A Meditation For Your Body

852 Relax and Succeed - And I said to my bodyThank you to many of you for letting me know that your morning gratitude meditation is leading to you notice more things to be sincerely grateful for during your day. We’re not looking to trick ourselves, we just want to maintain an active understanding that our day is made up of what we occupy our mind with with. That’s why the meditation for week two was designed to draw attention to how much of our time our mind occupies with judging ourselves and others. This week we’re going to focus that even more to help you hone your meditating ability.

You’ll often think your mind can’t do something that it actually does all the time–it’s rare for us to consciously look at most of our daily moments. People will say they can’t keep a empty mind for even a second and then I’ll tell them to actively wait for their next thought and boom: empty mind, like a crane waiting to strike a fish.

852 Relax and Succeed - Is fat really the worst thingThis week you’re going to choose one aspect of yourself physically that you don’t like and that you regularly hide and/or criticize. Your waist, your hair, your eyebrows, your hands, your height, your wrinkles, your butt–it does not matter what it is as long as you criticize it a lot and it’s something physical. By being so focused you’ll have more success at noticing the thoughts you have about it.

Noticing them is one thing, stopping them is another. No one stops thinking/creating. It is not a matter of stopping our thinking it is a matter of shifting the content of our consciousness. We want to shift to open appreciation but that can be difficult at first so it is perfectly fine to stop at any better feeling along the way. So if you’re criticizing your physical self then you need to have some go-to appreciative thoughts about who and what you are. The act of replacing the critical thoughts with appreciative ones is a critical act of mental health.

859 Relax and Succeed - IntegrityDo not add to your negative thinking by criticizing yourself if you catch yourself thinking a historically negative thought. Recognize it as a success that the thought is now visible. It can now be hunted. You are aware of its existence. It needs you to survive. If you don’t bring it to life within your consciousness you don’t even have a need to divert your thoughts.

Remember, your suffering requires your participation. If you can’t quit beating yourself up entirely, at least leave yourself alone about this one thing for one week of your life. Seriously. You’ve easily earned it.

Be kinder to yourself and you will naturally become kinder to others which just as naturally leads to more positivity being shared with you. We can ride the thought spiral up or we can ride it down. It’s always up to us. Join me on the way up.

Ready? Figure out what it is, write it down and then for one solid week leave yourself alone. Start now.

Big hugs. You’ll do fine.

peace. s

Scott McPherson is an Edmonton-based writer, public speaker, and mindfulness facilitator who works with individuals, companies and nonprofit organizations around the world.

Addictive Behaviour

Through my years of practice I’ve had numerous addicts express the same curious concept to me: their addiction had a limit. Now not all addicts have the same limits, so while one person might be able to do one thing, another could do something else. So, for instance, one alcoholic couldn’t stay sober unless there was an event important to her daughter, yet in another case531 Relax and Succeed - And once the storm is over another alcoholic couldn’t stay sober even for a wedding, and yet they could if they were going to church.

There’s all sorts of forms of these limits. Crack users that stopped at needles even though they fully believed the next high would be even better. Or people who will crave painkillers but they won’t touch the one that killed their mother even if they’re jonesing. People that think they can’t control their eating and yet all day long they control their eating by making choices. I’ll give you a great example of that last one.

I like to travel by mixing with the locals and trekking etc. I think I’ve tried everything else except a cruise. I was once on a bus trip (that will seem so strange to my friends) in Europe. We arrived at a hotel where we picked up some other Canadians who had just landed late the night before. I was seated behind a woman who could be fairly described as obese. She got on the bus with a very large purse/bag, and in it she had an assortment of snacks like chips and cheezies and candies, and she shot through them very quickly.

Throughout the drive the woman was telling her seatmate all about her various attempts to lose weight. Each time she said she just did not have the will-power necessary to succeed. Keep that statement in mind for later in the trip when she’s run out of cheezies. Because as an inexperienced traveler she was shocked not to see all the brands and items she would expect to see at home. Everything looked different. She was fickle and she curled her nose in distaste. No. No, none of this will do. She’ll eat at the next stop.

