I’m listening to Pema Chodron’s Getting Unstuck: Breaking Your Habitual
Patterns & Encountering Naked Reality
I joined Audible.com this morning and decided that my first book would be by Pema Chodrön. She’s another gentle, effective teacher.
She was taking about meditation and how we are like children with scabies. They itch. They scratch the itch. The itch gets worse until medical help is required. The child is told to not scratch the itch so they can get better – and they are given medication to help with the itch. Children who desire to get better will do their best to not scratch the itch and take the medication.
I immediately realized that my impulse to eat when I am not hungry is very similar to wanting to scratch an itch – real or imagined. How many times have I successfully kept myself from scratching an itch. Instead I’d breathe through it, distract myself (probably not very Buddhist-like) and eventually the itch would be gone and I’d be better – without the red welts that mark my skin when I scratch it. I’ve done this more often than not – unless it was a mosquito that bit me.
When I have the impulse to eat when I am not hungry (ie, not bitten by a mosquito), it is because something has made me uncomfortable and I want to change that and my first response to discomfort is to desire food and to act on that desire without thinking. We all know that eating when not hungry is simply a minor distraction from the discomfort. And it often increases the discomfort level by adding guilt and remorse. I KNOW this. I don’t practice it.
So, for this moment, I’m living through the itch. I want to eat, but my hunger level indicates that food is not required by my body. So, I’m living through that itch. When my hunger level reaches the point that I know my body requires nourishment, I will eat. I’m not there yet.