One of the deepest most agonizing and painful feelings people with eating issues have….is shame.
I’m ashamed of myself for having this experience, for doing this type of eating, for thinking the way I think, for feeling the feelings I feel.
Shame stays alive with secrets, hiding, keeping things to yourself.
I found shame stayed alive through withholding myself, through not saying what seemed true for me.
I wanted to hide the fact that I had eating issues, and even after I was no longer having any “disordered eating” episodes, I STILL wanted to hide my eating history.
Such a disgust around what I had done with food.
The medicine for shame? A first profoundly powerful step is to share what you’re feeling with another human being–an individual, a group, it doesn’t matter–and be willing to enter that lack of safety.
Today I talk about shame, some secrets I wanted to keep hidden…and also answer some questions about the upcoming Eating Peace program. In brief: the program has morphed and changed constantly. Honestly it’s worked brilliantly for some, and not for others.
I’ve been learning for several years how to deliver what has worked for me with having a normal joy of eating and food, instead of suffering around it (as well as my body).
It’s like my own eating peace program is how to share it with you, or really how to share it with my previous version of myself–the one who was so ashamed.
Basically in a nutshell: the newest version of Eating Peace Process will start May 1st.
Participants will begin some practices step by step into their day to study eating, silence, thinking and inquiry (The Work of Byron Katie).
We’ll do only the foundational practices for at least 2 weeks before moving on to more focus on the underlying patterns around compulsion. It’s my desire that everyone feel comfortable, and not so ashamed, when it comes to this eating thing.
Most important of all when it comes to shame, in general?
Identifying what you’ve experienced, done, thought or said that you feel is worthy of shame, and questioning it!
We’ve all done it in order to lose weight, or make some kind of change: Boot Camp, Crack Down, Force, Dictatorship….Violence.
We’ve read 850 books on diets and nutrition. We believe we know what to do.
Maybe there’s something we’ve been missing, though. Something emotional, some beliefs about cravings and food and eating and our bodie, some information and awareness we haven’t been tracking in the mind.
Every time I applied control and force to myself, they persisted.
What if your reaction to control and force is actually a voice for integrity? A voice that’s suggesting somewhere very important you need to examine, or understand?
Who would you be without your story of fear, dread, anger, loneliness, despair? Who would you be without the story that life (including you) can’t be trusted in this moment? Who would you be without a story of out-of-control or must-fix right now?
It doesn’t mean you have to flip to the opposite and become passive, non-active, give up, quit trying.
Curiosity about your cravings might be one of the most interesting, brilliant things you’ve ever done.
One way you can do it is to pause for 60 seconds.
Write what you are mentally concerned with–whatever’s on your mind. Notice, let it be random, it doesn’t have to make sense logically….it’s giving a craving and an imbalance the life it needs to live to become aware of it clearly, and understand it.
P.S. Eating Peace Process, an in-depth program for those of us with eating concerns, will start May 1st. Our focus is ending the repetitive cycle, working with self-inquiry, and finding the dance between what is and what can be, with loving compassion.
Does it help you to identify whether or not you’re addicted to food? Has it worked for you to call yourself a Food Addict or Compulsive Overeater?
This was a question someone asked, and I love what it helps us look at….the definition of addiction itself, and what supports us in ending the suffering.
We all know addiction basically means to be caught in a negative cycle of “having” to use a substance, eat that food, “do” something that relieves pressure or brings some pleasure….
….and that when we do it, it feels briefly good but overall, the whole cycle basically sucks. It has terrible side effects (in the case of eating, feeling bloated, sick, nauseated, frightened, discouraged, guilty, condemning of the self, angry with the body).
It does seem the process we’re calling addiction is whatever happens when we’re “hooked” and we feel like we can’t stop.
But it’s clear that with all the deep studying of whatever we’re calling addiction, it’s profoundly helpful to focus on the cause: difficult feelings, suffering, pain, trauma, anxiety, fear, rejection, betrayal.
