Saturday morning I woke up at almost 3 and I couldn’t go back to sleep because my back hurt no matter what position I tried sleeping in. The past few months I have been trying to maintain a posture that is at least functional and also trying to improve it. When I removed it from my main focus at the end of August it started sliding. It fell too far.
I did not panic. I knew that the narrative collapsing is not my life collapsing. It just meant back to one day at a time. When the sun came up I went on with my life. I was excited for the day and looked forward to going to a vegan food market. When I was home again that afternoon I took a nap. And woke up 5 hours later still dressed. Then I stood up and went through my normal bedtime routine.
The narrative was totally dead. I knew that I had to change in a major way. Probably sit a lot less and a lot of physio. I could not finish matric, read books and blog sitting down. Maybe a standing desk? Or voice dictation for the blogging? I did not know.
My foundations were incomplete and I knew that they might not be strong enough to build on. I had hoped to shore them up while also building higher, but that had not worked. So collapse, and then start from the beginning. Resisting it would not make it better. We need a strong body, or at least not a weak one, to focus on higher things, like mathematics or blogging.
The week before last I didn’t have a book review. Last week I also did not have a book review. The pace has become unsustainable.I do not get to reading a book every week and writing a book review on it. I am choosing other things that feel more important above reading. I’m now officially ending my commitment to have a book review out every Thursday.
Premise: food is always related to what is happening in the rest of our life because the source of our energy is so central to where that energy flows.
Discipline in our life will lead to having discipline in our food.
Fear, stress or anxiety will lead to weight gain or loss.
We associate having or not having food with all the other things in life: whether we are worthy, whether we can have what we want, scarcity and abundance. Sometimes we are starving for some fun or happiness and try to fill the void with food.
If we eat well we have a lot of energy and can run joyfully after our goals and aspirations. If we eat badly we always feel tired and struggle just to maintain our current stuckness and homoeostasis. Eating toxic, non-nutritive food disturbs our sleep and fogs our mind. We lose our emotional sensitivity and as a result, we allow our lives to fill with noxious relationships.
If ate better we would be unable to ignore our emotions when they tell us that “this is not right”. On some level, we know this so we avoid detoxing altogether.
Inflow and outflow of energy are intimately connected. Food is a drug, and different foods have wildly differing effects on our digestion and overall life flavour. Chemically and biologically different foods change us to an enormous extent. The bacteria found on fruit, potatoes and steak are not the same yet some people insist on calling food, food. Without taking into account what type it is.
If eating badly is self-sabotage then it is a lot more common then suddenly there is a whole new perspective on life. Then the obesity epidemic (along with a more silent depression epidemic) is not really about food, but about the other things in life. About the type of society that they are in. If bad eating habits are a form of self-sabotage then there is a massive and growing proportion of the population that is resisting life.
Eating with people is a big thing. When people eat together they synchronize, even more than just speaking to each other. We consume roughly the amount of food that the other person consumes. Almost every social occasion has snacks. They give people something to do with their hands, prevent people from ravenous hunger and most importantly help people bond.
In primitive times, people sharing their food with you could be the difference between thriving, thriving or starving. It was a big deal.
We influence each other a lot with our food choices. Somebody that you do not even know may become obese and it will affect your weight if they are a friend of your friend.
People who do personal development do so for different reasons, but I think that without losing too much information we can discern a few basic categories: Self-esteem, next level and struggle.
People who do not feel good enough. They feel unworthy of their life and blame their own inadequacy every time something does not go their way. They grasp at personal development as a cure-all panacea that will solve all their problems and make them finally worthy. This never happens. No amount of external achievement will make someone believe that they are worthy when they do not think they are. There is always something bigger, better, faster that if they could just achieve they would be worthy. They believe that life will be happy and without strain or struggle.
Achievement lies on a spectrum. There is an absolute minimum. There is a limit on how bad your life can get. On the upside, the limit has not ever been found. Human history is the story of growing, plateauing, decaying. These last two hundred years has been a story of up, into the clouds and higher. So there is always somebody doing something better than you or doing more.
