I am not home–how do YOU react?

Something about fall. Crisp. Fresh. Orange.

The beginning of the end. Nature is decaying and going dark for the winter. Leaves fall, the sky looks gray, the sun shines far less (where I live).

I love going on retreat at this time of year, and taking the precious time to sink into inquiry.

I’ve experienced very deeply and sincerely that when my relationship to reality actually changes through this work, my movement in the world changes, and the outcomes I experience actually wind up changing, naturally.

  • half-day Living Turnarounds Deep Divers retreat October 14th from 2-6 pm ($50)
  • October 17th evening through October 21st morning, autumn retreat. We have one room left for anyone wanting to stay at a reduced fee onsite at the beautiful retreat house, but commuters also welcome.
  • December 6-9 a winter retreat in the woods of Breitenbush Thursday evening through Sunday morning.

The other day, I was reflecting on one of my first most terrible, dreadful “loneliness” stories.

I was going to share this story with only the Eating Peace mailing list, but I had the thought you might like to reflect on the very same story….even if you have never had a single moment of trouble with food, eating or weight.

The “I Am Lonely” story.

I am not connected, I am abandoned, I am alone, I am not safe.

I AM NOT HOME.

This story is incredibly stressful.

When I believed it was the truth, what did I do?

I isolated, I tried to hold back tears, I slept a lot or lay in my bed…and I ate.

This is a truly powerful story to question. So let’s do it today (and you’re welcome to watch my live youtube on this right here).

I am not home.

Is it true?

No.

When I think about this right now, today, I can still find the voice that wonders where home is….that isn’t so sure it’s here, now. But I really can’t know that voice is accurate.

The thought comes in “where else would home be, if not here?”

I can really see it’s not True.

But how do you react when you think it is?

Doubt enters my heart, and I feel it in my body. I believe I won’t be safe quite soon, and I’m not emotionally safe now. I can’t relax. I want to go home, like a little kid saying “where’s my mommy?”

And if you watch my story I shared on youtube, you’ll know that the way I reacted to this belief “I am not home” is that I ate.

I ate and ate and ate and stuffed and filled myself. I remember I knew how to say in French, “J’ai manger trop”.

“I ate too much!”

I said this many times to my student leader on my foreign exchange program who was probably about 24 and seemed so old and wise and capable. I remember her saying back to me “you’ve said that a lot!”

Ugh.

I’ve sat with many people in this stressful belief. Some people react by hunting for the perfect mate. Some people buy clothes and go shopping and try to enhance their environment with a feeling of “home”. Some people watch TV or movies, or join a ton of groups, or fill their time with way too many tasks.

Just watch, if you’ve held this belief that you are not ultimately at home, how stressful it can be.

I notice that I’ve felt source, reality, universe, God, were very far away somewhere and not listening to me. (I notice it makes no sense at all, really, but the images are of distance, outer space, being cut-off, feeling desperately sad).

Now….who would you be without this belief you aren’t home?

I instantly notice a sense of relief or wonder about this moment. It’s quiet, yet I can hear a lot of sounds–crows and eagles outside, a group passing by on bikes calling to each other, wind chimes on the front porch, a loud motor from the busy street in the distance.

But I suppose it would be fine if suddenly I was deaf.

And what would this moment be like without sight, without the belief you aren’t home?

I find there’s a trust present that I didn’t feel before. Something kind. I’m not assuming darkness or blackness means aloneness or separation.

Turning the thought around: what if you are connected? What if you are home?

I am connected, I am found, I am surrounded, I am safe.

Was that actually true for me at that time so long ago when I shared my story of being so far away in another country?

Yes.

I had a group leader, I had adults who had welcomed me into their home to spend time with their family for the entire summer, I sang all summer with my friends in 3-part harmony during our bike ride adventure through France, I felt joy at the beauty I witnessed of landscapes and castles and camping in barns on hay, I learned that I didn’t need my parents or family around in order to be happy.

I also learned that something in me felt terrified and reached for food for relief, escape and comfort. I lost some of my innocence of childhood and discovered I had something vital to contend with—my inner soul’s desire to connect with other humans honestly (instead of food).

It was not easy.

I am still practicing and learning the living turnaround: I am home.

But what I can see is when I do not believe that I’m not home and there’s no hope in returning home, I do not eat wildly and desperately.