531 Relax and Succeed - Believe in the powerThat happened stop after stop. She would go in, not recognize any of the packages for the foods that she ate, she would turn up her nose and she would leave without eating. There were other foods she recognized—like many chocolate bars—but she didn’t like those. She was craving a bag of Old Dutch chips or Hawkins Cheezies but they—especially way back then—didn’t have anything like that in Europe. They had their local brands. And so she went all day without eating. Not because there wasn’t crisps or chips or whatever. And not because there wasn’t chocolate in various forms and shapes. She didn’t because her thoughts told her not to. Her thoughts told her that those other foods weren’t foods because she didn’t like them. And so she does have will-power against food. She just doesn’t have it when it comes to her own thinking.

The simple fact is, that woman was hungry and there was food all over the place and yet she stopped herself by simply telling herself a story that there was no food she would accept. Because if she stayed in Europe long enough, eventually she’d get hungry enough and she would try some new things and she would eventually develop new favourites and then she would have the same problem she has now, only with European foods. The point is, on that bus trip her barriers to those foods are were made purely of thought. She didn’t believe those were foods for her so they weren’t. And until she changed that belief, turning those foods down was easy for her.

531 Relax and Succeed - Try notIf you’re battling an addiction you’re not really battling the substance or behaviour. You’re battling your thoughts about it. You see yourself as an addict and everything is weighed against that. That identity holds you back. Instead be no one. Study your thinking. Study your addictions and your restraints closely. Get to know them so well that you can see that they are subtle forms of the same idea. Your thoughts will lose power and control over you, and you will be able to exercise more volition over what you do with your time on this Earth.

Thinking you have no control is having no control. Knowing that you are capable of control means that it is simply a matter of enactment. Turn your wisdom into a verb. As Yoda said, “Do or not do. There is no try.” You don’t try to quit an addiction. You simply no longer see it as yours. Change who you think you are and a different life will seem more appropriate for you to live. Enjoy.

peace. s

Tortured by Weight

Can you write about over-eating? And I don’t mean eating disorders or people with actual medical issues, I mean people like me. People who eat as a way of coping with stress. I’m sitting here again at my desk today with a drawer full of unhealthy food and this really
has to stop before I start looking like the hippo my dragon mom is so worried about.

signed,
Tortured by Weight

Dear Tortured,

You have my condolences on having the Dragon Mom. I’m sure she’ll whip you toward some material success but, as you note, she might kill your spirit in the process. You can’t manufacture kids to meet specifications, you can only cultivate their seeds in an effort to help them realize their potential. All else will carry the sort of tension that leads to one having a drawer full of candy.376 Relax and Succeed - What a strange illusion

Let’s start with your Mom. Over time she has implanted ideas in your head that you are not worthy as yourself and you must achieve certain physical or material or social status and then you will become worthwhile. But your Mom is crazy and she’s lying to you. She didn’t mean to be crazy or to lie but she absolutely is. But she’s doing it just as innocently as you are. She got taught to do it and now you’re learning it too, and if you’re not careful you’ll extend that to your potential children in the very same way, so I’m glad you wrote. Let’s stop this unhealthy manufacturing before it pollutes too much of the environment.

I’m not worried about your weight. If we get you mentally healthy your weight will become whatever is natural for you. If people outside of you want to judge that then the problem isn’t with your weight—their problem is their judgment. So forget about weight and focus on health. What’s important is that you’re experiencing stress. Your reaction is just a symptom. We don’t battle symptoms on this blog, we focus on root causes.

It’s highly likely that the sneaking of food (it is in a drawer, hidden after all) was also taught by your Mom or someone she influenced, like a sister. It doesn’t really matter what the specifics of the math is, but the formula is essentially the same: if your mom was made to be ashamed of her weight and to feel guilty about eating then she would hide her eating and in doing so she would subtly teach the behaviour to you. You likely hold the phone the same way as your Mom, you likely speak, walk and stand like her too. You’re likely to buy the same brands—or avoid them—for the very same reasons. So this action isn’t you, it’s what you were programmed to do.

376 Relax and Succeed - I need to be skinnierEating is done for nourishment and/or joy. You have the caloric and nutrient value on one side, and you have taste and social interaction on the other. So there’s nothing wrong with eating per se. It’s necessary, important and worthwhile. But you want to eat in a way that enriches your life and not in a way that detracts from your life.

