My yoga teacher once said that each day we choose how we want to feel based on what we eat. Truer words I had never heard. I watch the way this plays out in my own life; whether it be using sugar to knock down feelings that are more than I can bear or the choice to fast from sugar for a month before going on retreat because I want change more than I want to numb out. I see the way my life rises and falls daily based on what I put into my mouth. It is that simple.
Food was my very first consciousness practice. And while initially I began for reasons like losing weight, that slowly but surely evolved into a desire for greater personal and planetary health. And quite unexpectedly, another tremendous change began showing up in my life; I began to think differently. I began to feel differently. Like some invisible force working on me, I began to see myself in a different light, and with that came a very, very different life. Without the food changes I made I would never have had the courage to get out of a lifeless marriage. I would never have had the nerve to let go of a PhD in the 11th hour, after 10 years of work, when I discovered that I was on the wrong path. And I would never have had the energy to make significant changes in our home around how we live. This is the short list.
I was away on retreat recently. And even though there were many, many things to choose from at each meal; a way to satisfy any food craving you were having or food experience that you sought, it tempted me not. Why? Because before I had even left my house, I had already chosen how it was that I wanted to feel. I had already committed to feeling all of my feelings, whatever they might be; joy, grief, connection to All That Is, rage, you name it. And because of this I was very, very systematic, intuitive and thoughtful about what and how much I put into my body. In that sacred time that I had created for myself, I wanted the chance to feel what I was feeling without distortion. Why? Because when it is all said and done, I am better for it. Always. It has been said that feeling a feeling has never killed anybody, but not feeling what is there, well, we all have our examples.
If this makes sense to you, I encourage you to begin by getting clear about what it is that you want from your life. Then, begin to watch all the ways you sabotage your energy, your self-esteem, your health, your relationships, and your potential with what and how much you put into your mouth. The only way that this does not reduce down to an exercise in self-abuse is to be very, very kind to yourself as you look as clearly and closely as you can at what you are choosing to feel based on how and what you are eating. And while this is not easy, it is that simple.