Self-mastery through Attentive Eating
Of all the subjects in existence, it is my considered opinion, after deep reflection, that what I am about to write in this booklet is perhaps THE most important subject. A subject which can radically change a person's life in all of its aspects - physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. - Attentive eating.
It seems strange to think that the manner in which one eats, the "how", can have such an important influence in one's life.
Once I grasped the "big idea", I tested it thoroughly in my own life and then recommended it to more than dozen patients and friends to compare its effects. Two of them were professional psychotherapists and they both were profoundly impressed and fascinated with. the results.
The utter simplicity of the technique caused many people to refuse to even believe that it could lead to important changes, resulting in the refusal to even try the method.
While the method is so simple in its essence, that even all of the lowliest creatures practice it instinctively, yet, man is so conditioned in his habits, that he has to unlearn his present method of eating and relearn what he once knew thousands of years ago.
Even if a person refuses to change his diet to higher quality foods and insists on remaining with his present conventional diet, still, he will experience profound changes in all aspects of his life by applying the technique to his or her life.
So let us not delay any further - let us penetrate this mystery.
ANIMALS EAT WITH FULL ATTENTION
The basic needs and instincts of all living creatures are air, water and food, clothing and shelter - with food as the most basic. All life everywhere knows its needs in food to survive and every creature on this earth knows how to eat. It is an inborn instinct which does not need to be learned and it is present from the moment of birth onward - in one-celled life forms (amoeba) up to the largest animal forms in existence.
All of these living creatures, eat in the same manner. They eat with full attention, chew their foods as much as is necessary for the species and are fully absorbed in the taste of the food while they are eating it. When the sensual enjoyment of the taste begins to recede and disappear, they stop eating and walk away from the food fully content.
This enjoyment of the food, closely interlocked with the taste of the food, is how the bodily instinct guides the animal to cease eating when the body's needs are fully provided for. All living creatures have been faithfully guided by this sense of taste instinct since the beginning of time and there has never been a problem with it.
Why no problem? - Because they all eat the same way - with full attention, totally immersed in the taste of the food, even closing their eyes to avoid distraction, and ceasing when the sense of taste begins to lose its enjoyment. Even all little insects eat with total attention.
When the attention is divided, say for example, watching TV while eating, emotions and feelings are aroused which conflict with the ideal digestive atmosphere.
This inhibits gastric and digestive secretions needed to digest the food optimally.
The great sensual enjoyment of eating, which is so basically important to the body and emotions necessary to inner happiness, is largely bypassed, because the attention is on something different than the taste of the food.
The result is that - since the taste enjoyment is largely reduced or eliminated, the body is unable to signal the eater when to stop. So the person eats, mechanically stuffs himself and stops only when the discomfort of the distended stomach signals its protest….
Eating without awareness or attention - invariably leads to overeating and dismissing the important role of the taste of the food in directing us to stop eating when we have had enough to satisfy the body's needs.
FOOD AS DRUG
It is a known fact that stuffing oneself with food causes most of the blood to leave the brain and enter the stomach area to digest the food. This dulls and drugs the mind and effectively shuts off the thinking process, acts as an emotional anesthesia, effectively allowing us to escape from thoughts and feelings of inferiority, sorrow, loneliness, regret, boredom, guilt pressure, fear, low self-esteem, self-hatred, etc.
Unfortunately, using food as an escape mechanism from emotional problems only drives the problems in the unconscious mind temporarily.
Suppressing these problems causes them to burst forth into the consciousness with increased force, demanding attention from the conscious mind until they are properly dealt with.
They can be released and eliminated by facing them squarely with full attention and being willing to feel them totally without attempting to escape the pain involved. Often within minutes, they begin to weaken and dissipate in intensity.
Persistence, courage and repetition lead to success and freedom.
CONTENTMENT AND BLISS
You are able to leave the table feeling such profound contentment and bliss that it carries over into your emotions for hours after eating. You will find your disposition to be one of great contentment, peace and kindness when talking to others. You will find yourself happy for almost no special reason you can think of. You will not find yourself impelled or driven into social relationships due to a feeling of emptiness, because.your intense sensual enjoyment of your food has brought you into a state of utter tranquility.
Since you have not overeaten, you do not feel sleepy and your mind feels fresh and capable of thought and work, if necessary. Your sleep is more restful, dreams are more pleasant, Your personality will change drastically.
Since you are in a state of utter contentment, you will radiate your feelings outwardly in expressions of kindness and love - rather than in impatience, irritability, sarcasm as previously, before you changed your eating habits.
I am sure that the reader at this moment feels that all this is pure exaggeration. It doesn't seem possible that such a simple act could lead to such a revolutionary change in all your feelings and behavior. Yet, I must insist that not only is there no exaggeration, but rather, I am trying to hold back and understate my expressions of the wonderful and profound effects of this very simple practice.
