A Reminder to Make Appointments with Yourself

A Reminder to Make Appointments with Yourself
A Reminder to Make Appointments with Yourself

The world’s great teachings over thousands of years agree that we have all we need already, inside. If that’s true, how do we wind up in such painful tangles? It’s because we’ve lost touch with ourselves.

This is a very short and sweet reminder to do what you must do in order to come home. There is an absolute abundance of studies illustrating the benefits of meditation – it’s the most accessible, and perhaps most effective, way to quickly make an appointment with your true self. To drop ALL the outside opinions, expectations, harsh realities, AND your own internal pressure, in order to get reacquainted with just BEING you in your body. When you give yourself a chance to do that, and breathe… the truths you need to pay attention to surface. And you have the calmness required to look at them. Give yourself this essential food… The food of time for yourself.

An Important Time to Support BEDA!

An Important Time to Support BEDA!
An Important Time to Support BEDA!

There is still time to make a donation on this day, “Give to the Max Day,” a 24-hour window during which non-profits compete to earn monetary awards to support their work. Those who receive the highest number of donations, as well as those that receive the highest amount of money receive additional funds for their organizations.

I’m writing to ask you to consider donating to BEDA, the Binge Eating Disorder Association, because they do work that is particularly vital as Binge Eating Disorder is only at the very, very beginning of being recognized as a separate, diagnosable eating disorder. This is a time when many people, including those who suffer with the disorder, their families, their treatment teams, and the general public are going to need education and resources.

If you don’t have time today to donate through the Give 2 the Max program, please consider donating through the BEDA website (http://bedaonline.com/) at a later time.

Thanks so much in advance for supporting an organization that is helping to support all of us who’ve suffered with our relationship to food in this particular way.

If We Were All Supermodels

If We Were All Supermodels
If We Were All Supermodels

Sometimes it’s easy to get caught up in the fantasy of being someone who “everyone” loves, who “everyone” approves of, who “everyone” finds sexy. On an intellectual level we know this is impossible, but on the emotional and psychological levels, the part of us that needs love is susceptible to this type of fantasy.

Once in a while it can be amusing and/or enlightening to blend some sort of thin fantasy with realistic human values. For example, let’s say we abide by a principle of fairness, and grant that everyone deserves to be considered super-sexy. We’ll use the images that our sick culture feeds us to define sexyness for the moment, since so many of us get caught in a war trying to match these images. So, we imagine every single woman very thin, perfect hair, etc.; every man tall, ripped, etc.

When I first imagined this, I had the thought, hehheh, everyone would just go nuts in the streets. Everyone would be attracted to each other constantly. Thinking past that aspect, I imagined everyone being included at every party, everyone being given what they wanted, everyone taking tons of pictures of themselves.

These are just my own reactions based on silliness combined with certain beliefs I always linked with being thin or “hot.” You might find it useful to explore your own ideas about how it would play out. If you’ve never done a “thin fantasy” before, the point is to discover what you may subconsciously believe is attached to having a thin body.

But in this case, imagining what would happen if we were all supermodels, I find that after the initial upheaval, we’d all be left with the same situation of being human beings sharing a world with each other. What would happen when someone really got pissed off? How many times could that happen with someone having the, “Aw, but she’s so cute though, I’ll forget it,” response, before they snap?? What would happen when someone got killed in a car crash? The supermodel family members would have utterly broken hearts. What about pollution and the economy? Supermodel government officials and many supermodel citizens would still be struggling to implement solutions.

When you put the focus on your body aside – ideally through healing your relationship with it, and also through thought experiments such as this – you realize that much more important than what you look like, is the fact that you are a human soul who found herself alive in this world. And every day, no matter what’s up with your body, you’re still left with the task of living. Exploring yourself, learning how to relate to others, navigating feelings, and yes, buying clothes and eating. Dealing with the fact of poverty in the world. Dealing with family issues. Dancing and working and trudging through psychological issues and hanging out and zoning out and all of it!

So… If you find yourself getting too caught up in the endless “what-ifs” of being soooooo hot… or “just thin,” or even “just my natural weight!!!!!!”… Remember, you’re kinda distracting yourself from all your life that needs to be lived.

Judy

How You Relate to Your To-Do List

How You Relate to Your To-Do List
How You Relate to Your To-Do List

Perfectionism often goes hand in hand with eating & body issues. And perfectionism often goes hand in hand with never-ending To-Do lists. I certainly have one attempting to tyrannize my mind all throughout the day.