What I find most helpful of all is knowing that nothing is permanent. Everything changes. Many people who were once addicted, no longer are.
It doesn’t matter ultimately if you say you are or are not by definition “addicted”. What is most important is noticing.
Watching the movement and energy and thinking that happens in each moment. Feelings, thoughts, memories, urge to bolt.
Who are we without our stressful or negative or fearful thoughts about what we encounter, including our memories?
Allowing them, perhaps, to pass through…and return to where they came from.
P.S. Eating Peace Process, an in-depth program for those of us with eating concerns, will start May 1st. Our focus is ending the repetitive cycle, with loving compassion.
The first time I ever decided I had a “problem” with my body weight, I was 14.
The usual solution is to follow a diet and exercise program. Right?
I want to weigh less, so I’ll change the food itself and I’ll exercise more. “So simple” we say.
It’s a math problem!
We’ve all heard over and over how food plans and dieting and exercising in ways we find unpleasant and controlling our food doesn’t ultimately work. It doesn’t get us to where we truly want to be: A person who doesn’t even think about over-eating or under-eating. Someone who doesn’t have a concern or fear or rebellion about eating.
I was once at a conference standing in the tea/coffee line with a doctor, having a lovely conversation. We had a long time, as the line was very long. When I mentioned that I had an eating disorder for many years, she said “oh, you’ll probably need to be vigilant about that for the rest of your life, right?”
How did I move into a much greater peace with eating, food, and weight?
I worked with the heavy weight of my emotional life. It was very heavy. I still experience swirling emotions, grief, heartbreak, anger, anxiety, nervousness. These are simply experiences that appear to be common, bubbling and normal for me. I’m not emotion-free.
In fact, in the past, when the weight of my emotional life was so heavy, before turning toward my emotional experience with compassion…. ….my goal was to have zero intense emotions.
I could tell they came in and took over, and I wanted to shut it all down. Who would we be without this story that being upset, troubled or anxious is bad or wrong? Who would we be without the story that the emotional and feeling life is torturous and must be avoided? Who would we be without the thought my feelings are frightening?
It may not feel comfortable, but it does feel human. For me, to be human is to feel. What I notice is….having feelings is a part of reality, whether I like them or not.
You want your body to be thinner?
Let’s turn it around: I want my thoughts about feelings to be thinner. I want emotional experience to be thinner.Just start with ONE fearful or troubling experience. You don’t have to handle all your terrors, upsets or grief at once. Begin with one, and study it, investigate it, chew on it, allow it in, allow it to be digested and to pass through you with understanding.
One of the best ways to do this?
The Work of Byron Katie.
Start with one difficult emotional experience where you felt betrayed, cut off, unloved or hurt, and take it through the four questions, then find turnarounds.
It may be easier to handle than you think.
It’s certainly worth the trip, because on the other side is a relaxation about having emotions without shame, and allowing them to live with compassion.
When this happened for me, I simply didn’t feel like binge eating, or starving myself, anymore.
“Since the beginning of time, people have been trying to change the world so that they can be happy. This hasn’t ever worked, because it approaches the problem backward. What The Work gives us is a way to change the projector–mind–rather than the projected. It’s like when there’s a piece of lint on a projector’s lens. We think there’s a flaw on the screen, and we try to change this person and that person, whomever the flaw appears on next. But it’s futile to try to change the projected images. Once we realize where the lint is, we can clear the lens itself. This is the end of suffering, and the beginning of a little joy in paradise.” ~ Byron Katie
Since the beginning of time, I was trying to change my weight and my body and my eating so I could be happy. This never worked, because it approached the problem backward. What The Work gave me is a way to change the projector–mind–rather than the projected–my body, the food.
I thought there was a flaw on the screen–my body itself–and I tried to change it constantly. I also tried to change this feeling and that feeling, trying to change myself and all “my” flaws when they appeared.