What you essentially have is an addiction. Not to food, but to the act of eating. This is much more like smoking than you might realize. Nicotine isn’t why most smokers can’t quit. The chemical aspect is relatively short-lived, the problem is in their thinking. They have triggers that will cue them to smoke. Times of day, collections of co-workers or friends, locations etc. etc. Smoking is weaved into their lives and they feel odd and “wrong” if they’re not doing it. This “wrongness” is merely a reaction to a thought dead-ending. It’s an actual sensation. You can feel it, as though you have left something out. If you always drive with your seatbelt, it’s like when you go to a foreign country that doesn’t have them—you almost feel naked riding in a car without one after the habit is formed. We wouldn’t say I’m addicted to seat belts and we wouldn’t run out to find a seat belt dealer on some dark corner, but it’s really the same thing. I have something my brain is used to and if it’s not there it notes the absence and I interpret that notation as discomfort.

So it might be helpful to figure out what your triggers are. Work stress, maybe mirrors, maybe a slim co-worker, maybe even a phone call from your Mom. However you slice it, your brain is very selectively collecting information all day long, and something you collect incites you to eat. Maybe you and I walk down a hallway where you work and I notice the pattern of the tiles on the floor and you notice and analyze the weight of the girl walking in front of us and you use your thoughts to compare yourself (likely unfavourably) to her. Start paying more attention to your thinking and you’ll find your triggers. But you need to get into the habit of actually actively listening to the narratives that make up your ego.

376 Relax and Succeed- Food is the most abused anxiety drugUsually before someone can simply Be healthy they need to un-ego their ego by arguing it out of existence. This act is meditation. You see that you are not over-eating, you are free and you are choosing to eat out of a kind of mimicry and blind repetition. You need to recognize this freedom and slowly break the habit by doing otherwise. This can be done in a variety of ways—maybe your reaction to these motivating thoughts are always met with a debate. Maybe you substitute another behaviour like exercise. It doesn’t really matter what you choose, as long as you’re breaking the unconscious pattern and challenging it, then you are rewiring the matrix in your brain that is this habit. You won’t be “getting healthy” though, you’ll just be “living differently.” The value judgments exist only in your consciousness—they are not things in and of themselves. Someone can eat creme pastries for every meal and die of heart disease at a young age, but if they enjoyed every minute of that then they got more joy out of life than most people do. There’s no right or wrong way to live, there’s just the way you choose and its consequences.

Can you see that you can’t sit there are try not to eat? Because that’s another way of thinking about eating, and that’s your actual problem. You have to change your thinking, not your eating habits. Otherwise you’re getting the cart before the horse. Simply put, you eat because you tell yourself to. You stop by telling yourself to do something else instead. Everything works that way. And yes, it really is that easy. The reason most people don’t try it is because they think the solution must be hard because they perceive that they have a big problem rather than a small thought issue.

I’m sorry your Mom got loaded with these crazy ideas and I’m sorry she downloaded them into you. I don’t even have to see you know you are divinely beautiful and worthwhile. You don’t need to achieve anything to be acceptable, you were acceptable when the universe deigned to collect a bunch of atomic-star-bits and 376 Relax and Succeed - You are beautifulassemble them into the energy-being that is you. Your existence alone is proof of your value. There is nothing you need from outside yourself, you just need to have a true sense of how miraculous it is that you exist at all. It’s a stunning gift that we all take so much for granted.

Eat because it tastes good. Exercise because it feels good. Enjoy other people’s company while you do both. But your thoughts about food and your thoughts about your value cannot be fixed by changing things in the outside world. Health is an internal issue. It’s a state of mind. And you don’t achieve it by wanting to be healthy because want is the core of the ego’s problem. You don’t become healthy, you realize health. You do that by refusing to think the thoughts of a person you are not. You are not the computer program your Mother programmed into your memory. You are the computer itself, and you can change your software whenever you become conscious that you are the hardware and not the software.

You are a flexing, changing, malleable, incredible being and yet you are talking as though you are some weak and fractured creature. This is a classic case of thinking small. Yeah, your Mom will still have her thoughts about how you look. But that’s her issue. She lives with those judgments. Let her have them. But don’t consume them yourself without checking to see how healthy they are. Because that’s about as helpful as a drawer full of candy.

peas. s 😉