We can’t ignore that it can feel really good to check things off the list. It gives us a sense of confidence, accomplishment, a feeling of clearing away obstacles and making room to breathe. As with so many things, however, the problem arises when we become obsessed.

If you find yourself becoming obsessed with your To-Do list, and/or structuring your entire day around your To-Do list, I recommend the following:

Splurge all the tasks you can think of into a To-Do List From Hell. Set aside at least a good 15 minutes for this – and get it ALL out. I’m talking lengthy Word document, covering all areas – Work, Play, Relationships, Body, Household, Creativity, Family, Organizing… anything and everything that comes to mind. You’ll get exhausted before you could ever list everything, but, keep going until you feel like you got almost as much as you can think of for now out into the list.

Now, look over the list. Read it in its entirety. Notice the length of it. Start to imagine the number of minutes and hours some of the items on the list would take. If you’re really ambitious (or bored) actually add up the amounts of time everything would take altogether.

I’m sure you get the idea here – you’ll see that we would all need numerous lifetimes in order to do alllllllllllll the things we wish to do. And if we got that extra time, we’d think of even more things to do, of course, on into infinity. Concretely realizing this after making your own list, understand that this only grants more meaning to the actions we do choose to take, it doesn’t make them futile.

Your heart knows which “things to-do” are most important. Honor your limited time in this life by being fully present with the actions you do choose to take. Do one thing at a time. Know that your mountain of other things-to-do is recorded, not in danger of being forgotten, and then let it go as you do the one thing that it’s time to do.

Good luck!
Judy

Where You ACTUALLY are Right NOW

Where You ACTUALLY are Right NOW
Where You ACTUALLY are Right NOW

Where are you right now?

Just like when a kindergartener continues to ask, “Why?”, it doesn’t take us long to come upon something we can’t really explain. Where are you right now? At my desk. Where? In my apartment. Where? In New York. Where? … The U.S., Earth, the Milky Way, the universe, the multiverse, …??

Why am I bringing up metaphysics? Because I want to point out that for the purposes of our day-to-day operations, we accept certain parameters as true and as “enough to define the world by.” This gives us a sense of security and direction, and keeps us from feeling overwhelmed too often. We wouldn’t have gotten where we are today if on most days we stopped in the middle of the street, realized we were lost because we “didn’t know where we really were,” and couldn’t step forward to make it to our destination. So, it’s good that we have “blinders” on most of the time, in order to keep us feeling competent and focused.

However, this useful ability becomes perilous for our psyches when we start refusing to let it go, and start believing that our limited definitions are all that matters. We forget that concepts are just our cognitive attempts to define the mystery we live in; we think we know everything.

I used the example of defining geographical space, but we also define our own selves for convenience. We use many self-definitions in order to situate ourselves in relation to others and the world around us. Again, a lot of this can be useful. “I am ’12 years old,’ it would be good for me not to try to drive the car.” “I am ‘unemployed,’ it would be good for me not to spend too much money right now,” etc.

Many people from all different areas of academia and sprituality refer to our self-conceptions, altogether, as our “ego.” Not in the sense of, “ugh, can you believe his ego??”, which refers to what many would identify as selfishness or arrogance. But rather, ego as the apparatus by which we take on definitions of ourselves in order to give ourselves direction. Ego is necessary and useful – but what is also absolutely necessary is frequent acknowledgement of the fact that we are much, much more than our egos. Just like the earth beneath the pavement is much more than 5th Avenue on the way to 6th Avenue – it’s substance in a mysterious world.

Just as I’m not advocating that you get lost in the street thinking about how you “don’t really know where you are,” I’m not recommending that you drop your all of your roles, as “student,” “athlete,” “employee,” “friend,” etc., in order to permanently lose your ego and “become one with everything,” Buddha or bust. But I AM saying that for those of us who experience serious suffering around body image, a sense of “stuckness” in life, or even self-hate, there’s no doubt that we’ve become a slave to concepts in our mind. Concepts of how things should be, how the body should be, how a person should act at this or that age – all concepts about how things should be as opposed to how they ARE now.

We get paralyzed by this if it’s bad enough. It drives us to use escapist coping mechanisms, such as binge eating, binge shopping, alcohol, TV, etc. A desperately sought “zone-out” time, to get a break from the ego pronouncing its judgments – leaving us crushed, angry, depressed. You may not even notice it’s going on, since it has, over years, become background music in your mind. But indeed, all too often you are listening to: “What are you DOING?” “Ha..ha.. I can’t believe you’re trying that.” “Pathetic.” “Why bother?” “It’s too late for that.” “Just don’t go.” “You’re disgusting!!!” Then, all of a sudden, you wake up from your latest binge. You’re sentenced by the judgment of yourself as a failure compared to concepts of success, beauty, everything you “should” be, the punishment is shame, and the relief is bingeing – which, as we know, tragically causes more shame.