These people come to personal development because they are not okay. Many keep chasing the next fad and never realise that being okay comes from inside. Some realise that they are okay and then keep going from a place of already good enough.
Success, now what?
People who achieve conventional success by getting a high-status job, making a lot of money or reaching the top in their respective field. Sportstars, pop singers, karate masters and CEOs. They feel lost or like they hit a plateau from which they can’t seem to break through.
They seek to go to the next level or do something that brings them more fulfilment. Their old passions no longer excite them or they feel stuck in a rut. They crave the novelty of being a beginner once more but don’t know where to start.
Nothing works. Make it work!
People who have a big problem that resists their every effort to solve. They can’t keep the weight off, their relationships are hell, they hate their job, they have anger management issues, they keep fighting with their children.
The only way these people solve their problem is if they face the truth and drastically change. When they stop resisting the problem they can start solving it. It still takes time as they have to train the necessary skills but they usually solve them if they persist.
Some people refuse the truth and nobody can help them until they become willing to change. Those who do look back after a few years and are astounded at how far they have come.
I have been all three of these at different times. Low-self esteem because I blamed myself for feeling isolated and lonely. Success because getting good marks had been easy and the schoolwork was frequently boring. Nothing works because I overlooked the many things that were working perfectly. Because life has inherent trade-offs and there will always be more over the horizon that you can chase after and delay your happiness indefinitely.
I am sure as time goes by I will refine and update these categories, but for now they are useful.
To happiness, and beyond!
This past weekend I attended a great hypnotherapy course at the conscious healing centre in Sandton. It was presented by Arno Stadler with much assistance from Brigette Bowles.
On previous hypnotherapy courses that I have attended there I was surprised and curious to see how much energy and attention I spent deciding whether or how much to eat of the biscuits that were usually laid out with the coffee and tea.
My higher self didn’t want to eat them because they are not that healthy and I wanted to perform at my best, uncrippled by bad eating habits.
My inner child just wanted to munch them up. I saw it as a rare opportunity to get cookies. *Sarcastically* which you know is such a rare and hard to get a hold of item.
Every time it was a struggle. I would not eat them, but with regret. I would eat them, and regret it. I would compromise and feel unsatisfied.
The Saturday was the first day of the course. At the first tea break, I didn’t eat any of the biscuits. The inner dialogue went something along the lines of: ” I can eat them anytime I want, but right now I don’t want to eat them so I won’t.” How much of that was true and how much just rationalisation I do not know. A large part of the discomfort I felt was that I became unsure of what I wanted and no longer trusted myself fully.
At lunch, I did eat some of the biscuits. If I had not eaten some the mental negotiation and compromise I had would have been completely shredded. It would have been an invitation for anarchy. Having a partially satisfied inner child still allowed you to function. If your inner child was in open rebellion, good luck mate. It was around first, can throw tantrums and hates being forced. So the first day ended almost in a draw, almost in conflict. Unease was in the air of the metaphorical saloon where my subconscious played the piano with a wary eye and a six-shooter within easy reach.
The second day dawned and all the players were darting glances and shifting around nervously. Harmony was far from view. Figuratively.
To practically show us all how it really looks to do a resource state they would demonstrate by doing a session on one of us. Somebody was getting bonus therapy. Out of the 18 people there, 5 of us were willing or eager to be the guinea-pigs. You were not allowed to vote for yourself. When the votes were counted I had seven and the nearest had six. I was getting the front row seat.
One of us did the relaxation and then Arno took over. He set up Ideomotor signalling, which is just asking me to choose fingers for yes, no and I don’t know yet. So if I am deeply relaxed and don’t want to speak I can just twitch a finger. Then he asked if I had permission and support from my subconscious. I did not. Asking we found out that I would only have support as long as I was safe.
Then he led me on a visualisation where I spoke to my inner child and hugged him. He wasn’t feeling happy. He wanted me to play more. He wanted to have fun. He could have things just because he wanted to. There was no need for him to earn it. And not having fun was a lot worse to me than the minimal effects that I would feel from eating biscuits.