I notice a need to articulate my feelings and speak them. I ask for support and put myself in environments where I will receive it. I connect with other people–including all the clients and people who appear for groups–and we do this work, together.

I feel in this body, and in my consciousness, a sense of now, here, being, open.

Gratitude may appear. Thankful for this chair. Thankful for this tree. Thankful for this mind, these thoughts, these feelings even.

This. Nothing more required.

Geese appear high over us,
pass, and the sky closes. Abandon,
as in love or sleep, holds
them to their way, clear
in the ancient faith: what we need
is here. And we pray, not
for new earth or heaven, but to be
quiet in heart, and in eye,
clear. What we need is here.
~ Wendell Berry

Much love,
Grace
P.S. A few spots left in autumn retreat and half-day living turnarounds group has room for 4 more.

Eating Peace: Two physical sensations worth questioning, for your eating freedom

Have you ever noticed the deep self-criticism (or self-pride) you might feel because you’re full, or you’re hungry?

Fullness and hunger are two states of physical sensation when it comes to eating and the body.

Some of us who have pushed the boundaries super far on these conditions have felt the pain….of both extremely stuffed with food, or extremely hungry for food.

We all know we’d like to avoid either extreme. It’s natural to want to be somewhere more in the middle, and more relaxed. If it was easy to simply remain in the middle, without swinging to extremes, we would.

Something about this isn’t easy, when it gets thrown off balance.

One way you can find some insights on your own beliefs about these states of sensation, is to judge them relentlessly. See what you really believe about yourself when you’re super hungry, or super full (or about anyone else when they are).

What does fullness mean about you, as a person? (It’s often really horrible, but sometimes good, I know).

What does hunger mean about you, as a person? (Also horrible, but sometimes good, for other reasons).

When you identify your most painful thoughts about either one of these conditions, you might find some surprising beliefs come forward into awareness.

The good news, is you can then question these thoughts using The Work of Byron Katie.

Is it true, for example, that you’re “good” when you’re hungry, and “bad” when you’re full?

Really consider it. I used to “know” it wasn’t true, but I’d act completely like it was, and something believed it at a very deep level.

Who would you be without your story, your judgment, your assessment, your belief?

There’s great freedom in wondering who you’d be without your story of hunger and fullness. You might get to experience these sensations like you’re feeling them for the very first time. Like they are sacred, interesting messages, worthy of paying attention to….over the mind’s thoughts to ignore them.

Much love,

Grace

Eating Peace: which comes first…hating yourself, or eating?

Many years ago, my eating wars grew so heavy and awful, I dropped out of college.

I actually shifted gears entirely, and began to do what was critical for my own well-being. Researching, attempting to understand, learning how to be honest and intimate with other people and with myself (it took awhile of practice), and questioning my beliefs

One of the most powerful beliefs I had?

I’m a terrible person, worthy of hatred.

I know that sounds strong, but it was that intense. I was horribly self-critical. I could do nothing right, especially when it came to food, eating, exercising and having a worthy body.

Later, I realized, the whole cycle of self-hatred and eating were intimately woven together.

I ate, so I would hate myself, so I would eat to soothe or have a small crumb of relief or pleasure, which would turn into more and more, so I would hate myself and starve and punish myself for the binge.

Nothing ever seemed peaceful or balanced when it came to eating.

Being in a hotel room reminded me of a night with myself long ago, in a hotel room, the night I dropped out of college.

Here’s what it was like for me, along with my biggest suggestion (stop hating yourself and start wondering what’s going on in a more kind, loving way):

M

Eating Peace: You need a plan…but are you sure you need THAT kind of plan?

It can feel like such a relief to know what to expect.

Perhaps you’re about to visit a new country, and you’ve read tons of books and talked to many people about how to navigate and have the best time when you’re there.

Planning can be fun.

But are you planning, organizing, analyzing, gathering data, or mapping things out so you can Not Be Scared?

I used to notice that going on a diet (the plan to do it, at least) would provide some relief for sure. I’ll get this thing under control. I’ll handle, or manage, this situation and no longer be whacko when it comes to food.

This can happen with far more than only food and eating issues.

I’ll get this particular thing together and squared away, and I’ll be OK. I don’t care if I suffer, or if it hurts. I’ll start x and stop y.

