One of the first things I discovered when I started teaching mindful eating back in 2007 was that people came to class for the same reason people came to my stress reduction class–they were suffering, often because they were looking outside of themselves for happiness and peace.
People who struggle with how to eat and how to look are reacting to external pressures from the diet culture, from mass marketing, from the commercialization of our food and bodies, and from the Hollywood myth of beauty, just to name a few. People who struggle with anxiety and stress are often reacting to their environment as well. We have been sold the idea that we need to do more, have more, be more successful, and be more perfect.
The underlying belief is that we are not okay unless we lose weight, never age, get a better job, have a bigger house, buy a faster car, have high achieving children, etc. Of course, whatever we do, it is never enough. The consumerization of our lives has the secret motto of “seek but do not find.” The minute you think you’ve gotten what you want, there is always something else that you need.
To illustrate, I have been given permission to post the story of a recent Eat for Life graduate that illustrates my point. Here is Gideon’s story.
I took an unplanned trip to the shopping district this evening, and I noticed the urge to reward myself with a bubble tea. And I was going through reasons not to feed that craving (it’s too sweet, it’s not as good as I remember it from my pre-mindful years, the milk will hurt my stomach) when I hit upon something that felt profound: It won’t make me happy.
Happiness doesn’t come from consumption. Not from buying things, not from eating things, not from watching things. Those are all pleasures but pleasure is not happiness.
There’s nothing wrong with pleasures, in appropriate doses. But we need to recognize them for what they are: sensations, and sensations only! They’re not love, they’re not self-acceptance, they’re not any of the things we try to get out of them.
Happiness comes from within. All I need to be happy is to be able to disentangle from my cravings and just exist in this glorious, temporary, embodied existence that I have. I don’t believe in any gods, but this is one of those moments when I glimpse why people do. When the universe reaches out and touches me with an incredible gift like this, I can’t help but bow my head and say “thank you.”
If you want to discover important truths for yourself, join me for the next Eat for Life program starting in September. Or, if you are a professional who wants to teach people mindfulness through eating, this is the first step in your certification. All of the information about the class is here.
Here is just a little of what will you learn:
Mindfulness. Every day there will be a practice that will bring you closer in touch with yourself and your real source of happiness.
How to give up the myths of the diet culture. Some of the myths include your happiness and health are determined by your weight, you can’t eat what you want, there are good foods and bad foods, and you must be a certain number on the scale.
How to deal with your thoughts and emotions using mindfulness. You bring your whole being to the table when you eat, and that includes your thoughts and emotions. Mindfulness can teach you how to be with thoughts and emotions with kindness, compassion, and wisdom. The result is that no thought or emotion needs to result in uncomfortable overeating
How to really taste your food. One of the most profound things I’ve heard from an Eat for Life participant after one week of class is “I don’t like anything I eat but I just hadn’t noticed before.” We are living on autopilot and our eating demonstrates this. Find out what your taste buds and belly are telling you when you eat.
How to trust yourself. So much of our difficulties with food have resulted from listening to outside sources about what, when, why, and how to eat. Learn to turn your attention inward and find the source of your greatest wisdom.
My mindful eating classes teach you how to love yourself and discover important truths about life through the act of eating. You will eat, move, and live in ways that reflect deeper respect for your being. It’s like learning to be your own best friend. And through that caring, you will learn to thrive.
I hope you join me on the journey!