December 13th 2012 - What a concept—allowing food to serve us! Masses are losing peace over food. Some of us feel like slaves to our diet. Many of us feel frustrated by our seeming inability to control our food intake and manifest the body we desire. Some of us engage in an unconscious search for an "Eden" where we can eat whatever we want (save apples) without consequence. And some of us have simply given up as our weight climbs (or drops) and health declines. With all the angst and effort around weight, eating and health, food that serves us is needed. Let us welcome it with joyous, open minds.
In this time of tremendous mass focus on issues of body weight, food, eating and health, information is so plentiful it can hardly be avoided. For many people this focus and an abundance of food has become a prison instead of liberation. The more obsessed we are, the heavier we grow. We seem to have a bad case of "What-You-Focus-On-EXPANDS."
The key that unlocks the prison of our obsession with weight and diet is forged with:
• an adjustment to our motivation for a healthy body weight toward the spiritual, and,
• the inclusion of spiritual practice in our plans for eating.
"Food" pertains to much more than what we eat. We nourish or starve ourselves with what we choose to think, hear, see, speak and do. We nourish or starve ourselves with relationships and environments—home, work, friendships and hang-outs. And, of course, we can nourish or starve ourselves with our relationship to edibles. Many of us starve ourselves with quantities of food both large and small because we have developed an especially unholy relationship with food and eating.
Despite ample evidence to the contrary, a practical, healthy body weight is attainable. The solution is not simply physical (eating and exercise strategies) and mental/emotional (how you think and feel about food and how you handle emotions in relation to eating). The solution is also spiritual. In fact, if we faithfully address the spiritual aspect of eating issues, the other aspects will quite naturally fall into a place of balance with far less effort. This balance will occur because of our consciousness.
Issues with eating are spiritual issues because eating gone awry always involves the inner void. Problematic eating—eating without ease—may range from having elements of addiction to being a full-blown, life-threatening addiction. Addiction is always about trying to fill an inner emptiness with some "thing" of the world. That "thing" seems to work temporarily, so we do it again. . . and again. . . and again. But "things" do not fill our emptiness sufficiently or permanently so we are left with an oscillating sense of perpetual want, at times wanting more, at times wanting less. This dissatisfaction becomes the dis-ease of addiction.
If you eat as naturally as you breathe this article may not interest you. If you last overate at Thanksgiving dinner 1989 and enjoy vibrant good health, feel utterly content with your weight and whatever you choose to put into your mouth, if you feed your body lovingly, non-addictively and sufficiently then it is quite likely that you eat to live. Food plays a natural role as a source of fuel and pleasure in your life. You are not acting out the unholy trinity of sin, guilt and fear with food in the horror classic, "Revenge of the I'm-a-Body Believers."
Kenneth Wapnick, the renowned, prolific, first scholar of A Course in Miracles (ACIM) www.facim.org , defines the "unholy trinity" of sin, guilt and fear as a set of beliefs, part of the insane thought system that arises from the insane belief that "a part of perfect Oneness could separate from the Whole." We can characterize the unholy trinity as a template applied to the physical world, a cyclical sequence of events spiraling out from the impossible "separation:"
1. Sin – the error of our belief in separation from God and love.
2. Guilt – our reaction of self-judgment to our error weighted by the belief that the consequences are real—that God and love have been damaged.
3. Fear – our reaction to our belief in guilt because, in separation from God, we believe guilt deserves and results in punishment.
Does this unholy trinity remind you of the modern mass attitude toward food and the roller coaster of dieting? The sinful "bad" foods, our self-conscious guilt when we eat them and our frantic fear of the punishment—being unlovable and unworthy by virtue of having an unattractive, unhealthy body?
All manner of guilt cascades from the primal guilt of the separation. Corollary guilt includes shame around our dense bodies and bodily functions, including eating, eliminations and sexuality. And we are most certainly harboring a collective guilt about the consumption of flesh:
And in their native planes all creatures are supplied with nourishment from the ethers of their planes.
And so it was with every living thing until the will became a sluggish will, and then the ethers of the protoplast, the earth, the plant, the beast, the man, began to vibrate very slow.
The ethers all became more dense, and all the creatures of these planes were clothed with coarser garbs, the garbs of flesh, which men can see; and thus this coarser manifest, which men call physical, appeared.
And this is what is called the fall of man; but man fell not alone for protoplast, and earth, and plant and beast were all included in the fall.