But what if you could relax with not knowing what’s next, or what will happen tomorrow, or how this whole thing unfolds? What if you could come back to right now, today, and see if what you’re looking for….or even relief, peace, quiet, gentleness, and love are all here in this moment.

Without having to know anything about what’s going on tomorrow.

Here I share what it’s like to inquire into the stressful thought “I need to know….”

Eating Peace: Will your eating cause disease or early death? Are you sure?

Lack of eating peace comes along with more places than trying to be thin, have you noticed?

Sometimes, people experience great stress with eating that has nothing to do with thinness….but instead contains anxiety about perfect health, or longevity, or cancer prevention.

It’s no way to live, with such stress about certain foods, and the dictate to eat broccoli constantly, so you’re safe, and healthy!

(Although I do love broccoli, but let’s not get carried away).

Today, I offer you an interesting exercise that you might think is taking things a little too far: looking at the worst that could happen.

What is it (in your opinion)?

What are you most afraid of?

What pictures come to mind when you believe you need to prevent that future dreadful image of The Worst?

Watch here, and let me know how it goes to see who you’d be without your stressful story of eating and health.

By the way, I mention a Judge Your Neighbor worksheet in this video. You can download one for yourself right HERE.

Much love, Grace

What if you dropped the thought you need to lose weight (GASP)!?

If you live far away or can’t attend this in-person workshop, I’ve had lots of requests for an online mini-retreat in Eating Peace. These are generally a modest fee, and 3 hours online (audio only). If you’ve never done something online for 3 hours….you’ll probably be amazed at how the time flies. You can set it up for yourself from your own home and create uninterrupted time for yourself.

I’m taking a poll for your favorite option. Head HERE if you’d like to vote.

One of the biggest, grandest, big-behemoth stressful thoughts that lead to stressful eating?

I NEED TO LOSE WEIGHT!!!!

This can be a constant thought, returning every time you gain weight or are at your “highest” weight or on the upside of the roller coaster ride, or when you see yourself in the mirror randomly and you normally don’t even think this thought.

It’s very stressful.

The thing is, we think we NEED this thought in order to be inspired or motivated to be thin. We think we have to be aggressive and intense with our minds.

How could we possibly give up this thought? How could we give up the thought we need to fix something, anything…whether weight or some kind of behavior around health and the body. I need to exercise, I need to eat healthy, I need to read every label, I need to do it right, I absolutely must appear “thin”.

It’s true! It’s true!

But what if you allowed that thought to settle down a moment and you didn’t have it?

What many people find, is a little more to look at.

Wow…what if I gave this up? Then what? I notice I still want to be more balanced, more peaceful with eating and food and this body.

What if it’s my thinking that needs to lose weight….especially about this whole weight loss thing?

If I had taken weight loss and thinness less seriously when I was 8 years old (the first time I was alarmed that I might be too fat) I might not have even moved in the direction I moved.

I may not have even developed an eating disorder or a yo-yo eating plan, or starvation vs stuffed. Although, I am now incredibly and deeply grateful for having that disorder because it was so extreme, it brought me to my knees which ultimately was an incredible give of letting go of control.

What a painful story it is to need to lose weight….but if you find yourself thinking it, you might begin to wonder why you have it so strongly?

What would you have, if you had this lower weight? What would it give you? What is your identity saying is required, for happiness?

If you were given the choice to have peaceful, simple, beautiful, loving eating for the rest of your life….with zero weight loss….would you take it?

If you say “no” then you might want to dig a little deeper into why you believe you need to keep this suffering. Just saying.

Much love, Grace

Eating Peace: Feel More, Eat Less. Stop being so mean to your feelings.

Everyone’s noticed how uncomfortable painful feelings can be.

Irritation, anger, rage, despair, sadness, embarrassment, worry, anxiety, terror.

The thing is, if you hate feeling any of these feelings, you may do anything….like I used to do….NOT to feel them.

Such as eat. When not hungry.

Or figure out whatever will alter your mood, change the channel, reboot.

We think of these compulsive activities as the quick, “easy” way. Using a behavior or substance to refocus the mind and get away from that other dreadful feeling.

But what if it’s actually the harder way, in the end?

Instead, I could sit with the feelings and not only express them, but find out what I was thinking that produced them in the first place, and look at it deeply, closely.

