Thursday, May 7, 2015

Sitting in Awareness

So, who am I underneath all of the control? (This post is related the the previous one.)

When a student comes to see me for the first time, I always explain that there are two paths to take. The path to self improvement, or the path to awakening from the little self. Nobody wants to wake up. And that takes courage to admit. Nobody really knows what's going to happen to them, and everyone is afraid of words like God and spirit and awakening. 

We're happy to meditate and practice yoga and we're happy to chant a mantra, but when it gets down to it, we feel very uncomfortable about talking about God and our life's purpose. And we should be. It's a huge question and it has the possibility to change your life for ever. 

I was looking at my need to exercise, and my need to control my food intake and I was looking at my lifestyle, and I realised that many of my choices are based in a fear of becoming something I didn't want to be. So I have chosen a lifestyle that I hoped would stop me being close minded, fat, unhealthy, bored by life, ungrateful, dishonest and a slave to the dollar.

Being in Catalonia, I noticed that many Catalans describe themselves in terms of 'nots'. That is they are not like the people of the south and they are not like the French and they are not like the Spanish of the centre. I always thought that was peculiar because I'm from Australia and I didn't grow up comparing myself to another country (at least in the 70's and 80's). 

However I see clearly that I have set up a lifestyle dedicated to nots. And food and fatness is one of them. I'm a vegetarian, not necessarily because I am a healthy person or I love vegetables, but because I don't like people killing animals for food in a factory line up. I hate it. So even my number one restriction about food is about being NOT a meat eater. And it continues through so many of my choices.

What am I going to do?

Well, I've banned the scales for one. I will not step foot on a scale for the rest of the year. I'm going to do a little experiment on myself and discover what I really like. Not what I don't like. 

This is not for ever. Just for the rest of the year. I want to know what I like. When I was much younger I read a book by Banana Yoshimoto, Kitchen. There's a passage in it that I have often thought about. The protagonist was used to eating eggs the way her partner ate eggs, and he called her out on it. She discovered that she didn't know what she liked and didn't like. She was easy going and didn't mind. But that was just the surface. The book is about her journey into discovering how she liked her eggs and so much more. 

Good luck to me!

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Fatty, Fat Fat

During the past few days I've had to look closely at some of my belief patterns pertaining to food and body image. I've had to look at my feelings towards being female, fatness and food.  

Mindful Eating Update
My family, my son and partner, have flat out refused to do the mindful eating meditation with me, even once. That's their choice. So, when I put the meditation on, I am alone with my little girl. 

The meditation goes for about 9 minutes. The first two minutes are about relaxing and settling into the senses. I have not been able to get past 30 seconds before I am already putting food into my mouth. I am watching myself, and I feel anxious and tense. Even as the audio says to go slowly, I am speeding up. I have always finished my food within 5 minutes. I can stop before I am stuffed, but I am always full. 

I have been trying to do this meditation without criticism and name calling. But with observation, acceptance, and calm. 


You're not going to like what I have to say. 

I have never liked fat. Fat on me, or fat on anyone else. I'm a fattist. I have associated lack of fat with worthiness. Fat always indicated negative characteristics like greed, laziness, selfishness. I have never been fat, until now. I didn't mind being a bit fat because I had my baby girl as an excuse. I told my family I would be back in shape within 6 months. It's now 18 months, and I am not back in shape. 

I started to get fatter when I was about 14 and I got my period and I started to fill out in the hips. I hated my body changing. I hated the fat on my thighs. I thought my thighs were huge monstrous things. I used to be a runner, and my grandmother told me that if I didn't stop running my legs would get so big that no man would ever be interested in me. 

Fat reminded me of my step mother. I disliked my step mother, a lot. She was tall, blonde and big busted. I saw her as fat. I didn't want to be a woman. Women were weak. Men were strong. It really is that simple. 

I thought I had removed or dealt with these problems from my mind, but the further I go into the mindless eating, the more they rise up in front of me. 

I am not just dealing with eating too much, I am dealing with my relationship to fat and females and issues of power and control. 

Who Had the Power in Your Childhood?

I was talking to Kate this morning, and as I was talking about discipline, she said something that made a lot of sense.  She reminded me that if my father was so controlling, the only way I could maintain some freedom, something a bit wild, was by having a secret relationship to food. 

My father was a a master manipulator. He was the one with the power in our house and he controlled everyone, one way or another. Control is a big issue for all of us, and as I have stopped judging myself as I eat and I have stopped trying to control my weight or worry about my body, I do really feel as if I am losing control over many aspects of my life. I'm even starting to waddle when I walk. 

Since not seeing my father in the last 20 years, in some ways I have become a father to myself. I control myself, I am disciplined and rigid in some issues. My relationship with myself is in many ways a mirrored relationship of my father and myself as a child. And seeing this is huge. It's painful, sad and a huge relief. I thought I had let him go, with forgiveness, but I had carried him with me inside of my head. Not necessarily his belief systems, but many of his values. 

Kate also noticed I was calling the mindless eater names. It seems to be its own entity. But what was nice having Kate to talk about it with me, is she was gentle and curious about this darkness, not judgemental or willing it gone. So even on top of the observation, I could add a little compassion and curiosity to this aspect of myself, it could help it to surface more clearly. 

Discipline or is it Control? 
I'm a disciplined person when it comes to certain things in my life, like exercise. When I have decided to do a thing, like train for a half marathon, or learn pilates, I do it. No excuses. But when does discipline become a need to control? When does it start to impose itself on yourself and others? I have a strong judge archetype. It's often rigid and critical when it's in its shadow side. And again, let's just sit back and watch it. Let it out. Observation and acceptance. 

Who Am I?
When did you first ask yourself this question? Have you ever asked yourself? The first time I seriously asked myself this question I was 21. I still don't know. It really does feel like there are layers upon layers and even though I think I see glimpses of light, there seems to be always another layer to peel off. 

This post is a bit all over the place. I have a lot going on. Bear with me. 

Friday, May 1, 2015

From Compulsion to Compassion

I'm listening frequently to the audio Mindful and Mindless Eating by Robin Maynard-Dobbs and finding it helpful. You can find it on spotify too. 

She says that listening to her CD offers the possibility to move from 'judgement to just noticing, from automatic to aware, from compulsion to compassion.' 

And that's where I'm at. This movement from the mindless to the mindful.

I have to admit that I have always thought of myself as quite mindful and responsible. I'm surprised to discover this space in my day where I'm just not present. 

Day to day. Let's go.