Each of us is a unique point of light, a bright, shining moment within the eternal life force. Zen, our meditative state, is just as individualistic. Uniqueness is what we carry into our every day.
In the meditative state, we observe. Sometimes, thoughts come and go but other times, stillness suffices. In bringing Zen into our every day, we emulate the meditative state, experiencing every moment only to let it go.
We experience the physical dimension with and through a physical body, no less unique than our meditative state. Both provide sustenance for the mind-body. In meditation, there is being; in feeding and caring for the body, there is doing. How we nourish our every day presence in life affects how we respond to the events of our lives.
We are offered a multitude of ways to develop a daily meditative practice. As for diet, there are billion-dollar industries offering nutrition through a series of steps, a number of days, eliminating certain foods altogether.
Just as there is no one way to meditate, neither is there one diet or food plan for everyone. Developing a diet unique to the mind-body’s nutritional requirements is as easy as walking through a minefield.
It seems safest to nibble one’s way in all the while clinging to what is sweetest. In clinging to food that comforts, it is difficult to discover our mind-body’s unique nutritional requirements.
In the meditative state, one sits with the dark and light wolves of emotion, feeding or denying neither but rather, observing both so there is no separation of the two. Observation eliminates competition.
This is not as easy to do with food cravings—at times it is impossible–the principle is the same, however. Clinging to foods that momentarily comfort us rather than nurture our mind-body, is like keeping our light and dark wolves in constant competition.
Our thinking becomes dualistic, either/or. We eat for comfort, unaware of our true hunger as we deny our body’s nutritional needs. Rather than feeding our mind-body, we are feeding a craving, which is only a thought, an ever empty one at that.
Feeding a craving is akin to feeding the ego. No comfort is possible for the ego always wants more. In Buddhism, such comfort food eating is a form of shenpa, often translated as “attachment.”
Shenpa is in all areas of life for old behaviors die hard, if they die at all. Pema Chodron refers to shenpa as “biting the hook.” As comfort food eating has been a lifelong issue for me, I prefer this translation.
Whether or not we bite the hook is not the issue— it is human nature that we will—it is in the awareness of our attachment that we spit out the hook and begin anew. Each moment offers that opportunity.
This has certainly been true for me in my comfort food sessions, which are infrequent but still happen. There are no more binges. Honestly, I do not know that I would survive one.
Because these comfort food moments are much fewer and far between, my mind-body is not as forgiving. I can feel it struggle with food that does not support its nutritional needs.
There is a sense of frustration in processing empty calories that offer sluggish and stiff body movement, muddled thinking, zigzagging emotions ranging from euphoria to the blues.
Overall, there is fatigue, enough to scare me into thinking the mind-body might want to quit. But that is only my attaching to a thought that has not been fed as it soars on empty emotion.
To live, thrive, is the nature of the mind-body–all unique points of human light coming together as one–to experience life in the physical dimension, including biting the hook.
10 thoughts on “Getting Hooked and Giving It Up”
Timely for me as I’m in the middle of a comfort food session myself… well, hopefully your post will help me be more toward the end of it. Your words and the rhythm of the sentences and paragraphs are soothing and make me want to take care of my body instead of the cravings. Interesting to note that on the Whole30 I had no cravings.
You know, Cynthia, I’m not surprised that you had no cravings on the Whole 30. As you know, over the last six years I have put together a diet that supports my body–a lot of trial and error as you can imagine–what you say about cravings is absolutely true. In eating whole foods, I never, and I mean never, have cravings. Ultimately, that is what keeps me eating/drinking the way I do. Finally, anything processed or with preservatives/additives just does not appeal to me. Thanks, Cynthia.
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I copied much of this post into my journal and posted it in Facebook. I needed to be reminded that how I take care of my body affects all other parts of my life. Thank you.
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It is so critical that we remember the mind-body’s nutritional requirements for as you say, it does affect all we do. If we short-change either one, we skew our own results and rarely in our favor. Thanks, Robin!
I had a sloppy joe 2 nites ago at a restaurant and my mind flew back to my childhood, and gushes of happiness washed over me with every bite. I try to live in the present as much as possible, but it can be good to connect with that distant childhood. particularly the good parts.
Such a childhood food memory sounds delightful, Craig! I do have similar but as I mentioned to Adrian, “comforting” myself with food became an escape. It may be a hook that I “bite on” from time to time for the rest of my life. Regardless, each time I learn. Thanks, Craig!
so good 🙂
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Oh, don’t I know it…. 😉
And then there are all the memories connected to food. In my Italian family we ate tongue and tripe, foods many would call dis-gusting, but I never questioned the fact they were delicious, and for me they have the added glow of connecting me to the very happy years of my childhood. I guess I am describing comfort food, but the comfort is coming from something other than sweet starchiness; it is coming from being remembering a safe harbor, remembering who I am.
I agree, the comfort you describe is not the emotional eating I am describing. Years ago, I allowed myself the “comfort” of food when I was sick. Beyond the unhealthy food choices, it became a habit to escape the unpleasantness. The more frequently one escapes the unpleasant, the longer the return to balancing one’s mind-body or at least that has been my experience. Thanks, Adrian.