It was futile for me to try to change the projected image–the body, the food, the diet, the vision of perfection in the future, my feelings.
What worked instead was to clear the lens by questioning the beliefs and feeling the turnarounds with surrender, acceptance, trust.
I always say, if I can stop having an eating disorder and really notice the obsession to think about food is no longer present, then anyone can.
Long ago, I was ranting and complaining about myself really viciously.
It wasn’t the usual kind of inner rant, as if I had a really mean, abusive voice yelling at me “Why did you eat that? What’s wrong with you? Really? You’ll NEVER get this right.”
This particular rant, I was actually sharing what I was thinking out loud.
I was in a 12 Step Meeting (I can’t remember which kind, I went to many). I felt full of despair, and it was definitely about food and eating and my body. I felt entirely disgusted with myself and the whole ongoing experience.
What I wanted most was to shut down my behavior, my mind. I did NOT appear to want to understand what was going on with a more open mind.
I knew what was right and what was wrong, and I was definitely wrong.What if I had been able to pause, and treat myself with loving compassion….and ask if what I was thinking was true?
How did I react when I believed I KNEW I was doing it wrong?
Full of despair, anger, self-attack, aggression, dictatorship.Who would I be without “my” opinion?
Someone shared something with me after my sobbing and complaining and agonizing about how awful I was.
It changed my life.
Not instantly and forever. I went into that mode of judgment to the self again, oh yes.
But something was aware of the words the person shared with me, and how they were truer than what I was saying to myself.
What I see is, when I give up being furious with myself about my behavior or my appearance related to weight, I have a chance of understanding what’s happening in a bigger picture, and ending the torture. Love allows all the “bad” things we do with food and eating, it seems, to dissolve.
Not violence and control.
“We grow to believe we need to be improved and are badgered into self-improvement programs. But none of that is true. We don’t need more criticism or badgering; we need a loving, supportive ‘coach’.” ~ Cheri Huber
P.S. Eating Peace Process, an in-depth program for those of us with eating concerns, will start again May 1st. Stay tuned for more about this program about self-inquiry, ending control vs wild abandon mentality, and using the way we eat to enlighten ourselves to what’s really true: love has the power.
The great questions when it comes to our eating woes usually sound like “what’s wrong with me?” or “why can’t I just stop this obsessing?”
And there are also many more lists of “shoulds” and “shouldn’ts” that also plague us. Last weekend, I jumped out of bed on Saturday morning so happy and excited because Saturday mornings I put on a dance with my husband Jon that has become one of the highlights of our week.
We create a huge, eclectic set list 80 minutes long, we rent a dance hall for two hours, we roll in speakers, laptop and sound equipment and hang up fabrics to decorate the space….and we sweat without planning or trying or pushing. Forty to sixty people come every time.
For me, it feels like the thrilling movement like the kind when you’re a child and you spring into the day, leap down the steps, roll down a hill, fly along on your bicycle, or jump for joy.
There is no “should” about exercising. There is no “shouldn’t” about sitting still.
One thing I think that helped me deeply recover at a core level from my eating and body image obsession was to question every rule I ever learned that I had not actually tested out and felt to be true for myself.
One of these rules was most certainly “I should be exercising”.
My belief, especially as an athlete, was that I should be pounding the pavement at all times and all hours. NEVER LAZE AROUND.
It became very serious, and rule that meant if I exercises, I was “good” and if I didn’t I was “bad”.
Who would you be without that dreadful story?
I noticed I began to love moving in my body again, when I didn’t have a “should” about it. I quit the long runs. I quit doing anything that wasn’t pleasant or fantastic. I tried new forms of movement like aikido, and qigong, yoga and freeform dance.
P.S. My monthly open First Friday 7:45 am PT for anyone wanting to take 90 minutes to meditate in The Work (no fee) is TOMORROW. Join ten minutes before we begin (7:35 am) here. If you want to speak and be heard, choose phone or WebCall to connect. Listen-only choose Broadcast.
