Could You Be On Retreat, No Matter What You’re Doing?


When you leave retreat, are you still on retreat? The light's blown out, but you are still home.
When you leave retreat, are you still on retreat? The light’s blown out, but you are still home.

Words can hardly express how ecstatically joyful I feel after being with an amazing retreat full of people this past weekend….

….all gathered together in Eating Peace, the in-person version of my new program rebuilt and expanded hugely this past year.

I finally sat down and wrote everything I ever learned that was absolutely key in dissolving emotional eating in my life.

Then I condensed the absolute most important points into 3 days.

I spent every hour with the group from 9 am until after dinner and our evening session.

Including meals.

We practiced mindful eating. Slowly taking each bite together, feeling the textures, the sensation of swallowing, the explosion of tastes, the smell of our food.

We did The Work of Byron Katie. We questioned our stressful beliefs.

I feel slow right now…..relaxed, kicking back, satisfied, accomplished.

And a funny thought came to mind as I returned home, noticed I felt hungry already upon arrival, and joined my teenage daughter chewing on roasted chicken right from the container.

We laughed and talked….and in the back of my mind I thought “what if all the participants in Eating Peace saw me eating now like this, standing in my kitchen, joking with my daughter, eating with my fingers?

OMG, they would see I’m different than the way I was on retreat!!”

Fortunately, I could notice that thought and not believe it, even chuckle, because I know this way of eating is just as wonderful for me as the other very slow, very mindful way of eating.

Really, both are sacred.

I do not forget that this thing called food, something apparently from outside of myself is entering and joining with me in a beautiful act of unification.

Two are becoming one, in the act of eating.

Even standing in the kitchen.

But it wasn’t always this way. In the past, when my eating was waaaayyyy disordered and horribly uncomfortable (even violent) I felt like I was TRYING to become one with something….

….desperately grabbing….

….but I just couldn’t feel it.

What it came down to was this one very painful thought about life, my inner world, and my relationship with the universe.

Something is scary here. Something is missing. Something is wrong with me. Quick! Run!

Other people have this same thought, I realized later.

They might not turn into eating weirdos with this alarming view of the universe….

….instead, they might drink, smoke, analyze, watch TV, shop, clean, exercise, THINK.

There are so many escapist activities to choose from, to take the edge off and hide for awhile, not feel so vulnerable, not be so daunted by the largeness of life.

But who would you be without the belief that you have to hide something? That there’s something wrong with you? Or that there is something frightening happening by being here on planet earth?

This is a huge idea….not easy perhaps to imagine.

And yet, you can.

You’ve imagined the opposite already, right?

You’ve imagined that the world is frightening, life is difficult, the universe is sometimes out to get you, or it’s chaotic. Bad things happen you’ve imagined. You’ve definitely thought there might be something missing, or wrong with you.

Why not see what it would be like, with that incredible imagination, without these dreadful, fearful thoughts?

What do you notice is happening right now, for example?

Are you OK?

Is anything truly dangerous occurring?

“To know yourself as the Being underneath the thinker, the stillness underneath the mental noise, the love and joy underneath the pain, is freedom, salvation, enlightenment….What liberation to realize the voice in your head is not who you are.” ~ Eckhart Tolle
Now, the retreat is over, but in truth, watching, clarity, love and gratitude continues to live….even if its in the kitchen, standing, laughing while holding a greasy chicken bone.
The retreat continues.

Love, Grace

3 Replies to “Could You Be On Retreat, No Matter What You’re Doing?”

  1. What a sweet and sharing note, thank you so much for writing. I see the wisdom in you as you look and notice for yourself your desire to meet and make friends. Maybe there’s a little step you can take to move towards that…risking connecting with others in an intimate way, and perhaps through that, you’ll connect ever closer to yourself. I love there’s nothing wrong with the childlike celebration of a “treat” and yet it’s also very dear to notice that no outside treat is necessary…if you sit back and feel the silence within, the alive loving quiet, it could be the most wonderful treat. :) Everything comes up in perfect timing, it must be time for you to look since you are inspired and noticing. Love your willingness to see! Much love, Grace

  2. Good Morning Grace! Thank you for your powerful note today. This is my first time responding to one about eating. I ate 16 cookies the other day all ate once. I think I just needed to get that out because I’ve been feeling really badly and a little out of control and a little scared about it. I used to eat sweets like this Often. When i was a teen i went through a binge/purge period and weighed myself multiple times a day. Even carried candy bars in my purse for any time I “needed” them. But I exercise like crazy, and no one could really tell I had a problem because unfortunately, my mom was going through the same thing.Then about 2 1/2 years ago, The age of 35 i changed my eating habits completely with an acupuncturists help. I have cooked every breakfast lunch and dinner for myself since then. All Organic all nourishing. I fell in love with cooking. I’ve noticed occasionally these days I’ve been sitting down with a bag of something like organic popcorn, and eating the whole thing. The whole thing in one sitting! And then the cookies too. Sure they’re gluten-free, and somewhat healthy, but I’m eating the whole thing without stopping. I think your note hit the nail on the head. There is a part of me that just wants to escape the world for a little while… Feel some pleasure, or a Reward. With No alcohol, drugs, no tv, no sex (gulp), no social life, and no money for “shopping therapy” binge eating healthy food feels like the last thing I have to “get high” safely. The irony is, I have an incredibly beautiful and fit healthy body. You would never guess that I eat like that. So part of me has been ignoring it and allowing it for a long time. But you know it makes me realize I’m missing something. The oneness I seek is with the little kid inside me who want something fun… A treat. Going to the movies alone, or sitting in coloring with crayons things that of been suggested to me before, just feel lonely and foolish. Food feels a immediate and comforting. Sometimes when the long weekend of work stretches out ahead of me, and I think of people dating or going to movies or parties were having fun with friends, I derive some sort of fake but great comfort knowing there is something different or sweet or special in the cupboard waiting for me when I get home. The little kid in me doesn’t know how to meet and make friends, she knows how to eat. Whew! That was a lot to write. Thank you for reading. I guess it’s finally up for me after so many years.

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