Eating Peace Evening: The Work of Byron Katie and Emotional Eating. East West Bookstore. $15 you must pre-register. January 11th 7:00-8:30 pm. Sign up here.
The agony of not getting eating, diet or the body quite right is a huge struggle.
Doing lots of things in a compulsive way is a struggle. Spending, working, wanting a relationship, sex, the drive for perfect health, more, more, more, craving for something different, thinking.
The eat-guilt-punishment cycle is very compelling, and very, very painful.
I’ll never forget the way it was for me, even though its been years since I binge ate or forced myself to throw up, or fasted or dieted severely.
All those times I drove through city streets in the dark, entering drive-through fast-food places and ordering. Eating with one hand, driving with the other, moving on to the next place, trying to think of where I could go and what I could eat next. Desperate. Having piles of wrapper and garbage on the passenger seat of the car.
Those strange eating times are long over, but I still remember how much I suffered.
So much is happening in compulsive activity: mind, body, feelings, spirit.
I had no idea how to be conscious or wake up out of that terrible trance. Fortunately, I asked for help.
And fortunately, several of the key people I consulted knew to help me question and change my mind, make peace with my true feelings, and learn how to love instead of freak out.
I learned, that without inquiring into what I’m thinking and believing about food, eating and really everything I’m interacting with….
….I will not see why I’m moved to eat (or any less-than-helpful compulsive activity). I’ll remain blind.
If I ignore what I’m thinking and believing, and NEVER question if it’s true, I’ll feel aggressive, angry even, and like moving fast.
Speed makes it so I don’t have to stop….and feel the grief or angst. Speed makes things run together, or theoretically get dropped and left behind.
I used to eat so fast, it was as if it was the last food on earth and I was starving to death.
The thing is, whatever emotion or fear I ran away from and rushed ahead of never left me alone.
Whatever’s unfinished or unresolved will chase after you, until you hear it, look at it, be with it, see it, feel it, explore it, accept it. You won’t quit eating until you can relax, and inquire, about what is really true.
Without inquiry, or slowing down, here’s what the usual foggy, weird, confusing addition/craving cycle looks like:
- I feel uncomfortable with being here, in reality
- something isn’t safe, something is disappointing, something hurts, something’s boring
- I want to get away from this disturbing moment
- I’m against the thing that hurt me, I’m against reality for including something disturbing
- my mind says “I know. You enjoy eating, remember?” (Your mind might suggest a sexual encounter, a drink of alcohol, a cigarette, drugs, talking to someone you know, quitting your job, moving, buying something)
- pictures arise of food, various kinds of foods and where they might be found
- mind says “yes, that’s it….go find it, get it, experience it”
- body takes action, you move towards the perceived pleasure
- you no longer think about the disturbance
- maybe a thought enters “you shouldn’t eat, though…remember?!”
- a battle begins
- the energy grows even bigger, fighting to get to pleasure, to relief, to relaxation, to escape
- the craving wins….too big, too desirable, I want this battle over
- you acquire the thing (in this case, food) and you eat
- you feel bad
- you feel guilty, weak, unable to use your will to prevent eating compulsively
- your mind turns its attention to you and what a s*&# person you are and attacks you for doing the very thing it suggested awhile ago
- you need to be punished in order to come back to solid or neutral ground (you think), to pay
- you over-exercise, criticize yourself, clean, stress, push, renew your vow to stay away, resist, create a new “plan of attack”
- you hold it together, perhaps very disciplined for awhile
- something disturbs you in reality
- see #1
How do we actually interrupt this cycle?
It feels almost impossible, but it’s not.
The powerful way to interrupt this difficult cycle is to actually question what you oppose about reality when it’s threatening, hurting or boring you.
The person who rubbed you the wrong way. Your work life. Your boss. Your house. Your family of origin. Your thoughts about food itself. Your body and weight. All the events and situations you’ve ever experienced that have hurt, disturbed or annoyed you about reality, about life.
Now, if this sounds like a lot of work….is that actually true? (The first powerful question to ask using inquiry).
Isn’t overeating or being rigid about food a lot of work? All the energy, money, time and self-hatred it fills your life with….isn’t that overwhelming?
So may as well try this other approach, right?
1) Question your stressful thoughts
2) Notice love, feel pleasure, enjoy yourself more
How do you actually DO this inquiry thing?
The Work requires writing down your stressful beliefs, first. You need to see what you’re thinking, no matter how dumb, shameful or immature the thoughts are.
When it comes to food and eating, I encourage people to keep a notebook and write down their stressful stories. What frightened you, right before you thought about eating something? What bored you, right before you thought about eating something? What angered you, what troubled you, what were you thinking?
If you’ve had enough food to eat, but find yourself craving more….you can start with this simple thought:
“I need to eat more food in order to be happy.”
Now, let’s question it. These questions become a part of your life, bringing you relaxation and laughter instead of being ruled by a stressful belief. It’s so much easier to question thoughts, rather than act like they’re 100% true all day long!
First question: Is it true? Is it true you need to eat more food in order to be happy? Or to eat THAT special food, the one that causes problems when you eat it physically?
Can you absolutely know this is true you’ll be happy if you taste it and eat it?
How do you react when you think the thought “I need to eat more food”?
How I used to react? I ate. I thought I couldn’t stand what was happening in my mind, in my present moment. I wanted to shift Uncomfortable Reality through eating sweet things, buttery things, things that weren’t “allowed”.
So who would you be without this thought that you need to eat more in order to be happy? Who would you be if you couldn’t have that thought enter your mind?
You might notice what you’re troubled by that isn’t food.
Maybe without the belief you need to eat more, you’re thrown back into the present moment and noticing how you’re not very fond of it, how you feel it could use some improvement, or how it feels frightening or uncomfortable.
But without the belief I need to eat in order to improve things or feel happier….
….I rest here. I might have strong feelings, but I don’t have the belief I need to eat more food to fix them.
I notice the food I’ve already eaten. I’m more aware of what my stomach and my body need, instead of “thinking” about what’s right or wrong in my head.
Without the belief I need food (or whatever else you move towards) in order to produce happiness….
….I’m free to Stop Eating.
I’m free to wait, to hold still, to enjoy this moment, to notice the disturbance I was afraid of before has actually passed, without me even trying to get rid of it.
Turning the thought around: I do not need to eat more food in order to be happy. I need to eat less food to be happy. I need to do The Work more in order to be happy. I need to take in and consume and really see my thinking in order to be happy, not eat more. I need to take in more of reality and life, instead of rejecting it, in order to be happy. I need more happiness to be happy (not more food).
I need to take in more of myself, all of myself, in order to be happy….rather than resisting what is, where I am, who I am.
This work is not easy. As Byron Katie says….that’s why it’s called “The Work”.
If you long for this freedom in your life, come to retreat to get the feel for what it’s like to live 3.5 days focusing on seeing more of who you really are. The Eating Peace Retreat in Seattle is a powerful time to sink into this work, be peaceful with food and eating, and learn what’s going on inside of you that creates eating battles, with the support of my guidance 12 hours a day (yes, even during meals).
To join the Eating Peace Retreat Jan 19-22. sign up here. Two spots left. You will leave knowing and remembering what to do with compulsive moments, and how to relate to food and eating and your own body in a peaceful way.
Much love and peace,
P.S. If you want an introduction, come to the Eating Peace eveningat East West Books on Weds Jan. 11th.