Maybe one of the #1 key feelings to address when it comes to addiction, compulsion, reactions to life.
Fear leads to anger. Fear leads to resentment. Fear leads to withdrawing. Fear leads to not trying in any way to get your needs met that might involve getting hurt. Fear leads to guessing.
Fear leads to eating.
It has many forms: terror, nervousness, anxiety, worry, rumination, planning, irritation, controlling, forcing, battling, fighting, aggression, passivity, pushing, criticism, fury, smallness, shyness, hiding….eating.
There’s signage that’s used in so many construction sites where people are operating big bulky dangerous equipment: Safety First.
In this case of compulsive behavior, the big bulky dangerous equipment is our thinking.
A wisdom can come from this little phrase “safety first”, because if you don’t feel safe (enough) you won’t be able to do inquiry or deal with the world without feeling a sense of threat.
Can we look at what has been threatening, and face it head on with The Work of Byron Katie? To do this, a few things help. These may be wonderful to add, so your mind and heart can get a sense of “Safety First” when reviewing and resolving past troubling experiences and beliefs:
*remember that you’ll feel upset or uncomfortable right now, as you remember this uncomfortable situation from the past–it’s OK. The event isn’t happening except in your mind. Good to remember. *using The Work, you can be totally honest first about your stressful, judgmental thinking, and then answer the four questions *get someone to sit with you while you contemplate and question your trauma *be compassionate with yourself for reaching for power, comfort and safety with food–it was a good choice, for the time being (you didn’t know any better, so you made the best choice you could) *there’s something safer than replaying that old fearful experience within at a gut level–facing it, speaking it, sharing it, inquiring.
It’s especially worth facing fear when it means you won’t be eating so compulsively anymore.
You might even notice, when you inquire, do The Work and find your own wisdom….you don’t need the soothing food gives you.
You’re safe now, so no need to eat.
The Work will hold you, or anyone, in peace.
“Strange things can happen when the mind understands and rest silently in itself, but these are no more miraculous than the simple act of breathing or walking or biting into an apple. When the past is over (and it always is), I forget it until someone asks me about it, because there’s nothing to remember. It’s done, it’s gone without a trace, as if it had never existed. What is happening right now? That’s where my focus is.” ~ Byron Katie
Last call for this year’s annual Eating Peace Retreat: a deep and beautiful immersion into questioning stressful thought, including fear, and sharing 5 nights 6 days together in Seattle. To read more, visit here.
Retreat means literally to fall back, pull out, give way, give ground to the “enemy” in a war zone.
In retreats, where we gather together outside of our daily activities, we get to back off from the front lines of life, and pause.
I wasn’t so sure, for a long time, about offering a retreat specifically for eating peace, self-inquiry, and the spiritual path known as The Work.
It seemed too daunting.
It took me a long time to find peace with food. I couldn’t promise anything. I could never with any integrity say “guaranteed to heal your compulsions by Monday”. And yet, people would request this retreat.
I noticed my own joy at attending retreats and workshops. People invited me to come facilitate about eating, thinking, feeling, questioning, body image, compulsive behavior, addiction.
The topic is amazing and wonderful and agonizing and confusing, and worthy of profound exploration. I continue to be curious, endlessly, about peoples’ experiences with food.
So it became a thing.
At first, in 2010, it was a one day event. It wasn’t enough.
It quickly became two days (a whole weekend), and then I added in Friday all day as well. For a few more years it was 3.5 days, and now…..it’s five nights and six days. We start on a Weds evening, and end on Monday morning.
The Eating Peace Retreat is the longest and most focused and guided retreat I do. It’s the one that addresses what almost killed me (my eating behaviors).
It’s the retreat I wished for thirty years ago when I suffered so much with my thinking about food and eating and weight. I went to therapies, tried nutritionists, read about every kind of diet (couldn’t keep on them) and was even hospitalized because of my obsessive eating.
Really, it was my obsessive thinking.