If this isn’t about destroying, crushing, suppressing, changing or fixing any feelings….

….but allowing them to be as they are….

….maybe we’d even feel appreciation for the full range of feelings in this life.

And not try to make any of them go away. The good, the bad, the ugly, the beautiful, the heart-breaking, the heart-mending.

Who would you be without your stressful thoughts about your feelings?

For me, I wouldn’t be eating.

 

Eating Peace: Shame Keeps You Stuck…..And Hungry

We all know shame doesn’t feel so good.

In fact, it feels so sickening sometimes, we’d rather die, or dissolve into the floor, or go live on another planet.

The thing is, when you focus on your shameful self, your dreadful act, the horrible way you eat….

….you miss some exceptionally important information about why, and how, this strange way you ate came to happen.

What was going on before you had the thought “I know, I think I’ll go eat something, that’s it!”

How did that process occur? Why do you think it occurred? (And no, the answer is not “because I’m an idiot” or “because I can’t do it right”).

Condemning yourself and beating yourself to a pulp is what leads people often to a violent approach to solving their eating problems. Training regiment, torturous exercise, alarm at 6 am to hit the gym, eating exact amounts of food, weighed and measured and documented and counted with many foods left off the menu, weighing yourself with a scale, measuring body parts with measuring tape.

I repeat often there’s nothing wrong with a food and diet and exercise plan. But they rarely work long-term. They rarely offer permanent peace and satisfaction. They fix the symptom without addressing the underlying cravings and hungers that have nothing to do with food.

At least that’s what happened for me. Thank goodness I couldn’t ever stay on a food plan or diet for longer than a few hours. Something inside of me was determined to get to the bottom of the issue, to see myself and know myself from the inside out, and to end the struggle.

Anyone, including you, can do this.

You don’t need to take vows and oaths and make promises never to eat that way again (or do any other troubling activity you get pulled towards to cope with your thoughts and feelings).

When you identify what you’re thinking and feeling, without shame and self-hatred, and inquire with kindness and self-compassion….

….eating off-balance is no longer necessary.

If you notice shame and meanness arise towards yourself because of the way you’ve eaten….stop. Ask what else is going on, besides failure to eat peacefully?

Get to know the wonder of YOU. It’s not as bad as you think!

Eating Peace: Who would you be without the story of fat?

Eating Peace Process has just begun. If you want to join, you still can. You’d watch the first presentation (one-hour) and begin the powerful written exercises. You’d start the practices that provide structure, like a diet and exercise program but for the MIND (not for the usual yada yada eat this, weigh that). The first practice is to sit in silence 5 minutes day. Then, those who can will jump on the first Thursday inquiry call which is tomorrow 1/19 at 8:30 am Pacific Time.

The cornerstone of the program is….self-inquiry. We do The Work of Byron Katie, questioning painful beliefs about eating, food, your body, all bodies….and following the breadcrumbs (literally) to OTHER stressful beliefs we have about life, thinking, feelings, satisfaction, fulfillment, power, and control.

Such an adventure. Read about it here and join soon, before we’re too far underway for you to catch up.

And even if you never, ever join a formal group program like Eating Peace Process….you can use you own imagination to do the following exercise, which is part of The Work.

It goes like this.

Imagine….who would you be, right in any situation where you’ve typically had trouble with food and eating, with friends, alone, at home, at work, at a restaurant…

….Who would you be without your beliefs about being fat? Without your negative or stressful beliefs about eating? Without your thoughts about what you can’t do in your life? Without your fearful thoughts about why you need to be careful?

Who would you be if you loved every feeling you had, and didn’t fight your thoughts, but allowed everything, including you, to be as it is?

The key is to only wonder who you’d be without ONE thought at a time, otherwise it’s too much to hold in the mind all together, at least I find.

What would you be like, in the presence of food, if you let yourself be honest, powerful, clear?

You can use your imagination and find it, feel it. See what happens.

Much love, Grace

You’re too “x” (fat, ugly, tall, etc)…what does it mean about you? About the world?

One of my favorite Byron Katie prompts or questions to help dig down into The Work is:

WHAT DO YOU THINK IT MEANS?

The “it” of course, is your stressful belief.

What does it mean, if it’s true? What do you think it means about you, or about other people (or that one other person you’re concerned about)?

What are all the meanings you give this thought?