The antidote to this is to settle [get yourself relaxed] and feel into where you actually are right now. That’s how to achieve the best honesty about yourself and your situation. An example: Let’s say you hate your job. A CONCEPTUAL way of dealing with that is to use the concept, “Well, a lot of people hate their jobs -> so this is acceptable.” Whereas an ATTUNED-TO-REALITY way of dealing with it is to feel into the truth of it for you: “I feel a heaviness in my chest every day, I feel over-exhausted when I get home every day, I feel like this job is killing me.” That might lead to a different conclusion -> this is no longer acceptable. The conclusion isn’t the point, it’s the different method of knowing what’s going on.

You cannot go wrong if you come to know yourself through actually feeling out where you are at the moment. You may wind up going down roads you did not envision, but they will still be authentic. It is so much harder to have regrets when you live this way, because it is impossible to realize you have been living by someone else’s standards, as so many people report realizing, especially towards the end of life.

You can touch base with where you are at any time by breathing deeply for a few moments or minutes, enough to relax and sense how you are physically feeling. You can do a deeper check-in on a daily basis with meditation for 20-30 minutes, perhaps in the morning to orient and ground yourself. And you can see where you actually are before any decision you make, taking note of what the ego suggests, and then patting the ego on the head and telling it, “Aw… I’m glad you have your ideas about what this ‘should’ look like. Got it, now go away =) ” And then, feeling for yourself – would this make me truly happier? Is this out of love or fear, right now? Would this bring me more peace? Would this be fun?
Would this enliven me?

The place in the universe that you can most intimately know, and therefore love, will always be yourself – your body, your experience. Be with it, don’t surrender it to other people’s ideas for anything.

Judy

Children Full of Life

Children Full of Life
Children Full of Life

The following links direct you to a 40-minute-or-so documentary called “Children Full of Life.”
This video is a beautiful illustration of how human beings can be close to themselves and one another, allowing for the full range of emotions and differences. Acknowledging, sharing, and releasing suffering, rather than burying it and running from it. And ending up together in love.

Part 1 (9:45) http://youtu.be/armP8TfS9Is
Part 2 (8:02) http://youtu.be/Oc7S8HAfDzk
Part 3 (9:46) http://youtu.be/jd7YWx7idfE
Part 4 (6:39) http://youtu.be/OEW65OKRiAk
Part 5 (5:54) http://youtu.be/5FGdXEBcdh4

May we all be children full of life.

You Don’t Get to Say How it Will Feel

You Don’t Get to Say How it Will Feel
You Don’t Get to Say How it Will Feel

If you’ve got eating issues, any other sort of addiction, or any long-standing bad habits, it’s almost certainly true that you do a lot of automatic predicting about feelings.

Whether you’re aware of it or not at the time, every choice you make about whether to stay in the moment or distract yourself is a choice that indicates your current level of confidence in your ability to handle feelings.

I remember hearing someone explain how you can consider each purchase you make as a vote – if you buy an apple, it’s like saying “1 Yay for more apple production!” At that moment apples are supported and pears are not.
There’s also a quote from somebody, probably Buddha or somethin’, “You’re always practicing something – you’re either practicing suffering or practicing peacefulness,” or something to that effect.

So with these two notions combined, my point is, every time you go down the path of that bad habit, it’s like casting a vote for that bad habit to continue.

This is NOT to add fuel to the fire of blaming yourself for “how pathetic you are” for continuing to engage in the habit. This is rather to clarify what’s at stake, AND more importantly to say that it’s not worth the escape – because you DON’T KNOW what’s on the other side.

When you reach for a 3rd serving of food or a cigarette or to hurt or distract yourself in some other way, it’s because some powerful part of you has decided that doing that is preferable to having A CERTAIN FEELING in the next few moments instead.

And I just want you to be aware that that’s the choice you’re making, so that you can make a conscious decision about whether you want to keep making that choice. Do you really want to be constantly betting against yourself, that you vote you can’t handle the passing sensations of boredom or sadness, anger, frustration, tiredness? Do you want that underlying current of self-doubt to own your life, to determine your level of self-respect, authenticity, and sense of aliveness?

