Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Constant Revisiting

The past couple entries on the Refuse to Regain blog have been interesting to me. Barbara talks about how boring the word maintenance be and then Lynn gives us an uplifting way to think about it - sustenance.

I took a day of vacation last Friday and was able to enjoy my morning coffee with my partner, while sitting out on the porch listening to the birds. That's a rare treat on most weekdays now, but I was reminded of a ritual I used to practice almost every morning while listening to the birds greet the day: morning pages.

I got the idea of morning pages from Julie Cameron's The Artist's Way. It's the only exercise from the book I ever practices with any regularity. The idea is this: first thing in the morning, get up and immediately start writing. Write until you've filled 3 pages. And no, the writing does not occur at keyboard with words magically appearing on the screen. The writing involves taking pen to paper. Just write what comes to mind - without judgement. I remember many times just writing "I'm sleepy. I have nothing to write" and then thoughts would start flowing.

I turned Cameron's ritual into my own. I would make myself a cup of coffee. Light three candles (one for peace, one for love, and one for joy) and burn some incense. Soft music (not loud enough to drown out the birdsong) would play in the background. And then I'd write. This is a wonderfully peaceful way to start the day.

And I miss this ritual.

Today, I partially practiced it. I had soft music playing as I wrote. Unfortunately, our house is so well made that unless windows are open, it's rare to hear birdsong. And it's pollen season here - no open windows. But I wrote and I felt more at peace than I have in a while. And I remembered how at one point in my life, I would try to ask myself if a behavior I was about to practice would engender peace in my life.

I thought about my "Don't Go Hungry" questions and realized that in many ways, those questions also ask if eating and my food choice will help me feel at peace. Let's face it - if I eat a greasy hamburger, 3 hours later I probably won't be feeling very peaceful with myself. Same goes for scarfing down a dozen speckled eggs (my favorite Easter treat). Not only do the indulgences typically make me feel a bit ill, they also typically make me feel guilty. Guilt and peace don't normally go hand in hand.

So, I'm revisiting the DGH questions and perhaps revamping them somewhat:

1. Am I hungry? Will eating now engender feelings of peacefulness?
2. How will this food feel as I eat it? Will eating it make me feel guilty or at peace?
3. How will this food feel right after I've finished eating it? Will I feel at peace with myself after eating it?
4. How will this food feel 1 hour after I eat it? Will my body feel content?
5. How will this food feel 2-3 hours after I eat it? Will my body still be feeling content?
6. Will this food still be with me 3 hours after eating? Will my body begin to be feeling hungry and needing nourishment?

One thing I've learned over the past year - overeating may feel good right as it's happening, but usually within 1 hours, I'm miserable. My body will not let me feel at peace with myself because I've abused it again by overeating. This is what I need to avoid in order to feel at peace with my body and my treatment of it.

Another thing I've learned - the constant revisiting of my tools and strategies is what has helped me maintain instead of gain. Accepting this also brings about peace.

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