After crying and to-and-fro I could take my inner child’s hand and have him follow me to play. After the session, I ate biscuits and enjoyed them. I also asked the girl there for a kiss that I had wanted to do for some time. She said no, but I still felt so much better for asking.
Now I will tell of what happened earlier the day.
One of the guided meditations we did as a group was one where you forgive. You forgive other people, they forgive you and you forgive yourself. Because it’s hypnosis, the forgiveness is on an emotional level instead of the mental/verbal level that we usually forgive somebody.
The experience that each of us had varied wildly. Some were more bizarre than the average dream, some were just pleasant journeys of the imagination. All of us had emotional reactions. The instructors were well prepared with tissues. Another person and I cried hard.
A short description of what the meditation was: The normal introduction to focus on the person’s voice and allow yourself to be guided. Relaxation deepener. Then imagining a place that pleases us. Finding 3 doors. Entering each. In the one all the people that you have to forgive. Another with people who forgive you. The last with a mirror where you forgive yourself.
The room with the mirror was where most of the action happened for me. I had done other meditations before where you imagine yourself during different times of your life. Eg. five years ago, next year, five years from now. I experienced/ imagined something similar that time. In the mirror, I saw many selves. three or four were of me when I was younger. Forgiving my younger selves was emotional but not overwhelming.
I also saw older versions of myself. One a young adult somewhere in his twenties. The other old(to me), maybe forty years old. Trying to forgive them was overwhelming. I cried harder and tissues aplenty were needed. The group moved on to a visualisation of absorbing a rainbow but I was still caught up in the images of myself. Leaving each room we could imagine a book with the names of those we could not yet forgive.
The collective journey was over and I opened my eyes. Tears were still seeping out and I could feel a lot left to release. People shared their experiences and there was interesting variety but I was still focussing on myself. One other person was also not yet done crying. When I got more tissues they were used instantly. Then I left the room to continue crying.
I was crying for the pain and the mistakes. I knew that despite trying my best, despite the best intentions, I would still fail. Behind the intellectual rationalising, “There are no mistakes, only feedback.”; “Failing is part of life” There would be failure. I will still fail in life. It will still be terrible. It will still hurt deeply. All the personal strength or development will not change that. If I wanted to avoid such pain I would have to also cut myself off of some of the greatest joy and deepest satisfaction that one can feel. I would be blunted emotionally. We need the contrast. A permanent upside is no upside at all. And I no longer do that. I know that to be an adult you have to be able to cry like a child.
Despite or because of meta-cognition, trying to keep my life in the right rhythm I will still at times dance with completely the wrong rhythm. Sometimes it will go terribly. It will be okay, but still terrible. I didn’t know if the pain would be mine, caused by me, or felt for someone. There and then I just felt the pain and allowed the emotion to flow.
I also felt pain from my past. Pain that I had buried, lied about to myself or fled to distraction. I cried on my own. I was raised as a Christian and have been an atheist for a long time but I beseeched god. Not God as an omnipotent paternal Christian but god as the song of the world, the spirit and meaning of the Universe. I asked why I had been left alone. The answer I got from myself was that I needed to learn to how to dance on my own.
I did not believe in destiny years ago, but these days I do. Even if destiny is just our unconscious actions and beliefs.
After a while which felt like the perfect amount of time, Lance and Katya came out to comfort me. It was soothing to be held by Katya while Lance stood by. Thank you both. Knowing that we go through life with other people and that they can hold you when it hurts is worth an absolute fortune.
After a while, it faded and I no longer cried. I had accepted, mostly released and was ready to move on. The rest of the course went without special mention.
That night I went to an event and really enjoyed connecting with the people there. I feel that the more connected and accepting I am of myself the better I connect to others.
This course was sooo beneficial for me and I am grateful and excited that I will be able to share even a fraction of the experience with others as well. The people are so supportive and I feel a kinship of spirit with them. The presenters are excellent at what they do. The venue and setup are good. It’s awesome that I can access the feeling of being on top of the world anytime or place now.
To happiness, and beyond!