The First Transition: Awareness

The transition from chapter 1 to chapter 2 is in this line: “I pretend I don’t see it.”

The key word here is pretend.

Pretending means that, on some level, you know the difference between the pretense and truth.  You may pretend you don’t see the “holes” (painful, repetitive situations) you get into around food.  Or you may be perfectly aware of the holes and yet pretend you don’t see how spending time in that hole impacts the rest of your life.

Awareness is the antidote to all forms of pretending.  As your awareness grows, pretending you don’t know anything about the hole gets harder and harder to do.

Awareness with food is getting your body and your mind in the same place, at the same time, doing a single thing.

These two tips may strengthen your awareness around food:

1. Establish physical clarity: when your body is eating, allow it to do nothing else. If your body is cutting into a steak, spearing some broccoli onto the fork, and then raising the fork to your lips, then that is all your body should be doing.  Your body, when eating, should not drive, walk, text, watch TV, sort the mail, fold the laundry, read, conduct a conference call, or do anything else that is unrelated to eating.

If/when this seems both really dumb and impossibly difficult, get curious!

How did you decide that eating was so ________ (Trivial? Dangerous? Boring?) that it needed a side activity to make it tolerable?

2. Get your mind to the meal: when your body is eating, invite your mind to be present for the occasion. If your body is seated at a table eating, why not invite your mind to be there as well?  Instead of dreaming about your next vacation, reminding yourself to pick up the dry cleaning, worrying about the overdue TPS report, or wondering when your brother is going to get his life together, gently bring your mind back to what your body is doing: eating.

If/when this seems both really dumb and impossibly difficult, get curious!

When your mind notices the temperature, texture, and taste of your food and pays attention to how your body feels as you eat, what changes about the experience of eating?  What do you like/dislike about having your mind show up for the meal?

I invite you to re-read Nelson’s poem, consider the tips on awareness above, and explore the questions:

What have I pretended I didn’t know about food?

What do I gain, and what do I lose, when I admit I see the “hole” before I fall in?