These E-Mails are from a writer named Rita who wrote asking for some help with a book she was writing. Her premise? That meditation could be the basis of a very spiritual diet. What follows, then, is a bit of what we exchanged during the course of our replies.
Rita wrote and asked me . . .
I've been assigned to write a little checkout-stand book called "The Meditation Diet". Actually, I thought this was an original idea until I started researching the subject, and found, among other things, your "Food Month" experiment in 2000.
I am, therefore, writing to ask if you would be kind enough to share some of your results with me, and if it would be alright to quote pertinent portions thereof. Naturally, all quotes would be attributed to whomever you prefer (yourself, your web site, or your organization) and will be cited with accuracy. I am, of course, particularly interested in weight-loss success stories, but the mental and spiritual aspects of the study are of equal importance to me.
Thank you for your time and attention.
And I responded with . . .
Thank you so much for writing. And just so you know, I am always open to and willing to discuss my work.
As for your including some of my findings in your book, I would be glad to have you do this. More over, if there is anyway I can help you in this process, please, just ask.
What would help me to help you would be if you told me some of the topics you're considering for your book. For example, in my work, I have repeatedly found that people believe eating a two ounce candy bar can make them gain several pounds; a physical impossibility. Also, I've repeatedly seen examples where people lose weight simply from focusing on consciously tasting what they eat, the best example being a fourteen year old boy who had gained forty pounds in the year prior to his coming to me. Now, two years later, he not only is not overweight but he absolutely loves consciously eating and continues to feel this way, this despite his not having come to me for more than a year. His mother, a very spiritual and healthy woman, tells me she is still amazed at how her son's very nature changed.
In any event, let me know what you'd like and I'll do my best.
She then responded with . . .
Thank you so much for your prompt response and cooperation on my little project. What I would like at this point are more stories like the one about the fourteen year old boy with perhaps a bit more biographical detail. I would also like to have your background and credentials, information about your work, and any general conclusions you have reached on the topic of conscious eating.
I recently completed another mini-book on the subject of increasing one's psychic powers, and, in the process of researching it, was inspired to restart my own meditation engine, leading me to experiment with using food as a mantra.
Little did I know that "conscious eating" was a well-established concept when I pitched THE MEDITATION DIET to my publisher. So, finding your web site and discovering your investigations have served to reinforce and validate my own observations, to say nothing of making my job a lot easier, for which I am deeply grateful.
Hope to hear from you soon again.
And I responded with . . .
My initial thoughts on your topic:
I've been thinking over a next e-site article regarding food, weight, and fitness. What I'm considering documents the recent discoveries I made while training to do an Adirondack mountain climb last November. The biggest thing that emerged? That the human body is digesting 24/7 and so, practicing "conscious eating" means maintaining an ongoing awareness, not just an "immediately before, during, and right-after-meal-time" awareness.
Obviously, most work done in and around food, weight, and fitness (and meditation, for that matter) has focused on being present for the task at hand, rather than on increasing the person's average levels of consciousness. More over, if I am right, the times in-between these tasks are at least as important and perhaps more important than the acts themselves. Thus in all likelihood, the key to success here is consciously managing the transitions between stillness (rest / sleep), eating, and movement (exercise).
This, in fact, is a lot of what I focused on during my eleven week training period. It is also what allowed me to alter my weight and fitness in ways I've not previously been able to do.
Not surprisingly, I had my best annual physical last November, with blood test showing what seemed to be impossible improvements. In fact, these numbers were the best I've seen in two decades. In addition, although I had planned to lose ten pounds, I actually lost twenty plus pounds and have kept this weight off with only moderate effort. More on this later.
As for some general conclusions regarding your topic, perhaps we could start with this idea.
A quick glance at my site shows I've been a busy man in the last nine years. In fact, one of the hardest things I've had to do has been to limit the scope of my explorations. Thus, if you look through the article titles, you'll see I've explored many diverse areas, including things like addictions and recovery, healing learning disabilities, managing food and fitness, understanding relationships, etc.
Has there been a common thread? Yes. The common thread has been that the measure of one's visual intensity is the best way to gauge one's level of consciousness, with more visual being more conscious, at least for the measured instant. Thus, if one were to use, for instance, mediation, in order to raise one's average level of visual intensity, then this visual improvement would apply to everything else the person did, including to their food, weight, and fitness, to their learning efforts, etc.
Now, connecting visual intensity back to my first idea; managing the transitions between stillness, eating, and movement; this means that if you were to watch for times wherein you were unable to visually be present, then you would begin to map out the places wherein you're consciously BLocked. Ultimately, then, you could know where to direct your efforts so as to make the best and most lasting personal gains, including in and around eating, weight, and fitness.
By the way, the word "BLock" is correctly capitalized. It's actually a contraction of the phrase "being lock" and is the word I use to refer to "wounds."
Why use a different word for "wounds?" Because the word "wounds" conjures up pictures of scrapes and cuts, while the word "BLock" is a more accurate way to refer to the common thread present in all injuries to human consciousness; having a blocked ability to internally visualize or said more simply, having life areas wherein one's consciousness is literally blocked.
Said in other words, "if you can't picture it, you didn't consciously gain from it." More important, to the degree that you do exercise, eat carefully, or sit meditation for long periods while not conscious, then to that degree you waste your time.
Sounds harsh. Well, not really. And there is little that is worth while that doesn't take effort, at least to heal whatever has BLocked one's ability to do it easily. More so, there is not one painful experience people have which doesn't involve their also having a BLocked ability to visualize.
Ruth, I'm sure you know this already, but I find it interesting that the word "meditation" is rooted in the Latin word for measure. Ironically, whatever you measure you can not picture.