The angels and the cherubim fell not; their wills were ever strong, and so they held the ethers of their planes in harmony with God.
Now, when the ethers reached the rate of atmosphere, and all the creatures of these planes must get their food from atmosphere, the conflict came; and then that which the finite man has called, survival of the best, became a law,
The stronger ate the bodies of the weaker manifests; and here is where the carnal law of evolution had its rise.
And now man, in his utter shamelessness, strikes down and eats the beasts, the beast consumes the plant, the plant thrives on the earth, the earth absorbs the protoplast.
In yonder kingdom of the soul this carnal evolution is not known, and the great work of master minds is to restore the heritage of man, to bring him back to his estate that he has lost, when he again will live upon the ethers of his native plane.
(The Aquarian Gospel of Jesus the Christ, Chapter 32:28-36)
Wake Up and Smell the Divine Food Wafting In on the Ethers
If you notice that you engage in eating that is compulsive, unconscious, emotional or self-punitive (starvation, over-stuffing or eating food that you know is unhealthy for you or does not work for you), then applying consciousness and spirituality in the realm of food will be the secret ingredient to your success. If you eat food that you know in your bones to be inappropriate and/or eat at inappropriate times and/or eat inappropriate quantities; if you eat when you are asleep, bored, angry, stressed or sad; if you eat in response to social cues instead of internal cues; if you notice these patterns in your eating over and over, again and again; then you are being called to an awakened consciousness in the process of feeding yourself. This awakened consciousness includes yet transcends knowledge about nutrition, energy expenditure, bodily self-awareness and even emotional self-knowledge and mastery. This awakened consciousness extends into the experience of spiritual connection.
[The Holy Spirit] seems to be whatever meets the needs you think you have.
But He is not deceived
when you perceive your self entrapped in needs you do not have.
It is from these He would deliver you.
(A Course in Miracles, Clarification of Terms, "The Holy Spirit")
Food We Know Not Of
I have food to eat you know not of. (Jesus, to his disciple Philip)
As spirit we don't need food at all. We don't need to pack a lunch for the afterlife. But here we are on earth seemingly in bodies that need food or they sicken, wither, starve and die. To bodies, food is paramount and even worth fighting over. Food seems so important we are willing to kill other sentient beings and make them our food. We are more easily upset when hungry. Food seems so important we are willing to set love aside. Our bodily experience of hunger reinforces our belief that eating food is absolutely essential. Our belief and our bodily experience form a cycle of addiction in which humanity is currently stuck.
I live as a feather on the breath of God. (Saint Hildegard von Bingen)
In order to release us from the endless cycle of the illusion of death, the Holy Spirit manifests as food for us (among many other things). The immediate purpose is to lovingly give us what we think we need. But the ultimate goal, even where food is concerned, is our release from the belief that we need it. This drastic change in perception will rarely happen quickly because such a dramatic shift would be too unsettling to our paradigm—it would encourage fear instead of peace. So we are being offered many lessons to learn slowly in the realm of food.
All things are lessons God would have me learn. (ACIM Workbook Lesson 193)
One of these lessons is an abundance of food choices, some of which nurture and nourish us and some of which do not. Many foods today are like bling—flashy and attractive, but without real value. Strictly speaking, the belief that we need food is a symptom of our addiction to our erroneous perception of our identity. We are addicted to the idea that we are bodies and our practices—including our attention to and use of food—serve to keep us bound to body identification.
While most food is not inherently addictive on the level of, say, opiates, it is very possible to develop a food addiction. And there are some foods that are much more addictive than others. The highly addictive foods tend to be those that contain artificial ingredients and/or are not natural or whole—foods that are altered from their natural state or concocted in scientific laboratories.
It isn't surprising we're having so much trouble with food these days. The world of food reflects our upside-down world. We are not bodies and the Holy Spirit IS food. In Reality, as spirit in Oneness we do not need food. Food is a "need" we need to be delivered from.
I am sustained by the Love of God. Here is the answer to every problem that confronts you today and tomorrow and throughout time. In this world, you believe you are sustained by everything but God. Your faith is placed in the most trivial and insane symbols; pills, money, "protective" clothing, "influence," "prestige," being liked, knowing the "right" people, and an endless list of forms of nothingness which you endow with magical powers. [Including food.]
