As Iíve moved through the myriad small experiences that typically add up to what I call Ďmy lifeí Iíve become aware of a subtle conversation Iím having with myself; my own personal Muzak, if you will. But before I share with you what the conversation that has been making itself known to me is all about, let me provide you with a bit of context about how the past few days havenít been ordinary ones for me.
For some time now I havenít been happy with the way Iíve been feeling in my body: frequently achy and creaky in the joints, with a mind that too often feels like someone has placed little bits of cotton wool between the cogs! Nothing drastically wrong, but just feeling like the old organic bioprocessor wasnít keeping up with the demands of life like it used to. I tried exercising and while it helped, I didnít feel better about life. Getting extra sleep didnít seem to make much difference either. I cut out alcohol, sugar and caffeine which helped a bit but didnít get me back to operating the way I recall as ďthe real GwenĒ. I was beginning to wonder if those days were just a distant memory!
And then a good buddy and I decided to engage an11-day cleansing fast. Iíll spare you all the grim details of what goes into my mouth and what doesnít these days, but suffice it to say that itís not a lot. Iím day 8 into the process and am extremely grateful to have a companion on the journey because it hasnít felt easy. Physically I am feeling wonderful: I feel energized and Iím sleeping better. I feel like I ďseeĒ the world more clearly. My aches and pains have disappeared and despite it being peak gardening season all the bending and stooping is having little affect on my joints. Physically I donít even feel all that hungry.
But mentally it is a whole other kettle of fish. Iíve become aware of just how many of my thoughts are related to food: buying it; preparing it; serving it; eating it. Iíve also noticed the incredible volume of food commercials (as well as digestion related pharmaceuticals) on TV. And there have been a few times when Iíve ďsnuckĒ some treats.
I use that word advisedly because I havenít really ďsnuckĒ them. Iíve been very open and above board about it. But Iíve been aware inside that it feels like I am sneaking things; pulling the wool over the eyes of some nameless authority figure. Iíve also discovered an inner conversation of defiance associated with Ďsneakingí the treats (when did a raw carrot become a treat, I wonder?) And I realize that I am being defiant towards that same nameless authority figure Öwho really is me. Because Iím the one who made the decision to interrupt my typical eating patterns so I donít have anyone else to defy or be resentful of for my being in this place.
Now thereís an insight for me to work with and allow my body to relax into and see what else there is to be discovered in all of this. Who is this imaginary authority figure that is a part of me? How does she serve me? How does she work to keep me in line? In what way is it all backfiring on me because I end up doing the opposite of what the authority figure wants out of belligerence, defiance and resentment? But I think processing that insight by deeply exploring where these questions fire off in my body will best wait until I am back eating regularly and my body is not so preoccupied with conversations about the absence of food.
Interestingly I have come to a place over these 8 days where I am having the undeniable experience of the presence of the absence of something. By that I mean that in the absence of food I have become aware of the presence of something else. That conversation I mentioned in my opening paragraph.
And it goes something like this:
In having made this choice to fast, I am aware of how much I enjoy everything in my life associated with food. I am missing my early Saturday morning trips to the grocer where I get to revel in the sensuousness of selecting fresh fruits, vegetables, meats, cheeses and breads. I am missing my daily check-ins with my body and my husband to decide what weíll eat for dinner. I am missing the moment of inspiration when an actual meal plan comes together in my head. And I am missing the pleasure of scraping, peeling, chopping, sautťing, braising, smelling, tasting and seasoning the meals that delight us both.
Iím actually missing those processes much more than Iím missing the food itself. Although I do admit that what is also present in the absence of food is a heightened awareness of how refreshing it is to crunch into a juicy apple or munch through a crispy salad, how satisfying it is to sip a hot soup or savor a hearty stew.
I know that when the weekend arrives Iíll return to my life altered from this experience. Iím already aware that there are certain food choices that will no longer appeal. But more importantly, I know that those very ordinary moments in my unfolding life wonít seem so ordinary anymore. Iíll appreciate all those trips for groceries; Iíll delight even more in warm summer evenings with the barbeque blazing; Iíll treasure the scent of the herbs I collect from my tiny garden patch all the more. Iíll recognize and honor within myself the importance that food has in my life Önot simply for acquiring nutrition and sustenance Öbut as a crucible for processes that are soothing, nurturing, creative and invitational. And at some point when I have relaxed into these wonderful daily experiences, Iíll call up my defiance of that part of me that is the authority figure and Iíll make friends with it. Öand then Iíll get to see what else becomes possible for me.
Copyright Gwen McCauley, 2006
Gwen McCauley: educator, coach, artist, author, facilitator and ‘employee to entrepreneur’ veteran brings wit, wisdom and worldly experience to Self discovery as her clients explore expanded creativity, career and life transitions, and leadership. Co-founder of the WEL-Systems® Institute, Gwen is a CODE Model Coach™ and Quantum TLC™ Facilitator. She has a BA in Anthropology and an MA in Human Systems Intervention.
Gwen published “The Alchemy of Energy –Exploring The CODE Model™” in 2004. “Splish Splash -- Painting for Personal Discovery” a primer for budding artists is due Summer 2006. Gwen’s numerous workshops and articles are available at www.wel-systems.com.
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