Monday, July 23, 2007

Cycles, Judgment and Joy

I have to return "The Power of Now" to the library today. So I'm trying to get some last-minute tidbits of wisdom from it before I take it back. (I have a copy ordered, but it's going to be a while until I get it because it's being shipped with something I pre-ordered that won't be available until September.)

Wouldn't you know, I found something that directly related to my previous post about my lack of energy and need to be productive:

"Your physical energy is also subject to cycles. It cannot always be at a peak. There will be times of low as well as high energy. There will be periods when you are highly active and creative, but there may also be times when everything seems stagnant, when it seems that you are not getting anywhere, not achieving anything. A cycle can last for anything from a few hours to a few years. There are large cycles and small cycles within these large ones. Many illnesses are created through fighting against the cycles of low energy, which are vital for regeneration. The compulsion to do, and the tendency to derive your sense of self-worth and identity from external factors such as achievement, is an inevitable illusion as long as you are identified with the mind. This makes it hard or impossible for you to accept the low cycles and allow them to be. Thus, the intelligence of the organism may take over as a self-protective measure and create an illness in order to force you to stop, so that the necessary regeneration can take place."

While some of this fatigue is probably a side effect of the medication, I do think it's my body telling me it's time to rest, to recuperate and regenerate from ... everything. I shouldn't fight it, let it be, and let the cycle run its course.

The weekend was interesting as far as food went. Saturday night we went out for dinner and I ordered eggplant Parmesan, which came with a side of spaghetti, a salad and bread. I ate all of my salad and one piece of bread, then my entree came. It was very good and I was really enjoying it, but halfway through I just knew I was done. I hit that satisfaction point where I felt good: not hungry anymore, but not stuffed, either. I knew I could pack the rest of it up and eat it later. I'm still at the stage that finding that moment is a shocking realization to me. I'm hopeful that it will eventually become an everyday occurrence.

Sunday morning went well, too. I had the same thing for breakfast that I ate Saturday, but I found myself very content with half the amount I had the day before. The problem came in the afternoon. I got an attack of the "snackies" and had more than my share of sweet and salty snacks. My feelings of fullness went dead on me and I had to consciously stop eating because my body wasn't sending a strong enough signal, or else my brain wasn't getting the signal. It wasn't until an hour later or so that it caught up with me, but by then my family wanted supper so I cooked our meal. I could have easily skipped that meal, but I went ahead and ate anyway. Then our neighbors invited us over and they had this incredible homemade cake with mandarin oranges in the cake and fresh blueberries in the layers and on top. I ate a piece, then my SIL, who was also there, and I picked at a piece that had fallen apart on the serving dish.

Last night I really felt like I had overeaten and wasn't thrilled about it. The good news is, instead of falling into binge mentality and thinking, "Well, since I've already blown it today, I might as well go all the way," I didn't eat anything else. I could have easily broken into my stash of candy bars (that I bought a week ago and haven't touched) and sucked them all down in a combination of self-pity and self-hatred. But there was no need to empty my cupboards, and there was no point in punishing myself.

This all comes down to that "good" and "bad" mentality, that all-or-nothing thinking when it comes to eating and especially dieting. Eckhart Tolle once again discusses this in "The Power of Now:"

"As long as a condition is judged as 'good' by your mind, whether it be a relationship, a possession, a social role, a place, or your physical body, the mind attaches itself to it and identifies with it. It makes you happy, makes you feel good about yourself, and it may become part of who you are or think you are. But nothing lasts in this dimension where moth and rust consume. Either it ends or it changes, or it may undergo a polarity shift: The same condition that was good yesterday or last year has suddenly or gradually turned into bad. The same condition that made you happy, then makes you unhappy. The prosperity of today becomes the empty consumerism of tomorrow. The happy wedding and honeymoon becomes the unhappy divorce or the unhappy coexistence. Or a condition disappears, so its absence makes you unhappy. When a condition or situation that the mind has attached itself to and identified with changes or disappears, the mind cannot accept it. It will cling to the disappearing condition and resist the change. It is almost as if a limb were being torn off your body. "

The problem with judging things as good or giving you happiness is that it inevitably leads to its opposite, the bad and unhappy. "What comes up must come down," the old saying goes. When we merely accept things as they are, to accept what simply is, there's no opposite, no downside. We don't experience happiness or unhappiness, but peace.

"Through allowing the 'isness' of all things," Tolle says, "a deeper dimension underneath the play of opposites reveals itself to you as an abiding presence, an unchanging deep stillness, an uncaused joy beyond good and bad. This is the joy of Being, the peace of God."

So, in looking back at my weekend, what good does it do to judge my eating as "good" Saturday and "bad" Sunday? If I just view both events as inevitable cycles, it eliminates the emotional ups and downs that I feel about my "performance." There will be days that I will be in tune with my body's hunger and fullness signals, and there will be days that I won't. It doesn't make me a good or bad person. It just is, and I am simply Being.

This means I need to surrender and accept the good with the bad. Because the minute I begin to seek happiness from one behavior, I am also taking in the inseparable unhappiness that accompanies it. This doesn't mean I should give up or shouldn't still strive to learn healthier behaviors. Tolle writes about this, too:

"This is not being negative. It is simply recognizing the nature of things, so that you don't pursue an illusion for the rest of your life. Nor is it saying that you should no longer appreciate pleasant or beautiful things or conditions. But to seek something through them that they cannot give -- an identity, a sense of permanency and fulfilment -- is a recipe for frustration and suffering... The more you seek happiness in this way, the more it will elude you. Nothing out there will ever satisfy you except temporarily and superficially, but you may need to experience many disillusionments before you realize the truth. Things and conditions can give you pleasure, but they cannot give you joy. Nothing can give you joy. Joy is uncaused and arises from within as the joy of Being. It is an essential part of the inner state of peace, the state that has been called the peace of God. It is your natural state, not something that you need to work hard for struggle to attain."

I can still strive to be an intuitive eater, but doing that will not solve all the problems in my life. It will not give me joy. Only living consciously, accepting what is and not resisting the natural cycles of life, will give me peace from judgment and unhappiness. Now the trick is to actually do it!

1 comment:

Lori said...

There's a lot to comment on here but I just have come to accept the fact that there will be good days and bad days (in the sense of eating, not being judgmental) and the trick is not to let any of that blind me. I could be blinded by failure and give up or worse yet, blinded by success where I am like Icarus and soar into danger and not be careful.