I’m losing 10 to 15 lbs a month since May, without effort or dieting.
You might wonder why I’m writing about healthy weight management on a website which is about being a natural, free, human being. Well, there are a number of relevant lessons in this.
A few years ago I got tired of dieting. I realized that all diets work in the same way. First, they work. I lose weight. Then, they don’t work. And I gain back weight with a vengeance, generally gaining back even more than I had lost.
I went through many yo-yo swings before I got tired of it. I read Charles Eisenstein’s The Yoga of Eating and some stuff from Geneen Roth, and what they said made intuitive sense to me.
So about a year ago, I tried the following:
Eat when I’m hungry
Eat absolutely whatever I feel like eating
Stop eating when I’m satisfied
Eat with full awareness
This meant discarding all the conventional wisdom about eating.
I eat when I’m hungry. If I’m hungry late at night, or in the middle of the night, I eat. If I’m not hungry for breakfast I don’t eat breakfast.
I eat absolutely whatever I want to eat. If I feel like eating potato chips or ice cream or a donut, that’s what I eat.
I tried this for a year, and what happened was, well, nothing. In fact I think I gained more weight.
About the time that I felt the relief, I also began to understand why this was not working.
So I made a small change. I changed “awareness” to pleasure. Instead of eating with awareness, I eat with pleasure.
And it works. Effortlessly. Without any sense of deprivation.
This experience I think is an apt analogy to what happens when we go on a spiritual search for enlightenment.
I gained weight for emotional reasons. I gained weight because I was eating through fear and conditioning and mental rules.
This is what happens generally in life. We have a sense of alienation from the very beginning, and so we learn to experience life through fear and conditioning and confusion and mental rules.
At some point we decide we don’t like being fat. So we go on quest to fix the problem. Which is what dieting is.
At some point in life we don’t like being confused or depressed or feeling uncomfortable in our own skins. So we go on spiritual quest to fix our lives. We seek wisdom and practices and enlightenment.
Dieting is very much like the spiritual quest. They are both just another form of control, another of form of resistance.
It turns out the answer is not to try to fix our lives. If the goal is to live freely and naturally and sanely, the answer is not to try to fix anything or seek anything. That takes us further away from the truth. The answer is to recognize that the only problem there is is that we have always thought, from the beginning of our lives, that there is a problem. Everything else is a logical effect of this original problem.
Similarly, the answer is not to go on a diet to lose weight. The answer is to recognize that because of fear we learn to eat emotionally. When we eat freely and naturally and body knows exactly what to do.
Another lesson here is to understand how powerfully distracting abstraction is. I was trying to eat naturally with “awareness.” Awareness is an abstract word, it took me further away from the real thing. “Pleasure” is something I understand innately, I don’t have to learn pleasure, I don’t have get into any specific mind state to experience pleasure, I completely and immediately understand what pleasure is.
These words which we use, like awareness, oneness, non-duality, acceptance, consciousness, karma, true self, false self, Self, self, and all the paradoxes and clever sayings and wisdom and Sanskrit words which spiritual enthusiasts seem to be so fond of–well, they take us further away from the actual thing.
The actual thing, the sense of you, is utterly ordinary, and right here on the surface. You don’t have to dig down deep for it, you don’t have to look for it, you don’t have to distinguish it from abstractions like false self and true self and awareness and consciousness. It’s just you. Take a look.