Of course, like all things we desire to shift - the first step is to stop trying to fight it. We need to accept what a huge set of patterns we are looking at. The urge to eat, overeat, reactively under eat, and judge our physical state is so basic one could argue there is no point going at it head on.
So what do we do? How do we use our meditation practice to shift this complex relationship? The first thing is to take the practice off of our cushion. This is not the kind of thing that locking ourselves away for an extended period of time is going to fix. Micro practices throughout the day are essential to seeing our mind’s movement around these issues. There are many practices that work, but the best are ones that incorporate the body and/or breath. A shift into body consciousness is essential to seeing these patterns in real time.
So many meditators have mastered states of altered consciousness on the cushion that bring them out of the body. The energy of eating however is part of the body. It is only by dropping into the breath and feeling the body over and over again that allows us to see our inescapable urge towards food - and more importantly our thinking about food. Our mind is used to having food thoughts 24/7 so it is easy for us to ignore them - it’s already a habit.
Once meditators find this rhythm of micro practice, their awareness expands. Still surprised by the fact that they haven’t really taken this on before, I’m happy to say that most people come to the same conclusion: They have the ability to make choices around food once they are aware. A choice to be grounded in reality, which includes the body, breath, and mind. Once here, we can choose to ignore, counter, manipulate, or simply be present with our powerful thoughts. Then we can decide if eating will bring us toward or away from nourishment.
I encourage all meditators to take a look at their relationship to food.
And if it’s tricky maybe spend a little time opening up to the thoughts, feelings, and body states that arise throughout the day. Our practice both on and off the cushion will shift us - little by little - to a place of peace and nourishment around food.
Listen to a sample guided exercise from Brandt’s new CD Being at Peace with Food from More Than Sound by clicking here.