All these things are your replacements for the Love of God. All these things are cherished to ensure a body identification. They are songs of praise to the ego. Do not put your faith in the worthless. It will not sustain you. (ACIM Workbook Lesson 50)
The ego, an idea of our own making, "steps into" the unbearably painful cycle of sin, guilt and fear, saying (in effect): let me handle everything for you—I will make you feel better. The ego then projects guilt onto things outside of the seemingly separate self. We use the ego's perception and counsel to keep guilt outside of ourselves and the pain of guilt out of our consciousness. It is the ego that is threatened by the idea of forgiveness and healing. The ego's very existence depends upon sin, guilt and fear and the ego is not suicidal. The ego fights for survival and does not give up easily. But God created the Holy Spirit as the "Zen alarm clock" to gently awaken us to the ego's unreality and the truth of ever-present Oneness.
The Holy Spirit is giving us the opportunity to learn/remember about love, choice, self care, forgiveness and what truly feeds us through the drama that arises around our belief that we need food. Playing out on this stage are stories of addiction, starvation and overfeeding backdropped with misuse and malfunction—cruelty in the food industry, soil depletion, nutrient decline, genetically modified foodstuffs, over-processing, toxins, allergens and the pervasive taint of greed. Our intent is bent. We allow our food to be produced for the purpose of making money instead of producing food for the purpose of stoking the health of humanity and accepting fair compensation for this service.
Health is seen as the natural state of everything
when interpretation is left to the Holy Spirit,
Who perceives no attack on anything.
Health is the result of relinquishing all attempts to use the body lovelessly.
Health is the beginning of the proper perspective on life
under the guidance of the one Teacher Who knows what life is,
being the Voice for Life Itself.
(ACIM Text Chapter 8, VIII.9:8-10)
Stop That Spoon-Bending
How do we heal our warped relationship with food? As in all other matters of life on earth, we must use our free will to choose again WITH God. We can offer the process of feeding ourselves to the Holy Spirit for guidance.
The Holy Spirit understands the means you made,
by which you would attain what is forever unattainable.
And if you offer them to Him, He will employ the means you made for exile
to restore your mind to where it truly is at home.
(ACIM Workbook Part II, Section 7, "What is the Holy Spirit?")
In this case "the means you made" would be the earthly law that bodies must eat to live. What is "forever unattainable" is changing God's creation of eternal spirit in His image (us, His masterpiece, His children) into independent, self-made, self-defined, not-God rivals to His "All-That-Is-ness." Despite appearances on the earth plane, we cannot usurp God's position of omnipotence as Source of All That Is, Creator of Eternal Love and Only Love. Nor can we thwart His plan to correct our nightmarish contrary vision through the Holy Spirit.
The time has come to accomplish more than mere survival with food. Our relationship with food can feed us spiritually. Feeding ourselves amidst plenty offers numerous lessons in choice, self-awareness, addiction, priorities and forgiveness. No more is it sufficient to blindly eat whatever we can get our hands on while it's in front of us. THAT behavior makes us sick and miserable. No more is it sufficient to eat whatever the marketplace calls "food." THAT behavior makes us sick and miserable. For many of us, the procurement of food is no longer a 24-hour-a-day concern. So making food our first priority now makes us sick and miserable. And yet we are still obsessed with eating.
There is no lack of advice about how to eat these days, ranging from the ridiculous to the sublime.
Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants. (Michael Pollan)
That is so very close! But I would amend this good advice to read:
Connect with God. Connect with yourself. Forgive. Change your mind AND
eat food, not too much, mostly plants.
Spiritual Motivation and Spiritual Practice
The solution is simple but not necessarily easy. We make eating not only conscious but spiritual. We set high ideals for our practices, then do the best we can to follow them in a loving way, accepting our lessons as they present themselves. It is worth noting that if your current practice of eating involves extreme over- or under-eating, more focused and defined healing efforts, possibly in a controlled environment, may be needed before you find balance and ease via the following guidelines.
10 Practices to Allow Food to Serve You
1. Love all aspects of yourself right now, exactly as you are. How? Claim your divinity. As a child of The Loving God—as spirit—what's not to love? Accept that by the identity given to you, you are far greater than any tide or tug of this mortal world. You are certainly the master of the ice cream in your freezer.
2. Ask for help from Servants of the Light in the spiritual realms. Filter all plans for and around eating through the greater spiritual context. The body is a temple deserving of respect, not our identity nor a measure of our worth. The body is also a tool—a means, not an end.
The Holy Spirit teaches you to use your body only to reach your brothers,
so He can teach his message through you.
This will heal them and therefore heal you.
