Meditation Mondays: Upgrade Eating Habits
Food affects everyone differently. Our relationship to it can be deemed healthy, unhealthy, neurotic, etc. The behaviors and habits surrounding what we eat, how we eat, how we feel about what we eat before, during, and after can be so multi-faceted, complicated, and yes, emotional. This stems from how people in our lives behave around food, passed down beliefs from previous generations, experiences in childhood, and of course, the projections society, corporations, and professionals (medical or not) place on us for how we're "supposed" to look or what we're "supposed" to eat. Even the way various ingredients break down in our bodies has a direct effect on our overall state of mind.
Because what we eat and how we eat has a direct correlation to the way our bodies function and look, food can create a lot of drama and trauma. If what we're putting into our bodies is mostly made of artificial or heavily processed ingredients or sugar, we'll lack energy and focus, we'll accelerate the aging process, our skin may look dull, we may gain weight, we're moodier, we're more susceptible to getting sick whether that’s a cold or something more serious, and we're more easily stressed out. When our energy is zapped or we're in a food haze we don't have the capacity to make good choices or take right action in our lives, which also causes stress. And then guess what happens when we're stressed...we compulsively reach for the less healthy food choices and we tend to over consume in a big way.
Have you ever felt overwhelmed or stressed, only to find yourself in the kitchen...several empty bags or boxes of food later having a moment of awareness, not remembering actually eating any of it? This is an issue among both men and women although more common with women. Almost every woman I know, including myself, has suffered from compulsive, disordered eating for most of their lives.
We not only abuse our bodies with the food (over consumption, deprivation, obsession), but we mentally and psychologically abuse ourselves. And this isn't only in the area of food; we all have the tendency to rag on ourselves for the things we're doing that we think we're not supposed to do, and all we're not doing that we should be doing…we can't ever seem to get it "right" no matter what. Let's think about that for a second…how can we make lasting positive change in our lives if nothing we do is ever going to be good enough in our own eyes?
For me, it's taken many years of consistent inner work, education, and discipline in my healing practice; I've experienced many ups, downs, relapses, successes, failures, I've used humor, and so much letting go, to get to what I now believe is a very healthy relationship with food and body (I'll probably even write a book about it one day); ultimately it all comes down to how you want to treat yourself. If your intention is to be more loving and to take care of the body you've been given then you're leaps ahead. None of this has to be perfect. Perfect doesn't exist. And eating for health, clarity, energy, radiance, better brain function, pleasure and enjoyment shouldn’t have to be forced...it should come with ease. So how do we get there?
As I touched on in a previous post about healing addictive patterns and upgrading behaviors, we're not really going to get the results we wish for if we're "white knuckling" and putting excessive pressure on ourselves to change. For most, lasting change doesn’t work that way and usually when we use methods of this nature, while we may find short term success, we eventually wind up reverting to the previous behavior, sometimes even on a more massive scale. This is basically our rebellious subconscious self saying, "don't tell me what to do!" The way we really heal and improve is by reprogramming brain patterns, subconscious thoughts, and false beliefs so we're able to feel acceptance and freedom surrounding our choices, whether that’s around food or anything else.
It's important we set ourselves up for victory, not failure. Spend more time focused on the small right actions rather than self judgement. Remember, there is nothing wrong with you and the changes you want to make in your life should come from a place of love and wanting to be your best self. Simply in being more aware of habits, patterns, triggers, and feelings around what we eat and why, is a massive step in the right direction. In any area of self improvement, like eating healthy, or meditation, we can't reap the benefits unless we actually give it a try, and just like any practice, the more consistent we are, the easier and more natural it becomes. This week's meditation, is a great little hack that I've used, originally taught by Yogi Bhajan, and is a great way to reset habits around what you're eating (in a more relaxed and loving way) by balancing your brain hemisphere's "self depriving factors." It is also said to be very good for your body if you've had eating disorders. You can do this anywhere or anytime and it's especially useful if you can catch yourself either before or during a compulsive or overeating moment. Try it every day for 40 days if you're feeling challenged in this area; even if you have no issues around food this mediation will help you feel calm in any situation.
Either sit on the floor in a cross legged position (easy pose) or if that's uncomfortable for you simply sit in a chair with both feet on the floor and straighten your spine. Close your eyes and focus up between your brows (third eye point, pineal gland). Close your right nostril with your right thumb. Inhale deeply as much as you can through your left nostril and hold your breath until you no longer comfortably can. Then exhale through the left nostril and hold your breath out for the same amount of time you held it in (you may find it helpful to count in your head). Continue this cycle through the left nostril for 3 to 11 minutes. To end: inhale, exhale, and relax.
*Don't overemphasize the breathing - a nice slow deep breath is all you need - you shouldn’t put pressure on the diaphragm.
With Love & Gratitude,
"Self-acceptance is an invitation to stop trying to change yourself into the person you wish to be, long enough to find out who you really are." -Robert Holden