It is a fact that the less you eat, the longer you live, the slower you age, and the more energy is available for physical and mental work. The body has more energy left for detoxication and rejuvenation.By eating with attention, you will be satisfied with very much less, 40 to 60% of before, and you will digest and assimilate more from less food.
The amount of energy you will save by eating and digesting less will be enormous. Within a few weeks you will see more youthful changes in your appearance. Your mind and feelings will soar with inspiration which will carry over into all your thoughts and activities.
BREAKING FREE FROM COMPULSIVE EATING
Geneen Roth in her book, "Breaking Free From Compulsive Eating" (a Signet Book) advocates eating anything you desire, whenever you like, even junk food with one condition - that you eat it slowly, chew it thoroughly, and eat it with total attention and without distraction. The result is that you are quickly satisfied with a small amount before you stop eating.
She claims that since she was free to eat anything at will, but with attention, the thoughts of food gradually began to vanish, leaving her free for a much more active social life and relationships. The previous suppression of her appetites had led to obsession with food.
THE BOOK OF SECRETS
Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh in vol. 3 of "The Book of Secrets", containing Discourses on Vigyana Bhairava Tantra on the ancient scripture on Tantra by Lord Shiva (in 5 vols. ) which contain all of 112 meditation techniques known, has this to say on p.19:
The fifth technique.
"When eating or drinking, become the taste of the food or drink, and be filled."
We go on eating things; we cannot live without them. But we eat them very unconsciously, automatically, robotlike. If the taste is not lived, you are just stuffing. Go slow, and be aware of the taste. And only when you go slow can you be aware. Do not just go on swallowing things. Taste them unhurriedly and become the taste.
When you feel sweetness, become that sweetness. And then it can be felt all over the body - not just in the mouth, not just on the tongue; it can be felt all over the body. 'A certain sweetness' is spreading in ripples - or anything else.
"Whatsoever you are eating, feel the taste and become the taste."
---- Tantra says taste it as much as possible; be more sensitive, alive. And not only be sensitive: become the taste.
"With avoidance of taste, your senses will be deadened."
They will become less and less sensitive. And with less sensitivity, you will not be able to feel your body, you will not be able to feel your feelings. Then you will just remain centered in the head. This centeredness in the head is the split. Tantra says do not create any division within yourself. It is beautiful to taste; it is beautiful to be sensitive. And if you are more sensitive you will be more alive, and if you are more alive, then more life will enter your inner being. You will be more open.
"You can eat things without tasting; you can touch someone without touching; it is not difficult."
"When eating or drinking, become the taste of the food or drink, and be filled by the taste;"
When drinking water, feel the coolness. Close your eyes, drink it slowly, taste it. Feel that you have become that coolness; it is becoming a part of your body. Allow its ripples to spread, and you will feel a coolness all over your body.
In this way your sensitivity can grow, and you can become more alive and more filled.
We are feeling frustrated, vacant - empty, and we go on talking that life is empty. But we are the reason. We are not filling it and we are not allowing anything to fill it.
We have an armour around us - a defense armour, We are afraid to be vulnerable, so we go on defending against everything. And then we become tombs - dead things.
CHAOS BECOMING SYMPHONY
The emphasis is on feeling because the emphasis is on a "lived" experience. When you start feeling things, you grow: your being grows.
Right now you are chaotic because there is no arrangement: the arrangement comes in when you start being aware. Just by being aware things start falling in line, and this chaos that you are becomes a symphony.
MEDITATION OVER FOOD
For those who practice meditation, the use of eating as a meditation is the easiest of all meditations to master. We, as all living creatures, are thoroughly experienced in eating, a practice we have done all our lives, several times a day since birth. It does not involve difficult concentration as ordinary meditation techniques do.
The pleasure involved in eating, automatically holds the interest of attention, almost effortlessly. This is the reason why this eating technique of meditation has been held in especially high regard by the most ancient practitioners of Tantra - since its practice leads to a profound transformation in a relatively short period of time, with a minimum of effort.
Every time you eat, several times a day, you'll be practicing meditation and this leads to rapid progress and attainment when done with your full attention.
The great pleasure resulting from satisfying such a most basic instinct as eating leads to a tremendous inner peace, joy and bliss which spreads over all the feelings and emotions, both conscious and subconscious. The resulting happiness leads to a persistent satisfaction with all of life, which keeps constantly growing and spreading in intensity.
It may seem greatly exaggerated to most persons, but it must be actually experienced, not intellectually considered, to be believed. The idea that such a simple practice could lead to such profound changes in feeling is difficult to conceive. Yet, these results are the legacy experienced by the unsophisticated and unintellectual creatures or all creation.