Thursday, May 5, 2011

Spiralling In

I'm not full of wit today (sorry if you tuned in for the turns of phrase...)

It was neither a particularly great nor a particularly awful day. I had moments of craving, of feeling off, and I had moments of energy and "rightness". You know, when things just seem to work. I was home most of the day, not even sure what the weather was doing out there--which is saying a lot, because living on a boat you always sort of "know" what's going on outside, because you are barely separated from it. The dandelion wine needed additions, we bottled the dandelion "homebrew" (a sort of beer, though we use no grain, just dandelions/ginger/sweeteener), and set up the nettle beer (similar, but also has lemon juice and rind). I ran a few errands while Blondina was at ballet, but otherwise it was a simple day.

Simple physically. Not mentally. No major demons to wrestle, I was just ruminating upon the process again. Why am I feeling sort of "itchy" (mentally) and aggravated? Why does nothing seem to satisfy today? I am thinking that it has something to do with this apparent "fourth week die-off" that several of the group doing Intro have noted. Or maybe it's totally an emotional event, a sort of entitlement that comes from having "put up with deprivation". As in, I have lived this long without sweets, treats, cheese, you name it....and now I think I deserve some reward. Something to break the monotony.

Only, I love my food. I don't feel deprived (yeah, I miss cheese, but it's been three years without it, not three weeks). I have variety, richness, comfort. So what drove me to mix hazelnut butter, ghee, cinnamon and honey? And eat way more than a tiny bit? There's a little kid in me that's begging for a reward and I need to find her and have a stern talk!

I felt off after indulging. And guilty, again. This time I decided to fight back: I fixed an equally luscious snack of an avocado half filled with fermented salmon and the onions and lemon from the brine. Which actually erased the weird feelings.

Why didn't I think of the second snack earlier? My mind was pushing toward these new and "edgy" foods, doggedly avoiding any other solution to the gnawing (not hunger, just a weird emptiness). Maybe I was bored and looking for entertainment, or maybe I really did need a high fat snack. Whatever it was, I have to learn to practice a bit of patience and do some reflecting before I go grab something. I need to make an effort to discern what I really need, not just what I want.

The other day I wrote about my concept of the "health onion", that peeling back of layers as you dig deeper, discarding superficial symptoms and homing in on the meatier issues. I have another way of looking at the whole idea of healing, one that Susun Weed lays out eloquently for us in Healing Wise. At the beginning of the book, she describes what she sees as the three major traditions of healing (Scientific--"trust my machine", Heroic--"trust me", and Wise Woman--"trust yourself"). The Wise Woman path is not straight, rather it spirals:

The symbol of the Wise Woman tradition is a spiral.
A spiral is a cycle as It moves through time.
A spiral is movement around and beyond a circle, always returning to itself,
But never at exactly the same place. Spirals never repeat themselves.
The symbol of the Wise Woman tradition is the spiral.
The spiral is the bubbling cauldron.
The spiral is the curl of the wave.
The spiral is the lift of the wind.
The spiral is the whirlpool of water.
The spiral is the umbilical cord.
The spiral is the great serpent.
The spiral is the path of the earth.
The spiral is the twist of the helix.
The spiral is the spin of our galaxy. The spiral is the soft guts.
The spiral is the labyrinth.
The spiral is the womb-moon-tide mobius pull.
The spiral is your individual life.
The spiral is the passage between worlds: birth passing into death passing into birth.
The path of enlightenment is the spiral dance of bliss.
The symbol of the Wise Woman Tradition is a spiral.
Twelve is the number of established order.
One step beyond is thirteen, the wild card, the indivisible prime, the number of change.
Walk a spiral, you will inevitably come to the unique next step, the unknown, the thirteenth step, the opportunity for change, the window of transformation.
The thirteenth step creates the spiral.

 Taken from the Weed Wanderings Archive, which has excerpts from the book

One of the reasons I love Dr. Natasha is that she is a Wise Woman, despite her training in the scientific and heroic traditions. She believes that we can heal ourselves and our families. That we can use food to heal. That we can trust the messy and mysterious process. "Walk a spiral, you will inevitably come to the unique next step, the unknown, the thirteenth step, the opportunity for change, the window of transformation." YES! When we face the unknown, work with it, hang in there, we have an enormous opportunity for change.

Did you notice the idea that a spiral returns to itself but is never the same? It is the same with waves, constantly moving in a similar pattern, but never exactly the same. As it is with snowflakes. With the movement of the seasons, with...everything. We spiral through our lives, touching similar moments to ones in the past, but never repeating exactly . As soon as we have something figured out, the ground shifts a bit, circumstances change. And then what we "know" is not there either. It has changed too, and the moment is now an opportunity to keep paying attention. Which, in reality, are all moments.

I can't promise that by paying attention, creating awareness, we will vanquish all cravings--and every other human ill. Instead, I suggest that being in a state of awareness is the only way to avoid what I did today. Which was to numbly go along with the Next Bright idea. I wasn't focused or clear, I was on automatic. Awareness is the opposite of being On Automatic. It is fully being present on the path. And as I do see that path as spiral, so I know the opportunity will arise for me to revisit how I deal with yucky feelings, cravings, and so on.

That's a good thing. I get to do it again! And this time, with awareness. If not, if I forget, guess what? I get to do it again. With awareness. Or not. My choice. But I do know how it will turn out whichever choice I make. I can give up the guilt and realize that I choose which fork of the path to follow, and I can own the results.

My treat tasted really good. I enjoyed it. I think my odd feelings were produced by the debate going on in my head, not by a reaction in my gut. And it caused me to think hard about being either deliberate or reflexive in my actions, so that's a positive outcome as well.

Funny enough, my dad's been telling me this for years: "Pay Attention!" It's been drilled into me (one of the joys of being the daughter of a shrink) so I guess I fight it. If I wasn't careful in the kitchen, it was due to not paying attention. If I bumped into something.... You get the idea. Another way he phrases it is to "respond" thoughtfully, instead of "reacting" in a situation. Same idea: pay attention! (and act accordingly).

Someone please tell me though, how do I get the The Shrink's voice out of my head? It's high time I replaced it with my own!


How do you stay aware? Does that help you to be more successful in taking care of yourself?


Linda K said...

Being aware…hmmm. I am 40 years old and am just beginning to understand what that really means!! Ayurveda has taught me awareness is and it is so hard, for me. When you have gone all your life on auto-pilot, paying attention is hard to do. My husband laughs at me when we pass a landmark that we have probably passed 100 times and I notice it for the first time. Right now I am working on being more aware when I eat. It is hard for me to eat without doing something else like reading, watching TV or fulfilling someone else's needs at the table. Awareness is a new concept to me...learning more & more about it through Yoga and Ayurveda. I tell my kids all the time to Pay Attention(!!)while it is me that needs to work on it most. I love your excerpt on the spiral!! I just finished a 2-week cleanse and I experienced so much transformation about my body image, my eating habits, my cravings. I think whenever we deprive ourselves of food for whatever reason (healing, growth) it makes us delve deeper in order to get to that 13th step! I am honored to still be able to learn from you :) Your blog is amazingly valuable! Thank you!!!

Justine Raphael said...

Thank you so much Linda! What a thoughtful (and very sweet) comment. Yes, I do the same--read, talk write, whatever, when I eat. Anything except just sit and eat in awareness. What a lovely practice! To just eat. To just be. So hard, and yet a wonderful teacher...

Thanks for hanging in there with me! I appreciate your voice, your input, so much.


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