(ACIM Text Chapter 8, VIII.9:1-2)
3. Move, stretch and strengthen your body temple often. Honor the Holy Spirit's purpose for the body in this world. Body tools are not designed to be inactive.
4. Do your healing work on issues that come into awareness through your relationship to food. Always forgive yourself and others for errors around eating. Even though it is a consequence of our "fall from grace," eating is neutral, not good or bad. (For more about forgiveness and healing work see Healing Loss: Choose Love Now and the articles below.)
5. Eat mostly whole, natural foods consciously when you are hungry. But whatever you eat, eat it in love and gratitude.
6. Listen to your body and choose foods that nourish and energize you. Eat foods that contribute to your overall joy, health and well-being.
7. Eat these foods in amounts that satisfy without producing a lethargic stupor.
8. Limit foods that produce a strong addictive response, such as sugar and MSG.
9. Abstain from foods that don't work for you—artificial sweeteners and meat, for example.
10. Choose food that is produced in alignment with your moral sensibilities.
Call Out for Spiritual Delivery
Calling on the Holy Spirit is the missing element in most dietary strategies. Even though the body is not Real, as we have our experience on the earth plane a healthy body supports our spiritual work. On earth, proper nutrition is basic to a healthy, well-functioning body. Thus eating becomes as important to the spiritual journey as having shelter, getting adequate rest, being literate and being exposed to ideas—nutrition is among basic needs that, when satisfied, free us to put our attention on higher matters. The Holy Spirit will guide us in eating if we will ask and allow.
Prayer Before Eating
Father, be with me as I eat.
I recognize that my body is “a temple of the Holy Spirit” within me.
Show me the foods to eat to best support myself.
Help me to nurture my body temple with this meal in a non-addicted way.
Help me to maintain my body temple gently and lovingly,
in the absence of starving and over-eating.
Your Love is the feast, my Father.
Help me to be love, not consume love nor deny love.
Thank You for Your constant Peace and Guiding Presence in my life.
And so it is.
This prayer exercises free will to invite assistance from the higher realms. It engages the energy of opening instead of a restrictive steeling to fight cravings or "the battle of the bulge." Thus it avoids opposing some enemy and making our errors more real. This prayer supports our general spiritual goals as well as goals for the body without making weight loss or a particular bodily outcome a "false idol" that becomes an obstacle to the experience of Oneness with God.
Healing Body Image
I am not a body. I am free. For I am still as God created me.
(ACIM Workbook Review VI, Lessons 201-220)
"I am not a body. I am free." is a concept so central to A Course in Miracles it is the main focus of Workbook Lesson 199 and then repeated for 20 days in a review period. We are told this idea is essential to our progress and not to worry that to the ego it seems insane. We are advised to cherish this idea and practice it every day. It certainly puts our obsession with body image into perspective and lays the task of letting go of it squarely in our pudgy laps.
Are there parts of your body that you still judge? Choose to LOVE the body you have and get busy loving it. Love that Buddha belly, those birthing hips, those skinny legs, whatever your fruit shape, those special blond hairs and airy spaces, those chubby cheeks, those thunder thighs, those flat pancakes and all the beautiful bodily topography that decorates you! These characteristics are here in part to teach you to love unconditionally and learn to ask for the Holy Spirit's guidance over that of the ego.
The ego's voice is an hallucination. You cannot expect it to say, "I am not real." Hallucinations are inaccurate perceptions of reality. Yet you are not asked to dispel them alone. You are merely asked to evaluate them in terms of their results to you. If you do not want them on the basis of loss of peace, they will be removed from your mind for you. Every response to the ego is a call to war, and war does deprive you of peace. Yet in this war there is no opponent. [Separation is an illusion.] This is the reinterpretation of reality which you must make to secure peace, and the only one you need ever make.
(ACIM Text Chapter 8, I:2-3)
Still cringing at the thought of loving what you've judged? Notice what you love easily—babies, children, grandmas, puppies, kitties, etc. You are noticing the "lover" in yourself. Call up the feeling inspired by your beloved. In other words, imagine how it feels to love that thing and feel the love now. Use that "lover" energy to love your body in the same way. Just do it. Look in the mirror and love yourself. We CAN choose to see ourselves with eyes of unconditional love, the love that overlooks imperfection in favor of the greater good of simply loving.
I can be hurt by nothing but my thoughts. . . .
I will not hurt myself today. For I am far beyond all pain.
My Father placed me safe in Heaven, watching over me.
