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Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Food and Feelings "Window"

Sometimes “spirituality” can become a kind of mask that we hide behind – another persona. This has been true for me in the past – hiding my feelings. Even now I have to catch myself sometimes and ask: Am I being real here... What am I really feeling… Am I just believing convincing spiritual jargon, and spewing out all the “right” words, “spiritualizing” my way through my feelings… Or am I being authentic. There is something authentic in *allowing and expressing* feelings – the truth of life experience. Feeling the feelings allows me to be more open to others, more compassionate, more engaged, more available, more vulnerable, and less detached. Feelings open the heart.

So – with my food fetish recently I am looking into the inner window of what the feelings are behind the Food: why I indulge, why I use it as a drug, what feelings am I trying to stuff, what am I trying to suppress, to medicate, to avoid, what are the holes that I am trying to fill, what is not being satisfied, what pain am I trying to soothe… Food actually has become a practice in awareness. At this point I am still on the outer fringes of awareness, but I am aware that something is not quite whole here – something needs to be seen, felt and acknowledged… And so I’m beginning to listen, to not resist the feelings, and see what they have to offer.

My first pass at *seeing* the feelings behind the food produced this list:

Food is resistance to what is.
Food is avoidance, denial, repression, suppression, self-gratification.
Food is anger, anxiety, frustration, grief, self-denial, self-sacrifice, unmet emotion, unmet feeling, unmet life.
Food is security, and insecurity, self-doubt, and neuroses of all kinds.
Food is distraction, disappointment and dissatisfaction.
Food is numbing.
Food is false control when I feel out of control.
Food is consumed in order *not* to face things that need to be faced.
Food is a way of fighting the fear.
Food is about not being good enough.
Food covers a deep pain, a deep grief, and temporarily fills a deep hole.

When I looked into this hole of pain and grief, I recognized that it is the old wound of separation – the original wounding of mankind - that spawns all religions, the search for Truth, for wholeness, for “Oneness.” Intellectually I know this mental *idea* of separation cannot be true… But, evidently it is still *believed* somewhere in this system. There is a very *deep* sense of *feeling* separate from ‘The Beloved’ – that no amount of intellectualizing or spiritualizing can assuage. This feeling is like being torn and gutted. It is torment and an extreme longing for relief. Food evidently offers that relief – like any other addiction – physical or spiritual. In fact, the feeling of “separateness” from the ‘The Beloved’ is probably the basis of all addictions.

The feeling invites me in, to see, to come to face to face with this sense of separateness that I continue to *feel* in my *being,* despite “knowing” otherwise: That in truth, this Primordial Beingness (‘The Beloved’) is intimate with and inseparable from all life, and all life experiences. I know this and yet evidently I don’t… And the closer I get to this gaping hole, the more I want to eat!!!! There is an overwhelming compulsion to consume every time I approach…

But I am willing to at least look over the edge, to feel this feeling of separation, to befriend it, to honor it, to *see* it, to stop avoiding and resisting it, or trying to cover it over with “spirituality.” Oh yes, almost forgot – and with food. I can’t *deny* its presence. It is too visceral – too intense. To hold it and give it space is freeing… ‘The Beloved’, through awareness, embraces everything, receives every feeling, every emotion back to ItSelf with deep acceptance and deep compassion. In the embrace the sense of emotional “pain” in this body begins to relax - because it has been seen, acknowledged and welcomed home.

The seeing of this, and the embrace of it, is not the end of it, however. It’s the beginning. It’s the beginning of living authentically, living mindfully, living fully awake and aware – with feelings and food… It’s an ongoing discovery.



  1. I love the unveiling here...it hits very close to home!

    Thank You Christine for your continual 'flashlight' moments!

    Happy Autumn! :)

  2. Bless you, Christine, for your courage and determined awareness, for your willingness to be vulnerable. This, too, is what it feels like to be awake!


  3. Akasa ~ "flashlight moments" - I love it! And thank you for your presence along the journey! Happy Autumn to you too! De-light-full time of year! :)

  4. Dear Maria ~ Yes, I am beginning to really *see* this and it feels authentic... And I thank you for your love, support, courage, and the flashlight that you have held for me as we journey the terrain together...

    Big Heart Hugs - C

  5. I love the exploration of what hole you are trying to fill with food. I do it too and I watch the habitual reaction. Tired - maybe I need something to eat. Agitated or unsettled by some event, comfort lies in some "treat". And the draw is so strong. And when I watch it pass without indulging I see it, but it can be hard to intervene.

    And then there's the habitual, "it tastes good, maybe I'll have a little more."

    Alot of spiritual work for us at the table!!

  6. Hello ZDS ~ Oh yes, the treat at the end of a "hard" day... :) All those subtle ways to "reward" and comfort ourselves... It does seem to be very subtle. I'm taking baby steps - Awareness 101. Eliminating just a little at a time, like the evening snack. Gives me a chance to watch all those little games I've been playing with myself...

