I fasted for 30 hours this weekend. It was a juice and water fast that was a part of the mindfulness training through the 200-hour Registered Yoga Teacher training at Charm City Yoga. I learned a lot about myself and about our connection to food as a culture.
In our society, food is more than just sustenance. Food can be used as a means of self-expression, i.e. art. We also use food as a substitute for self-love in our culture, i.e. binge eating and overstuffing ourselves to repress emotions. The opposite is true as well. Sometimes food is used as a source of control, so we restrict our caloric intake to lose weight or to get back at someone we are angry with, i.e. our parents, or an abusive mate. Food can also be used as pleasure-seeking behavior; we can eat for the enjoyment of it. I can sometimes fall into the latter category. I learned this weekend that I have the capacity to eat more than I need to because I enjoy the taste of food.
Another thing I learned the most about myself from this experience was that the anxiety over potentially feeling hungry was way worse than the actual fast. As a culture, we can hold back from doing something because we are afraid. Personally, I have always been the type who tries to conquer her fears. I choose to live as freely as I possibly can.
Fears are natural. Our natural instinct to run from the things that scare us is a survival tactic. However, it is one thing to run away from an immediate life threatening situation, and it is quite another to let the fear control our everyday actions.
Fear can also be the anticipation of pain. When we let go of that fear and just experience a situation for what it is, we realize the anticipation of that which we fear is significantly worse than the actual experience.
Some people are scared to let go of their fear because the fear is at least comfortable. They are familiar with it. But when we contemplate life, we realize that it is one cosmic unknown. The old adage claims that there are no guarantees in life except death and taxes. So I ask you to ponder an idea: if life is one big mystery, why waste time feeling afraid of the unknown? Why not just accept what is and experience it?
Acceptance of the present moment allows us to grow, to relax and to enjoy life as much as we possibly can. In my opinion, life is too precious to waste. Even when I go through rough times, I always come out of them much better than before I experienced them.
I started this blog to share my journey with self-awareness. In becoming self-aware, it is important to ask ourselves a few questions. What is your relationship with food? Do you use food as a source of comfort? Do you eat more calories than your body needs because you enjoy the taste? Do you hold back on doing things in life because you are afraid?
If you fall into any of these categories, as I did, it is important to remember that you have the power to break bad habits. Acceptance and awareness of the habits are the first step. After that, it is a matter of acknowledging that which we do, and making conscious choices to better ourselves. Today, I will begin better eating habits with you. I acknowledge that I can eat more calories than I need because I enjoy the taste, and I choose to eat with more conscious awareness.