Sound odd. Try it. Try seeing the edge of your couch and at the same time measuring it with a tape measure.
Our inner lives are similar. Meditation is really the effort to visually experience. That's it. And whether it's vapasana or transcendental; movement or rest; the principle at work is the same" no visual experience, no viable change.
How would I apply this to eating and weight management?
I'd ask someone to see if they could reclaim as much of their ability to taste sweetness as they could while still visualizing what they have in their mouth. In fact, this little exercise is a meditation and one the best ways to consciously eating.
Ah, well. So much for the quick note. Even so, my body is consciously telling me I'm exceeding my stay.
Looks like we may have much to share and discuss.
Hope you're well,
Two Success Stories About Conscious Eating
Although I'm still pretty under the weather, you're request has inspired me to begin putting on paper some of the conscious eating success stories I've witnessed over the past three years. As I write them, I'll send you what I've written, and hopefully, you'll find what you need in them. Also, if there is something else you'd like, e.g. more detail, just ask.
the First Story: Nick - age 14
Nick's mother, a warm, open, Italian woman, brought him to therapy after he gained 40 lbs. in one year. Initially, Nick and I worked on getting comfortable with each other. Then, in our first conscious eating session, I asked Nick what his favorite food was. He told me, pizza. I then asked Nick's mother if she would bring three slices of pizza to the next session.
In that next session, we each ate a slice of pizza. As we ate, I coached Nick and his mom through consciously eating the pizza and in Nick's case, e ate so consciously that he became full before even finishing that one slice.
In a sense, this experience was similar to a guided meditation, with the main differences being we all had our eyes open and we somewhat interacted during the process. What is important, though, was the focus which was to simply have Nick reclaim some of his ability to consciously notice the four tastes (sweet, salty, sour, bitter), the temperature of the food (this varied quite a bit over the time we ate the pizza, as the experience lasted about fifteen minutes), and his feelings of fullness as he ate.
I can still picture the proof Nick had experienced an emergence; Nick's smiling face, with the surprised look of wonder still on it. He was full on less than one slice of pizza!
Over the next 91 days, Nick and I explored his conscious awareness of eating, weight and fitness by having him do what I call, the "Yellow Book," a 91 day meditative diary of sorts. Please note, the Yellow Book is in no way related to typical diets in that the entire focus of this book is to become aware of when you are not aware. In other words, there is no focus on what you eat, when you eat, nor on how much you eat. The focus is entirely on discovering times wherein the person is in shock in and around eating, weight, and exercise.
The point? Whatever consciousness emerges in the person is a permanent gain. The proof? Well, in Nick's case, he lost eleven pounds in the first 91 days, this with no effort whatsoever with regard to controlling his eating. More important, he had so fallen in love with consciously witnessing his eating and weight that when I saw him two years later, he was not only more fit and slimmer than ever, but he was also even more in love with being conscious in and around food, weight, and fitness, this without any reinforcement from me or from his mother.
the Second Story: Carli - age 51
Carli was, in her own estimation, close to one hundred pounds overweight when we began to address her eating and weight. She had been under considerable stress for a number of years, and as she and I began our work together, she and her husband were in the process of separating after thirty years of marriage.
Initially, we worked on the shock she was experiencing in and around the separation. Eventually, though, she expressed a strong desire to work on her weight and fitness.
In Carli's case, she had a strong background in meditation. Thus, much of what I suggested to her was quite in line with things she already believed.
Also important, Carli enlisted the aid of a physical trainer and had a physical, and I believe this multifaceted approach helped her to more rapidly embrace the process.
As for our work together, we began with Carli doing a Yellow Book, and almost immediately, she lost weight. However, seeing her already suffering from having just separated (and worried that her primary motivation would be to get her husband back), I continually reinforced in her that the focus was to reclaim her self awareness in and around eating and weight, and not weight loss.
Five months later she had lost close to sixty pounds, certainly no easy task. More important, though, was how she felt during this process. She repeatedly reported how amazed she was (her word exactly) about how easily the weight had come off.
Equally important, though, is what I witnessed in her as she lost the weight. What I saw, and what impressed me the most, was how Carli's face never got that gray, sullen look so many people exhibit when losing weight quickly. Why not? Because that gray, sullen look is simply the visible evidence that the person is in a considerable amount of shock, the opposite of being conscious. Thus, no shock, no sullen look.
Will Carli keep this weight off? At five months later, it is too soon to tell. Also, Carli herself has expressed strong concerns that her going back to work will interfere with her ability to maintain a vigorous exercise schedule, and that this will impair her efforts. Perhaps. Even so, as reclaiming one's consciousness is the primary ingredient in any healthy weight management program, I have no doubt she will retain at least a good portion of her gains. Why? Because what she has reclaimed is not simply some new group of foods to deny herself nor some better way to utilize will power. She has simply regained access to the good programming already in her from the moment she was born.
She then wrote back and said . . .
Thanks much for the stories... they will certainly be referenced in the book. I do need, however, some more information about you and your work. You mention people coming to you... what exactly do you do? Are you a psychiatrist, psychologist, some other type of professional shrink? I couldn't find anything on your web site on your background and/or credentials, so I'd appreciate your filling me in, just so I can give you the proper credits when I use your work as examples of my thesis. I'd also appreciate a step-by-step rundown of your process when you work with clients on weight loss. I know meditation is part of it, but what else do you use, and how do you use it?
Must get back to work. Thanks again for your input. I'm really glad I found you!
RitaAnd for those interested in my answer as to my qualifications... a bio of sorts.