    And now I'm off to my mother's - that ought to be good for a bit of a binge at the end of the day - ugh... Maybe I'll be more mindful this time and not indulge...

    with gratitude as always - C

  7. this morning, I sat with a dear friend who came to visit...we used Byron Katie's "work" to come into more balanced understanding of beliefs that have created suffering in our lives. This was my first experience trying this practice....and it leaves me wondering about what might happen to your relationship with food if you "turned around" the statements on your list...it could be an experiment. For example instead of saying "Food is distraction, disappointment and dissatisfaction" what if you turned these statements around and said: food brings me into the present moment....food is gratifying...food is satisfying. What would happen if you could balance both attitudes, accept that both are true. For me the process was really about compassion and seeing things from more than one perspective (the one that is habitual...even if that view causes me to suffer)

    something to play with perhaps...
    may you feel safe
    may you feel happy
    may you feel strong
    may you live with ease...in this moment.

  8. Thank you Laura ~ I am familiar with Byron Katie's work and have used it in the past. I can see that using it to address the *feelings* behind the reasons for indulging in food would be beneficial... providing a different way of seeing the issues underneath the food - because it's really not about the food - but the relationship with life itself - AND - the whole issue of "separation." :) Thank you for your offering!

  9. Thank you for this beautiful post Christine. Ahhhhh...the whole issue of 'separation'...when I feel it in my heart --the fleeting moments that I let myself FEEL it's raw flesh searing effect -- it feels like death. Lately I am trying to let everything be just as it is...including those thoughts. Reading some of your words on this blog straightened this heart/mind in to some deeper allowing for last night's meditation. Thank you so much for the powerful words that you post here.

  10. Hi Leslie ~ Absolutely, *allowing* everything to be as it is, is key - not attaching to anything, thought or feeling; not trying to "fix" anything - just paying attention to what the feelings are ultimately pointing to. More window sitting is at hand :) Lovebeams - Christine

  11. Hi Christine, First of all, I adore your photo, especially how it looks like yin-yang in the empty bowl. And, I appreciate all the work you put into analyzing your relationship with food and the *feeling* of separation from ‘The Beloved.’

    I like Laura's suggestion of doing Byron Katie type of "work" on your thoughts, especially the thoughts that you shouldn't be eating when you're not hungry and using food as a drug. I can certainly relate to those thoughts and this that you said, "Food actually has become a practice in awareness." While eating, instead of thinking about what you should or shouldn't be eating, can you just focus on the food? Marvel at where it came from and all the people who worked to bring that food to your table, and how everything is connected.

    Here is a sweet "Tangerine Meditation" from Thich Nhat Hanh that can be applied to any kind of food:

    "Each time you look at a tangerine, you can see deeply into it. You can see everything in the universe in one tangerine. When you peel it and smell it, it’s wonderful. You can take your time eating a tangerine and be very happy." :)

  12. Hello Diane...

    Interesting idea to "just focus on the food..." Sounds like John Kabat Zinn's meditation as well - bringing mindfulness to food and eating. Would be interesting to see if the feelings that compel me to eat compulsively just dissolve... Thank you for your offering... Christine

  13. TO EVERYONE...

    I am concerned that I need to clarify my "Food is..." statements, as I think that they may have been misunderstood. These were free association statements that arose spontaneously in sitting meditation as I was bringing awareness to the whole issue of food and feelings. In that context, it is not that "Food is - dissatisfying, or that food is "pain", or that food is "anger", or frustrating, or disappointing. It is that these are the feelings that I try to cover with food. One could do the same with alcohol, or sex, or shopping, or whatever addictive behavior we engage in to comfort ourselves, to numb the sense of core dis-satisfactoriness that we feel within ourselves and/or with life circumstances. So I was looking at that dynamic here. It is not that I am not grateful for food. My experience with this is that those of us that have an issue with food need to see this dynamic from a place of Awareness of the relationship between food and feelings. It is not meant to be a mental analysis of the issue, but an experiential awareness of my relationship with food and feelings...

    It appears that what some of you are saying is that by bringing attention to the food itself, and seeing the food in a different way, then the use of food in an addictive way would change? If I am able to change my perception of *food*, then this changes the dynamic of food and feelings? Would be interested in getting your clarification on this... Thanks :) Christine

  14. Hi Christine,
    Thank you for that clarification Christine. That's an important point. Too often, it seems, the action is judged in some way. Or given the various labels of good/bad, divine/worldly, high/low etc. Then I get all involved with the manipulation of action or involved in thinking what actions are the right ones? It's enough to drive one batty. And none of it has anything to do with Awareness. It's not the action or the object. Nothing wrong with desire, fear, shopping, eating etc. But I notice my experience of those same actions are markedly different when there is just awareness and the task. When that happens I also notice that all the above needless manipulation was absent.
    "More window sitting is at hand :)
    Thank you for those "Lovebeams" Dear Christine. I could definitely use those today.