This question comes in especially handy if you think something stressful is a solid fact, not open to interpretation.

Some examples:

I am going to die. My car tire went flat. I tore my hamstring. The carpet needs vacuuming. I weigh 500 pounds. It’s raining. I have $10.19. I got married. I moved to a cottage. My husband went to live in Timbuktu. She has cancer. 

If you notice something seems like an irrefutable fact, a simple fact, a thought you can’t argue with….

….and yet you notice you feel stress or pain when you think it or write it….

….it may be time to answer that question about what you think it means, if this is 100% true?

Last night I got to spend a beautiful evening at a local bookstore where I live called East West Books.

Inquirers both familiar and brand new to me came to gather and do their work about food, eating and body image.

Several of them shared their brilliantly honest worksheets about their weight, the food they feel pulled to eat, a body part they hate seeing in the mirror.

The work on the thoughts brought forward was quite incredible.

But I especially loved one woman’s thoughts about having too much weight on her body.

“I am too fat”. 

And what do you think it means about you, about other people, about your life?

Deep breath.

Ouch. Because here’s what she said, and it reminded me of my own mind attacking itself for what it thought was true.

It means I am guilty, I am wrong, my life isn’t good, I’m not happy, I can’t wear fun clothes, I can’t be seen on the beach (another inquirer quietly uttered the word “whale” about his own appearance in a bathing suit), I can’t stop worrying and thinking about food.

For some others, being heavy or assuming you’re fat means….

….no one will love you. People will criticize you. No one will be attracted to you or date you. People will think you’re lazy, or greedy.

One thing I suggest is finding a moment in time where you first learned this thought that you are indeed too heavy.

Who did you hear it from?

Because you didn’t have the belief when you were born, that’s for sure.

Where’s your proof that fatness or heaviness or something-wrong-with-this-body is actually the case here?

(If you have a vivid image, like someone else in the group last night did, of mom saying “you are too big to have stripes that circle your body, you need vertical stripes only!” at age 7, then you might have a perfectly clear moment for a situation to investigate with The Work).

When you write down what you’re thinking, the thoughts are caught on paper, not zipping out of the air around the corner.

You’re too ____. (In this case, fat).

Is it true?

No.

How do you react when you believe this thought?

Horrible. Heavy. Despairing. So I go eat to get some sweetness and feel better.

Who would you be without this story of “I am _____” (fat, thin, tall, short, old, young, smart, dumb, sick, stupid…..and on an on, you pick your most frequent flyer).

Who would you be without the story of “I am too fat”?

Going about my business. Playing more. Doing art. Spending time with friends. The woman voicing The Work for everyone present last night said “I’d probably know a lot more people”.

Turning the thought around: I am NOT too fat. My THINKING is too fat.

Yes. My thoughts are heavy, dense, thick like flies surrounding the body, buzzing and yelling at it all the time. My thoughts are big, extra, overloaded, especially when it comes to the body. They’re focused on the body, not life, not expanding in other areas besides the body!

With the thought? Pain and suffering.

Without the thought? Light, free, living life.

You’re either believing your thoughts, or questioning them….no other choice.” ~ Byron Katie

It may be quite disturbing at first to write down such a thought as “I am too fat”. It can be frustrating to even think about it all over again, and realize, as you write, how much you HATE this problem that’s been here since childhood.

But would you rather write down your thoughts and then take them one by one through the inquiry process known as The Work (it is work, after all) or keep on believing them?

Just saying.

If you’re twisted up about this topic in any way, if you’ve found yourself eating from one end of the refrigerator to the other, if you’re wondering more deeply about the connection between your weight or your eating and your thoughts….

….and accessing peace with eating, your body, food….

….the Eating Peace Process Online begins on Saturday.

Everyone enrolled receives their first writing exercise on Saturday and the first “lesson” for looking at the food, eating, body, mind. Our first calls are Tuesday 1/17 at 5:30 pm, and Thursday 1/19 8:30 am. If you’re in the program, you can come to one or both (everything’s recorded).

I can’t wait to share the practices and exercises that worked best for me in my own healing journey, so you can choose what to take into yours.

And the most important practice of all, the cornerstone of the Eating Peace Program…..The Work of Byron Katie.

Read in detail about it here. Join me if it’s time.

Much love,

Grace