I've been listening to Stephen Cope's "Yoga for Emotional Flow" today, and my mind, she is blown. To be honest, I've been listening to, reading and meditating on a number of things for some time which have related to this, but this just drew it all together and suddenly things seem...well, clear.
The nutshell of what really struck me is the radical notion of actually feeling your feelings. Whatever they are, however they feel, just be with them. Don't try to change them, or make them go away. Just let them be and be with them. And particularly of interest is the fact that he says that this is the point of yoga - to bring you to feeling what you're feeling as you do it. Not losing weight, not being physically stretchier, none of the things that most people seem to put into yoga. It's to help you feel what you feel.
This is incredibly difficult for me. I don't do anger, for example - I repress, I intellectualise, I push it far away and try to smooth it out because part of me is convinced that my anger could destroy the world. I don't feel my feelings about eating either - I dive into the food, always with some distraction to prevent me from feeling it or thinking about it.
There's a whole bunch of psychological stuff I could go on about, which I'm not going to get into, but I have had a frustrating, boring and stressful day, and at the end of the day, I just wanted to eat. I left work thinking "I want to go buy Mars Bars and chicken nuggets and just STUFF MY FUCKING FACE".
But since I was listening to this CD, I thought, "well, till I get to the shops, I'll just feel this desire. I won't fight it, I won't try to repress it. I won't ignore it. I'll just feel it.
I will feel all the wanting for that volume of food that will choke down all my frustration and fury over being so frustrated.
I'll just be here.
I want to eat. I'm wanting to eat."
It was overwhelming. I walked down the street choking on sobs, really allowing myself to feel that wanting, that desperation and that feeling of eternal judgement on myself for having that wanting.
And then it left me.
Don't get me wrong, I'm still sobbing like a baby - everything is making me cry - so there's clearly a lot of emotion that wants to be felt right now.
But that feeling, that desperate, repressed, frantic feeling that I had to eat right then, I had to binge, all the self-loathing I felt for having that feeling, it all went away. I mean, within a few minutes, it just...went.
And this is what is clear, all of a sudden, which I have understood in part before: maybe the largest part of my problems with eating have to do with not feeling what I'm feeling. It's not really about a war with my mother on the battleground of my body. It's certainly not about feeling bad about myself because I wasn't physically sufficient when I was younger. It's all a massive created problem around avoiding feeling undesirable feelings.
I grew up in a religious household where certain types of emotion weren't really considered appropriate. Things happened in my early childhood as a result of my own anger which completely shattered my world. And for all of my life, I have wanted to just sustain some kind of "okay" feeling. Any time something goes wrong, I'm just so desperate to get back to "okay" because I don't know how to sit down and be with what I'm feeling. I try to distract myself like waving a toy in front of a crying baby.
So this is a whole new and, today, painful experience, and a liberating one. I really felt my desperate wanting for food, I was overwhelmed by it, and it was okay. It was okay, and because I didn't try to push it away, it left by itself. I am, right now, genuinely hungry, but all that desperation and panic and hateful fear are gone. Because I said, okay, since you're here, let's just be here.
Suddenly...a lot of things make more sense.