Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Mental Energy and Peace with Food

Life is so interesting isn't it? If you've been reading lately you know I'm on a self discovery binge. It's so fascinating to me that we can know ourselves, and then see ourselves as mysterious. So much changes and evolves.

I had a conversation with someone yesterday that reminded me, not everyone is like this. Some people know themselves from an early age, and stay that self throughout their lifetime. How wonderful for that person, and how wonderful for me to be me. I'm happy with my changing, growing self. And also happy for that unchanging person.

I've had a habit of thinking that says, "This, or that?" "Yes, or no?" When faced with two different choices, my thinking can become polarized. I would have thought myself as more of a gray thinker, and I'm that too. But also this. Something fun to work on. This, or that? Yes.

And then there's that which ails me. It could be anything. Something, or someone, that irritates, disappoints, angers or confuses me. Why is he...? How could she...? Oh, but what about me? I've long understood, since reading Wayne Dyer's Your Erroneous Zones at the tender age of 16, that my feelings come from inside of me. That no other person or situation can cause a feeling to emerge in me. I choose how to respond, however consciously or subconsciously, to any given stimulus.

And yet, I sometimes behave as if I don't know that. Not always, but at times on a kind of auto-pilot that has held me back from more contentment, happiness, joy and, here's the big one, inner peace. If I'm not paying attention, aware, mindfully in the moment, my auto-pilot can get into that, "Yes, or no?" thinking.

What is the other choice? What if I do neither?

Part of this habit stems from being an analyzer. My upbringing allowed for the development of a skill of vigilance, a type of awareness that had to go beyond what was in front of me, that had to predict, guess, analyze. Even when the information was scarce, or, let's face it, wholly unreliable, I still felt forced to make my best guess anyway. A survival mechanism that developed out of an irrational belief that I could, perhaps, keep myself safe. If I can see what isn't here. Know what isn't known.

Ah, so I'm 44 now and not in any danger. Can I start looking at the world with the wondrous, unknowing eyes of a child? I don't know. I love that phrase these days. I don't know. But we shall see, right? Time goes on, days go by, and we shall see. What delight might I find here? What sorrow might break into my day? I don't know, but I will be here to see.

I spent this past weekend deep in thought. And feeling. I attended two day-long workshops. The first was with Byron Katie, who has a model of untangling our negative responses to people and situations that is profoundly simple and powerful. Am I in pain? If so, how have I created this? Only me.

The next day was an Introduction to Vipassana Meditation. When I was in my mid-20's I read Jon Kabat-Zinn's, Wherever You Go, There You Are and also Thich Nhat Hanh's, The Miracle of Mindfulness. I'm sure I read some others, but those made an impression. Looking back, I see how I have quietly worked a mindful awareness into my life ever since then. And like a seed planted that doesn't break ground for many years, I believe all this stems from that.

How could it not, in any case? Aren't we the soil and the leaf?

So you get the idea...I'm knee-deep in this stuff right now. And I feel trickles of joy, of awakening and peace. Moments, like this one right now, in which the limitless nature of my mind and heart fill my chest with an excited energy. I'm so happy to be where I am right now.

And during this time, I've noticed I haven't exercised. I haven't been to the gym, on a run or really anything since returning from my backpacking trip. There's a way in which I recognize this is a "problem" and a way in which it is not. Yesterday, as I was using a gentle encouragement of, "You'll get back to it, Michelle, when the time is right" I had the insight that perhaps I'm using so much energy on this mental stuff, that the physical is needing rest. Ok, perhaps.

And then there's food. Food and I...well, I'll say this in a whisper. Food and I are at peace. I have been eating what I want, when I want, and as much as I want. Turns out, I don't want as much food as I thought I did. I am watching, surprised and skeptical, but trusting myself until there is reason to believe I shouldn't. I weigh myself almost daily, and I'm doing fine. Will this continue? I don't know. But for today, for now, everything is just as it should be.