And I would not attack the Son He loves,
for what He loves is also mine to love.
(ACIM Workbook Lesson 281)
Establish a "no tolerance policy" for negative self-talk. Whenever you notice negative self-talk, correct it to reflect positivity.
For example, the negative thought "I'm fat," becomes something like:
"I am engaging the Love of God, the power of my mind and my free will
to manifest health and a practical body weight now."
The negative idea "I'm surrounded by temptation." becomes something like:
"I am blessed with an abundance of choices
from which I am learning my true nature."
Let go of absolutes. We don't have an "ideal body weight," we have an ideal range of body weight that is practical for the effective use of our body temple/tool here on earth. Foods are not "good" or "bad" and we are not "good" or "bad" to eat them. Foods have positive and negative effects in bodies in general, and in our bodies in particular. My ideal foods and eating patterns may not be yours, and for reasons far greater than the simple mechanics of body fuel. My ideals around eating today will probably not be identical to my ideals next year. There is room for love and change AND differences.
We are learning how to feed ourselves, generally and as individuals, amidst abundance and choices. We are learning how our choices manifest in the physical. We are learning how the physical mirrors deeper truths about ourselves. We're in school. Ask questions.
• Why am I eating whatever I have in my mouth right now?
• Where is food and eating in my personal hierarchy of importance? Why?
• What does eating "junk food" symbolize in my spiritual life?
• What is reflected when I eat just enough to get by physically and deny myself the pleasures of food?
• What am I expressing by purging my meals?
• What am I trying to bury under loads of ingested food?
• What am I trying to wash away in a steady stream of food as I continually graze all day long?
• What do I affirm when I lovingly prepare healthy food for myself and others?
• What do I teach when I listen to my body instead of allowing social convention dictate when I eat?
When we explore our eating behavior from a place of openness we become privy to important aspects of self, our journey and our healing.
Tips on the Table
Let go of the idea of "dieting" in favor of building a satisfying lifestyle that includes delicious, nutritious, healthful food. Substitute better foods for the not-so-good ones currently on your menu. Take baby steps. Identify one improvement for your diet that you feel you can probably live with. Make that change. Try it on, see how it fits. Tweak it if you have to. Find substitutions that taste and feel good. "Doable" changes, even small ones, integrated into our lives create the dramatic changes we envision for ourselves. Don't overwhelm yourself (and set yourself up to fail) by simply taking things away or changing too many things at once.
Formulate goals without attachment. It's not only okay, but useful to have goals. But there is no need to terrorize yourself with your goals. Let ideals serve you, not enslave you.
Stay present. Listen to your body. If that sounds foreign or difficult, here's a question to ask: am I so focused on the "life" swirling around in my head or engaged in the life swirling around me that I am not present to experience the food I eat and the sensations of nourishment, satiation and fullness (or not) that result? Not listening to the body is a symptom of addiction—to the food (eating regardless of fullness) or to the world (tuning out bodily sensations in favor of thinking or doing) or both.
Eat to Live
In order to carry out our true, soul-level, spiritual purpose for being on earth right now each of us is given a body temple with the potential for a certain level of health. Overfeeding, underfeeding and habitually choosing food lacking in nutritional value and/or carrying negative energies damages the body temple/tool. This tool damage interferes with the optimum manifestation of our soul's purpose. There is no reason to be upset with our mistakes because the Holy Spirit constantly applies navigational correction from the highest perspective. There is no need to become dogmatic or judgmental about dietary practice. We do not need to turn eating into a corseted ritual so stiff with the bones of rules we can hardly get a breath, much less food, through our impossibly tiny waists. But our goal is always to work with the will of God in all things. With love, intention, choice, practice, forgiveness and spiritual help, we can indeed master dietary dilemmas, even when unhealthy eating has been a long-standing pattern. We CAN learn to eat to live.
Like Buddha, humanity is called to walk the middle path of open-hearted consciousness and choice. Eating food has long been a spiritual arena where the practice of devotion to God through diet was measured in mastery or failure. But the middle path is about process, not measurement—about choice, not victimhood—about acceptance and forgiveness, not judgment. May our every bite become a prayer of sustenance.
With Peace and Love,
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Healing Loss Review http://miracarroll.wordpress.com/2012/05/16/healing-loss-choose-love-now-book-review-3/
Healing Loss: Choose Love Now by Miradrienne Carroll
outlines spiritual principles and practices
for anyone who wants to heal, at any time,
from the context of healing grief and loss.
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