Sitting at lunch the other day, drooling over a picture of jerk chicken a familiar thought came floating through my mind:
I have no desire to eat this plate of food in front of me.
You’d think I had a bowl of porridge or something in front of me; no, it was a lovely turkey sandwich with arugula, dijon, tomato, and Swiss, some reduced-fat whole-grain crackers, an apple, and some watermelon.
But all I wanted were cookies.
And it’s not like I had the option to eat cookies — locked in my office while the baby’s upstairs with the nanny, I eat what I bring down with me before I start work, or I don’t eat at all — but it wasn’t just that. The night before, I’d had a similar experience with our dinner salad: “I don’t think I like mushrooms.” Unless they’re cooked down with butter and oil and wine, of course…”Gosh, I don’t think I really like tomatoes, either.” Unless they’re seeded. And even then…
I’ve been opening cabinets; staring at the inside of my fridge; wondering why it feels like there’s nothing in the house that I want to eat. The Willy Wonka dark chocolate bar doesn’t stimulate my senses; the exotic casaba melon sitting on my countertop doesn’t do anything for my taste buds. Even Ben & Jerry’s is losing out with their Whirled Peace and Red Velvet ice creams.
So what could it be? Why do I suddenly feel like I’d rather look at a picture of jerk chicken rather than eat it? (And no, I’m not pregnant.)
Something is definitely going on. And after listening to a Podcast with Christiane Northrup a couple of weeks ago and reflecting on what I want and don’t want in my life right now, this could be an interesting foray: I’m experiencing an extreme distaste for certain things — foods, people, activities, situations — I’m noticing the physical sensation, an unpleasant one, and it seems to be completely connected to what’s going on at a deeper level. And any one of us can probably pin an achy knee, headache or stomach ache to a deeper emotional pain or stressor on any given day at any given hour, if we just make an effort to see the connection.
Although it might be tempting, therefore, to think that because we know the emotional source of our physical pain we can kill two birds with one stone, unfortunately, that’s not always the case — I keep coming back to this issue time and time again, that becoming aware of what’s going on inside is, indeed, the first step. The first step toward what, you ask? Well, it may be the first step toward curbing your emotional eating, or it may be the first step toward cutting back on shopping compulsively, or it may be the first step toward establishing a spiritual practice that feels more right and comfortable for you.
So when you notice the physical sensations going on in your body today — whether positive or negative — start opening your eyes to how those external feelings are reflections of your current thoughts and beliefs and what so many these days are calling the “stories” we tell ourselves. In being able to pinpoint the deeper feelings, identifying with what you’re thinking and how you ultimately view what’s happening to you in the world around you, you’re actually going to be living more in the moment and enjoying even more of the positive stuff you have to be grateful for. (I realize that in saying that many of you may automatically assume that you’ll feel more deeply the negative thoughts and sensations also, which IS possible, but feeling those feelings and just “being” with them and acknowledging them is a lot better than running out to binge or splurge or do any other number of things out of guilt or shame or sadness or loneliness.)
Imagine all the living you could do, all the things you’d have or create time for if you slowly started noticing what you don’t want and start weeding out those things. It may be a long, slow road of change or continual rededication, but I’m placing my bets on the fact that it’s worth it. It’s so fun at times, this process of self-discovery, that it almost feels indulgent.
Now it’s your turn. Are you happy with your brown-bag peanut butter sandwich at lunch? More power to you. Not so happy with your plate of fried fish and chips at the local pub? Send it back, or just stop eating it. Notice how much pleasure and enjoyment you’re experiencing. It will enrich everything you do.