Dear Grace…..I HAVE to change, but I haven’t figured out how, even though I’ve tried everything.
Dear Grace…..I’ve been told I could benefit from an inpatient program for “addiction” (in this case eating disorders), but I don’t think it will work.
Dear Grace…..I know there’s no magic bullet or pill or weekend workshop to end all my concerns and stressful behaviors, so why should I bother signing up for any program (like Eating Peace, or The School, or that meditation workshop)?
Dear Grace…..Are there going to be other people who are: my age, my behavior, my experience, my problems, my gender, my size, my shape, my religion, my background? Or will I be the only one like me?
I notice when I’m offering a time to gather together, especially a workshop like Eating Peace (this coming Friday, Saturday and Sunday 10/9-10/11) where we’re exploring the end of suffering especially around eating and investigating the internal world…..
…..people have many questions.
What I see them asking, at the deepest level, is this:
Dear Grace…..This is my story and it’s really painful. I’m afraid it will never end. I know coming to your retreat won’t save me, heal me, stop me, change me completely. But will it at least make a difference? Will it be worth it?
Have you ever felt this way about something you have a choice about?
I need it to be good (and good means: _____)
I need to NOT be bad (and bad means: _____)
What’s strange is, of course, there is absolutely no way to get any kind of solid, 100% confirmed, complete, guaranteed answer.
How does anyone know to try something new, or different?
How does anyone decide Yes or No about a possibility?
A few years ago, I signed up for a program that cost a lot of money (according to me, it felt like a huge stretch) and travel time and planning.
Before I decided to sign up, I kept going back to the information presented online about the program, and reading about the founder and teacher, and re-reading articles and books by her.
It was offered every year, and I took a look for about 4 years in a row thinking “I should do this, I really want to see it for myself.”
What was the kernel of truth, the THING I really wanted, the spark of interest that stayed alive and afloat for all that time, that invited me to say “yes”?
It’s kind of undefinable in concrete terms, but I wanted to grow my feeling of feminine power and awareness and sensuality. I loved imagining FEELING pleasure, joy and self-love.
I had already done The School for The Work with Byron Katie quite a few years before.
This felt like a way to practice a turnaround about being thrilled to be alive, and being surrounded by supportive sisters (the program was for women only), and tapping into the joy of my unique life.
I wanted some examples of what it would look like to be living and practicing that turnaround.
My old stressful beliefs were “being female isn’t that great, sisters can hurt or compete with you emotionally, and joy is elusive.”
I knew those beliefs weren’t true.
I wanted to BE who I was without those thoughts.
However, I knew that once the program was over, I’d still be in the world with myself, in my own personal life, with my mind, feelings, soul, and unfolding steps.
And that’s what happened.
I participated in the program, and then it was over.
But I had tools and very solid examples of what this kind of energy looked like. I had pictures now of how I might open up to practicing the energy of whatever I felt “feminine power” was or “awareness” or “sensuality” or “pleasure” or “support” of other women especially.
I remember during that program I walked down the street one day by myself on the way to the morning session with the sudden question “what if right now, I experienced joy and felt every ounce of this body with gratitude?”
I walked into a Starbucks, to get the most fabulous drink that felt the most divine for my body, the most healthy and nurturing.
As I ordered my tea at the counter, the man said “pretty in pink!” and gave me a huge smile (I had on a pink shirt).
Everyone was smiling in the cafe.
People were happy walking their dogs on the morning sidewalks.
I thought “I adore New York City!!” (which is where I was walking).
Was it the program, or me…..
…..or a fabulous convergence of forces and energies all coming together at once.
Neither me, nor the program, nor the curriculum, nor the city is the “cause” of that moment.
It was all of it, joining together. Connected.
Does this mean it was “worth it”?
On the very last day of the School for The Work with Byron Katie over a decade ago, as I left the big conference room after our very last session, full of goodbyes, a staff person said to me….
….”Now is the real school. Your life.”
Gasp. All untethered? Without guidance?
But who was I in that moment without the story that this meant I had to do it all completely alone, that I was by myself, that I had to figure my whole life out independently from anyone else, or that I was not supported by the universe?
Who would you be without the beliefs that if you decide to join with something, anything at all….
….it HAS TO make a difference and I KNOW WHAT THAT LOOKS LIKE!?!
Who would you be without the belief that you’re in charge?
Even with the simple act called doing The Work, or how about the simple act of eating (I know both do not seem so simple depending on your situation).
But what if you questioned your stressed out mind without expectation of the way it is supposed to look once you question it?
What I have found, over time, is when I do NOT know how something will affect my life, my behavior, my choices, my actions in a clear way….
….it’s actually a bit easier.
I let go of being The One who has to Know.
After my first School for The Work, I got a weekly partner and we kept questioning thoughts every Monday for two years.
All I need to know is that I hurt when I believe a whole novel of thoughts about a topic, and they’re all stressful.
When I inquire, I hurt less.
“You don’t need to figure anything out. You don’t need to see how it all fits together. All you need is to practice directing your attention to the life you want.” ~ Cheri Huber in What You Practice Is What You Have
Signing up for a program, a college course, a vacation, a class, a workshop, a date, a marriage, a retreat….
….what if you didn’t focus on the outcome, trying to make sure you won’t stand out, or trying to make sure you’ll be safe, or getting proof that you’ll be different (better) by saying yes?
All these are impossible to know.
What if you allowed yourself to join in simply because you’re curious? Because the way you’re doing it feels All Alone, and difficult?
Who would you be without the belief that you could make a mistake, or waste time or money, or fail at your plans to change?
I have no idea if I’m so different after my program in NYC all those years ago, but I love the story that keeps playing in my mind, the movie I get to watch, when I think about all the scenes and exercises and activities I was invited to do.
They still remind me to consider what it feels like to be responsible for my own joy in any given moment.
I could say it wasn’t “worth it” (I wondered sometimes after it was over) and I could have saved time and money NOT going.
But I can’t find that this is true, when I question it.
“Investigate all the beliefs that cause you suffering. Wake yourself up from your nightmares, and the sweet dreams will take care of themselves. If your internal world is free and wonderful, why would you want to change it? If the dream is a happy one, who would want to wake up? And if you dreams aren’t happy, welcome to The Work.” ~ Byron Katie in Loving What Is
If you’d like to enter the journey, even if you’ve started long ago, or taken it 1000 times, of questioning the beliefs that create suffering around food, diet, weight, failure, or your conviction that you must change (or else)….
….then Eating Peace is a 3 day opportunity to practice, learn, ask questions, find what’s really true for you, get a dose of quiet and insight that only you can really give yourself.
I have been down the long road of terrible suffering around food and eating, and it’s over now.
It has helped me immensely to consult those who have taken this journey and come out.
Now I can be that for you.
Someone wrote to me “I just want to get back to normal.”
Clearly seeing what you’re thinking that produces pain, the urge to eat weirdly, to rage at yourself, to be angry with your body or metabolism, to feel disappointment about food, to be upset with bread or despairing about sugar….
….and questioning these deep old thoughts is the fastest way I know to get to normal.
Whatever that is.
“Your great mistake is to act the drama as if you were alone…..Put down the weight of your aloneness and ease into the conversation…..Everything is waiting for you.”
~ David Whyte from his poem Everything Is Waiting For You
Much love, Grace
P.S. Eating Peace is for those interested in peace, and those willing to look at war. Inner war, outer war. Inner peace, outer peace. To register or read more, click HERE. You don’t have to have any kind of disordered eating to attend, and if you do, you’re truly welcome.