Lately I’ve been communicating with quite a few people about urges, cravings, judgments and the experience of overeating, worrying about eating, drinking alcohol, spending too much money, over-indulging….
….feeling out of balance.
When you do something that actually hurts either you or someone else, most of us think about it afterwards. It doesn’t feel right. We mull it over, wonder what went on, analyze, consider.
This type of thinking sometimes ALSO doesn’t feel that good.
How did that happen? What’s WRONG with me?
I can’t believe I said that! I can’t believe I ate the whole thing! I can’t believe I smoked a cigarette, after all those months of quitting!
The problem with going over an incident again in your mind, afterwards, is it’s very tempting to take out a knife and stab yourself with it.
Here’s what I mean.
The other day, I was invited to a dinner with several people who are all peeps in this conference I’ve been attending in Arizona.
(I wrote all about it to the people interested in eating issues who are signed up to receive my Eating Peace notes, so I won’t tell the whole story again here).
It was a lively, jam-packed, upscale restaurant, full of voices, clinking glasses, twinkling candle lights. We sat at a big round table for six.
The kind and generous man who invited these friends was treating us all. He ordered all the food. Waiters were attentively moving around the table, bringing hors d’oeuvres, bread, special sauces, then filet mignon, pastas, greens, pork, then a huge table filled with carrot cake, puddings, delectable sweet delicacies. We had huge goblet wine glasses and everyone’s glass was filled constantly.
Strange, strange….for the first time in many years, I think, my stomach hurt badly afterwards. At first I thought it was fullness, but later in the night realized it was digestion trouble, as my stomach hurt even worse. I had also pushed my wine glass away, it suddenly felt like poison.
And then the harsh thoughts in the night….oh boy!
I shouldn’t have eaten that, I lost my presence, something went wrong, I’m stupid.
This is the normal douse of self-criticism most people give themselves after a difficult experience that feels confusing. It doesn’t even have to be about food, or drink, or smoking, or spending….
….you made a mistake. You screwed up. You broke a promise. You lashed out unkindly at someone and said a mean thing.
Killer Mean Voice enters on cue, ripping you to shreds.
Maybe an incident involved others, and you rip them to shreds in your mind as well.
But I knew, with the deeply discouraged feeling I had inside by the time morning came along, some powerful self-inquiry was in order.
The gentle, open-minded kind.
Not the kind that starts berating you, cutting you down, calling you names and screaming at you to fix your behavior NOW, or else.
As I got up after a very bad night’s sleep, I suddenly thought….
….how could it be useful and helpful that I had that experience with the dinner, that my stomach hurt so much? How can I be genuinely curious about that experience, rather than closed and upset?
Immediately, my body relaxed.
I knew what to do.
I asked myself “what do you need, right now in this moment, if you could have just exactly what you most wanted?”
The feeling of cradling myself in my own arms, and rocking myself like a sweet little baby.
I jumped on my bike that I had rented the afternoon before, and rode off for a long ride. I happened to take a route (the whole area was unknown to me) that led me to a canyon with magnificent red rocks, shadows and light, cool dark places and a trail that climbed steeply to the top of a great vista.
Even though I had been riding quite awhile, I followed all the Saturday morning people parking cars and gearing up with backpacks, locked up my bike, drank lots of delicious water from the water fountain, and headed up the trail.
All the while, inside, I allowed my mind to scan for what distracted me, what might have bothered me, what underlying thought or feeling deep inside was going on, that would create a moment where I would actually be uncomfortable physically from the food I ate and wine I sipped?
I had the thought…this is perfect that this happened.
Well, one thing was it reminded me how I used to feel like this regularly. In my twenties my social drinking was always a whole night of staying up talking, and I had terrible binge-episodes (those were always alone).
I felt *HORRIBLE* and yet continued.
(Notice, the mean harsh voice didn’t actually change anything).
But, these experiences set me on a path to understand….to find peace.
As I hiked up the trail, watching the other people all about, surrounded by the beauty, I felt completely present.
I remembered, the inner self in this center has no judgment. It is not afraid, it is not critical, or hateful. It does not care what other people are thinking, it doesn’t care what other people are doing, or saying.
I had been in conference rooms, speaking with strain over very loud music, feeling separated, feeling uncertain about my own life, my thoughts, my direction. Not sure I fit in here.
That’s what had been happening, building. Many “you should do this” and “you shouldn’t do that” were entering my mind. I was believing them.
Who would I be without any of those thoughts?
Who would I be without demands, needing to make the conference I was attending successful (whatever that meant), who would I be without needing to change anything about myself?
I would be being. I would be here. Just here. Nothing more.
Nothing necessary, nothing to add, nothing to subtract.
Who would you be without the thought that you’ve done something wrong, when you’ve done something “off” like eat food that doesn’t feel good?
See if you can find that thought right now….you with no mistakes.
You may be surprised at this one tiny change this can make in your inner world….and then how that changes your outer life as well.
“It is Love that leads us beyond all fear and into the solitude of our being.” ~ Adyashanti
If you have done something uncomfortable for you, simply pause today and notice what you’re thinking that hurts.
It’s not true.
Have you noticed yet?