It was my beliefs and ideas about eating, not-eating, dieting, not-dieting, addiction, cravings, compulsions and weight. Most of it was torturous and oppositional and fear-inducing.
Who would you be without your story of “I am abstinent, I am doing it, I have control”? And when the chocolate is eaten, “I did it, I am terrible, I cannot keep promises to myself.” I, I, I. Who would you be without the violence in your mind and heart? ~ Byron Katie
Doing The Work has made all the difference in the world.
It is the kindest, most compassionate way to sit and inquire with thought, and understand the patterns or feelings that build up and create compulsive action in the first place.
I love spending the time to sit and look at every fear, anxiety, disappointment….every grabby pattern, every panic that says “I have to have this!” or “I have to have something else–not this!”
When we gather together on retreat, we sit in a circle and share and do The Work. We uncover our embarrassing, uncomfortable, sad, childlike, innocent thoughts and beliefs and find new ways to be life, and with reality.
What I’ve found as I question my thoughts is a peace beyond belief.
On retreat we rest, relax, get all the physical needs handled so we can be with the busy mind, and unravel what’s there. Using our imagination (which has been so good at the negative) we wonder what it’s like without our thoughts and rules and effort to control everything.
Together, we eat, sleep, share, question.
What a wonderful practice.
If you’d like to come to this year’s retreat, you’d be welcome. We have two spots left. This fee for the Eating Peace retreat is only $585. The two rooms left are $120/night (for a king sized luxurious bed) and $95/night for a queen room on the lower level.
Geneen Roth, who does a beautiful job of inquiry and freedom from compulsive eating, charges $2300 for the same length of time. Byron Katie’s School is over $5000 for 9 days (almost ten times as expensive) and treatment for emotional eating or eating disorders are generally $2000 per day and start with a minimum of two weeks.
This time together is one of the best ways you can practice freedom from frustration, and be without binge-eating, graze-eating, worry, struggle or fear for six days.
Retreat offers you practice to feel true relaxation in your bones, so you can take it home with you and rest in peace.
And even if you never travel to attend retreat, you can have your own “inner” retreat, starting now, with this new moment.
Have you ever had the thought that you have zero peace when it comes to food? Never a peaceful moment with eating, or your body…..ever?
It’s probably not true, if you really think about it. First of all, there are many minutes in a day when food is in the world, and so are you, and you’re OK–you’re not thinking about food.
Then there’s night time. You’re sleeping, even though food is in the vicinity, or somewhere close by in the house.
This doesn’t diminish the experience of terrible stress around food when it’s there. I know it hurts. I know it’s very painful, and full of struggle.
The thing is, we can take a look at these struggle-filled moments one situation at a time, even if you feel like a whole tsunami of stress is washing over you when it comes to eating or your weight.
We start with one moment.
If you’re not sure where to look….you can go back to wondering what you learned about food and eating and body image from the people around you when you were a child. I know that’s a big topic all on it’s own.
But if you sit for just a few minutes and remember, and see the people who influenced you, you’ll find a person to investigate….and everything they modeled for you. If you’re still not sure, do The Work on your mother.
Today I share a wonderful moment discovered by someone in the Eating Peace Process Immersion program. She remembered a time sitting at the dinner table with parents and grandparents.
She was forced to eat what was on her plate.
This brings to light the idea that there’s a “good” way to eat, and a “bad” way to eat. A “right” way to eat, and a “wrong” way to eat.
Eating and food becomes a religion. I myself become a good or right person if I eat like x, and I become a bad or wrong person when I eat like y.
We can find these situations of deep influence, and question them! Is what you learned absolutely true? Are you sure? Who would you be without your thought?
If you’re longing for what it’s like to eat beyond a religion about food, in a place where there’s no right or wrong and peace is the core sense (not chaos) then come join me at the Eating Peace Retreat Jan 9-14, 2019 for five nights/six days of peaceful eating, peaceful thinking.