. And then there's this person,
Hey Steven, Day 12 and I've lost 5 POUNDS!!! I still haven't been dieting or even watching what I eat. I've been eating chips and cookies and cheesecake and ice cream and I lost 5 lbs. This is crazy!! What's going on?
As far as I can tell, what's going on is simply the effect of conscious eating. Still, we have far too few people reporting to draw any real conclusions. Even so, I am still amazed by this report, and having had the same experience myself only more so (more weight over more time), I tend to think the weight loss being reported by some people is connected to what we are doing with eating and consciousness.
Even more interesting, though, are reports that some people are feeling more fitness with or without weight loss. In these cases, I feel even more cautious as far as drawing conclusions. Even so, one man who started late in this process told me on Friday he got on a scale to weigh himself because he felt lighter. Strangely, he reported that he still weighs the same which he also told me is the most he has ever weighed in his life. Yet he feels more fit than ever. And he still felt lighter! Very strange indeed.
And again, for those just beginning or those who have felt discouraged, please do the best you can. Also, know that every single response no matter how little will help me and so many others on this journey toward recovering our birthright to conscious eating. So don't judge what you have to say and just send whatever you find no matter how short or seemingly unrelated.
And from someone whom I just sent the assignments to:
Hi Steven. Thank you for sending the information. Just reading this is perhaps keying me. I am crying. Surprised? [no] I am noticing my fear of embarking consciously on this eating journey. And now that all this information is here in front of me... I feel like... YIKES!!
Yikes is right. But thank you so much, everyone.
Day 14: November 14
Tuesday and the end of the second week. I hope you're still here, even if only to support the work of others. Please, hang in. We need you. And if you have yet to start or gave up along the way, please try again. Even a few days of conscious eating can make a permanent difference in your health and your love of life. More so, you deserve to enjoy eating once again in the way you did when you first arrived on the planet; with abandon and sheer gusto.
As for the suffering involved in learning to do this again, for some of you, the experiences people have been reporting, those in which they have painful parts of their lives emerge, may seem strange or too intense. Others of you may see these painful experiences as the whole point of what we have been doing this month, and you may even feel guilty for not having had them yourself. Still others may be comparing themselves to those I quote each day and may feel they are coming up short.
Please. Try to let go of these and any other judgments you may have, and please just try to gently notice what internally happens to you before, during, and after eating. And remember, reclaiming your ability to stay conscious in and around eating is the whole point of doing this month. Further, if you doubt you can do this and believe it is just too hard for you, please give yourself another chance. I know you can do this. How can I know? Believe me, it is no accident you are on this list, and if you are, you are meant to have a chance at this reacquiring this gift.
One small hint which may help some of you who would be to not report at all "what you ate" (meaning, don't name your food) and to simply focus on seeing the small details present in "how you ate," as in what you thought about, how you felt emotionally, and any blankness and or discomfort you experienced in and around eating. The following is an example of what I am talking about, and in this example, the person wrote about what may seem to many to be a small, meaningless detail:
I had a strange experience on Sunday night. For the last few days, I have been eating very consciously; I have been aware of lifting the food to my mouth and it squeezing down my throat. But something sort of sad happened on Sunday. I realized that after the food slid down my throat, I had lost all feeling of eating, so I decided to picture it sliding down my esophagus to my belly. As I did this and it fell into my belly, I was overwhelmed with a sense of sadness... almost enough to cry. I really didn't like it and I wanted it to go away. At one instant, I wondered if I would have another bite; I was sort of nervous that there was no more food. But even when I knew there was more to eat, I still felt sad and lonely... yes, lonely... about the food in my belly (literally). That's it.
But the next day he wrote,
This really has been amazing. I don't just ram food into my mouth anymore. Actually, I am aware right when I am about to and I stop. Instead, I focus on lifting the food and bringing it to my mouth slowly. Because of this, I have not been overeating; I chew slowly, and when I am full, strangely enough, I am full. I have been eating just as much, but very slowly. And, because of this, I am not bloated, I just fill up comfortably. I also noticed that **** eats very slowly too. She does this normally. I don't know how (??)
A simple moment of gentle attention and the power of conscious eating. Amazing to me too.
As for my own process this month, yesterday morning, as I sat in my office, I noticed I was getting hungry. I also knew to pay attention to this experience as it surely is one of the more important parts of learning to eat consciously.
What happened then was at first strange to me in that as I paid gentle attention to my feelings of hunger, I noticed, for the first time I can ever remember in my almost fifty-four years, that I was not afraid of my hunger. In fact, I actually noticed I liked the feeling of hunger for the first time I can ever remember.
As best as I can see, I somehow have always had a fear there would be no food, and the experience of hunger meant I was in for a long painful wait. Yesterday, though, I felt, for the first time ever, the positive anticipation of eating and attached to it, a genuine love for the feeling of hunger. I felt this even knowing I would not be able to eat for several hours.
Loving my hunger! What a blessing. And for those who, like me, have been very positively influenced by Buddhism, here is a perfect example of the main difference between Buddhism and emergence; Buddhism teaches that your suffering comes from your desires, and that if you get rid of your desires, you will rid yourself of your suffering. With emergence, though, you focus gentle attention on your desires and in this way, learn to love them in the way the Universe intended for you to do; as a natural and normal and lovable part of your everyday life.
Oddly, when this does happen, what you used to experience as suffering becomes a very positive and even amazing experience, such as what happened to me about learning to love my hunger. And no, this does not require you to dedicate your life to this process nor that you even believe this process will work. In fact, even yesterday, I had a number of people tell me they had lost weight despite not dieting nor exercising nor making any real effort to change other than applying a little gentle attention to themselves as they ate.
More important, though, each and every one of these people told me they could not believe this was happening to them. Translation. Their weight loss can not have come from the power of the mind over the body, as they still do not believe what has been happening to them.
Finally, please allow that what we have all been taught about food and eating, that it takes a great amount of will power and constant vigilance in order to be healthy, may be only partially true. In this sense, then, this month has nothing to do with an attempt to override the need for good nutrition and healthy exercise.
Still, I believe that every one of us arrives on the planet programmed with all the loving guidance we need to live naturally loving and healthy lives and that our lack of health occurs because the painful events we have all experienced cause us to have lost access to some of this healthy programming. More important, though, I also believe (and peoples' experiences this month are supporting this belief) that with a bit of effort and help from each other, we each can regain access to loving guidance and in doing so, can free ourselves from much of the suffering we all experience in and around eating.
And on this, day fourteen, a somewhat rainy gloomy cloudy day, I wish you all the best day you have had in years, a day filled with inner sunshine and gentle attention.