A note to readers: the following is a posting I made on facebook a few days ago. It resonated with so many, and generated such intense conversation, that I wanted to bring it into an article here on the blog to share it with you. Included are my opening comments and many screen grabs of the conversation as it took place on my facebook page.
Although part of my practice is to learn to navigate aversions so that they do not lead to disquieting states, I must admit that my discomfort with weight loss stories is challenging my practice. These stories come into view daily, sometimes multiple times a day.
It’s not that I think that weight loss per se is a bad thing. Or that some people wouldn’t benefit from it, or want it.
But it’s the emphasis on weight loss as the goal when I know from (decades) of experience that unless a holistic approach of creating more space around reactivity, eating plenty of good food when you are hungry so you don’t store hunger (and fan the flames of craving), move your body, and let the body find its own naturally healthy weight, that you are more often that not doing a couple of things that become problematic:
1) locking yourself into food jail with the obsessive focus on weight loss
2) assembling all of your mental energy to lose the weight (deprivation and hunger require all of your attention to maintain), thus disconnecting yourself from equanimity and skillful living in life’s other realms
3) without addressing the bigger picture of skillful, mindful living, run the (big) risk of regain of weight – usually with a net gain
When I see a weight loss success story these days, besides cautionary aversion, it generates very little interest because I have seen enough people get burned with the promises they are given, or envision, that are not aligned with actually a healthier, happier life.
Let us develop instead healthy living and happiness, and welcome our naturally healthy weight, so that when the weight normalizes, we have not learned that the only avenue to wellbeing is obsession which burns and fizzles faster than a firecracker. Let us concern ourselves with living with kindness and compassion for ourselves as well as others, to build a better world, ourselves along with it.
Are you with me on this?
The Conscious, Mindful Living Alternative: The Buddha in the Snow Globe
The snow globe in action above (The Mindful Vegan: A 30-Day Plan for Finding Health, Balance, Peace, and Happiness on display at Spirit Rock Meditation Center book store, right next to works of the Dalai Lama) beautifully illustrates what happens with mindfulness meditation practice, and the practice of aspiring to bring some degree of that mindfulness into the rest of our day.
We all have endogenous – innate to our brains and being – the qualities of compassion, kindness, patience, equanimity, happiness, joy…..it’s just that they have been obscured by our busy minds and our busy lives.
Mindfulness practice helps to unobscure these these qualities so that we can live with less reactivity, greater ease, and make more skillful choices. This is the avenue that rescued me from thirty years of being a war with food, eating, and my body, twenty-five years ago when I took up a mindfulness practice and gave up dieting as I knew it in favor of living and eating mindfully. It’s all there in the book.
Reader Responses from Facebook
What follows is screen shots of reader responses to my post as shared on facebook. So rich with meaning and connection, I knew I must share some of them with you. There are too many to share in this space, but you can still see all responses by clicking on the link to the original post at the end of this article.
Are you done with restrictive eating that requires you to bring all your attention to an end result of weight loss?
Do you have the sense that there must be another way? A way that reaches beyond the diets and restriction, instead embracing the all of you in harmony and happiness? In a fashion that also brings you into balance with your higher ideals of human living? Join the conversation by sharing your thoughts in comments below.
Note: If you’d like to see all of the original comments on this facebook post, you can jump there now by clicking on the “see more” link provided in the embedded screen view below:
Image credit: © PsychoShadow – www.bigstockphoto.com