Tonight there is a “blue moon.” Two full moons in one month.
I started to think about ”blue moons.”
Earlier this summer I went to Omega Institute and took a course to train to teach Mindfulness Based Eating Awareness Training (MB-EAT).
I did this for several reasons; the most important one for myself. I had reached a place of disconnection and alienation from my body. I was overweight and out of shape. On retreat in May, I tried to do yoga and it was painful and I felt heavy and old. Aging has been taking a bit of toll especially since it is piled onto multiple orthopedic injuries and surgeries. For many years, I have tried to lose weight and be fit but I always slip back into a place that is neither comfortable nor easy. Meditation and mindfulness have helped my spirit and heart but my body felt left out, waiting at the station watching the happiness train pull out. I decided it was time to try something new while learning skills I could pass on to my mindfulness students.
For five days from 7 AM until 9 PM, including many meals, I learned about hunger signals, fullness signals, leaving food on my plate, making choices at a buffet, savoring food, enjoying food, etc. This was made all the more challenging by the fact Omega serves some of the best food I have ever eaten three times a day buffet style. This was a 5 day mindful eating exercise. I reconnected with my yoga practice and each day felt my body waking up slowly. I had the time to honor my limitations and appreciate what was possible moment by moment.
Many of my classmates had similar histories and had come to learn what they could to go back to places like France, Denmark and Australia to teach their mindfulness students.
This program, MB-EAT, teaches participants over a couple of months to remember what it is like to be hungry, feel full and really enjoy food. Food is not an enemy. I remembered when I didn’t obsess over calories, fat grams and carbohydrates. I experienced the joy of eating because I was hungry and my body felt better after I ate. I loved being able to eat something without guilt and recrimination. I could see an end to days I was “good” or “bad” depending on what I ate. I have had the healthy choice eating thing pretty well down but now I could eat something like ice cream with pure joy. One afternoon I bought ice cream at the Omega cafe, awesome delicious ice cream, and I sat in their lovely garden and enjoyed it with an innocence I had lost long ago. Earlier that week I had shared ice cream with my grandchildren and thought I wanted to eat it like they did; it was just plain yummy.
Since then, it has not all been easy. It took almost 2 months before I could really feel hunger and fullness. I had literally lost the ability to really experience these things over the years. I have been exercising regularly and I feel so much better. I monitor all the negative self-talk and see it for what it is. I imagine it as the witch in the Wizard of Oz melting away. I have gone out to dinner a couple of times and really savored and enjoyed the meal without all the negative thinking that often followed. I have lost weight.
Once in a blue moon, I find a new and true path that brings ease to my day. Approaching eating and food in this mindful way has been such a path. It has been harder to let go of chastising myself over the fact as a mindfulness teacher of 20 years I should have been able to do this long ago. But then I am reminded that it is all about this moment.
Our deepest self-knowledge resides in the body, which a great deal of the time does not speak the same language as the mind.
Annemarie Colbin “Food and Healing”