You can take the leap into potentially yucky feelings, and see if you survive, and go somewhere brand new (!!!) Or you can reinforce for yourself, that you must engage in your escapist coping mechanism right now because the alternative is too unbearable.

Lemme put it this way: Right now, you don’t get to say how it will feel to stay in the moment and feel your feelings instead of run. Why? Because as someone who’s still suffering greatly from a longstanding eating issue or other painful habit, unfortunately you have not yet had enough experience feeling instead of running. Otherwise you wouldn’t be in this position! By definition you’re someone who doesn’t have enough direct experience with allowing difficult feelings.

So – here’s a vote of confidence from me, that you can handle not jumping on board the train of your next compulsion/distraction. Watch it barrel towards you then pass you by. IT IS SO POSSIBLE.

Get your freedom back moment by moment. You are so much more than this suffering.
Judy

Why Your Personal Work is So Important

Why Your Personal Work is So Important
Why Your Personal Work is So Important

It’s really easy to get absolutely fed up with “working on your personal issues.”
Some days it’s all you can think about, and you get inspired and you sign up for something, or make a plan, or journal and feel like you’ve reached a very important insight.
But many, many other days, you’re just sick of the same old shit happening… over, and over.
Sometimes, you get disgusted with yourself, not believing how “selfish” or “pathetic” you are for constantly thinking about your own flaws and problems.

But, here’s the thing. There’s a reason your mind keeps bringing you back to your own suffering again and again. It’s because deep down, you’ve always had a sense of what you’re like when you are truly being yourself, and a sense of you-when-you-are-happy. And you’re secretly in love with that, we all are.
It’s actually a great thing: Your best self won’t let you off the hook, won’t let you live a half- or quarter-life when you already know how life could be.

It would be so much worse if people paid less attention to their personal suffering. That means they would go about their days feeling defeated and shitty – and how do people act when they feel that way inside? They may become withdrawn and isolated, they may externalize their pain by “letting it out” on someone else, they may actively or passively cause damage to their surroundings because they just don’t have it in them to give a damn at the moment.

Your personal work is so important because: If everyone truly allowed themselves to focus on and work to heal their own suffering, the resultant peaceful minds and hearts are what we would all be interacting with when we go out into the world.

There’s no heart in this world that doesn’t want relief from suffering, peace. Consider even a drastic example: a suicide bomber wants to eliminate what he believes is displeasing to his God; he believes his God knows what is good. He wants to please his good God because it gives him peace; there’s nothing like believing that God is good and that God loves you, and that therefore all is well and at peace. We all live a version of this when we are tiny children. There’s nothing like knowing that mom and dad are smiling, proud of you, everything safe and happy for the moment: peace.

The thing with the suicide bomber is that something has gone terribly awry when one adopts the delusion that violence can lead to true and lasting peace. It’s the same crisis that unfolds when you believe war can lead to no war, that shame can lead to positive change, that deprivation can lead to a feeling of enough-ness and abundance. These are all terrible substitutes for the mechanisms of change that really work: patience, learning, understanding, lack of instant gratification, tolerance, sustained effort, genuine interest, respect, humor. It all amounts to a lack of loving attention. Out of that lack comes a desperate and forceful attempt at change. We know from both our personal and global experience that those types of attempts do not work.

When you do the hard work and you do find some peace, you cease to have a desire to harm yourself, others, or the surrounding world around you in general. You are naturally gentle, loving, energetic, giving, happy.

So if you find yourself completely sick of working on your eating behaviors, your negative self-talk, your resistance to living a life you love, then firstly, notice that you are actually suffering in this very moment. Then, remember that every bit of healing you create for yourself, takes away a bit of the conflict in the world.

There’s no better work for you to do. Your inner state affects EVERYTHING you do, every interaction you have with any other beings. Work with the suffering you have right now. That is your most important work. You can’t skip over it, you can’t put it on the back burner and expect it to go away because you’re doing other “good and important” things. If you’re not paying attention to your own suffering, then you’re off doing those other good and important things with less energy, happiness, authenticity, and effectiveness than you could be, by far. Your creativity is WAY held back. Others don’t feel how much you love them as much as they could, no matter what words you say or even what acts you do. It’s the feel of you.

It’s about how you REALLY feel, NOW. That is what needs attention. Know it will be excruciatingly frustrating at times, but keep going. Remember what the world could be like if everyone did this. We have no idea what difference one person who’s truly on fire can make in this world – cliche or not, you know it’s true. Trust that you are enough, you are important enough to spend your full attention and compassion on. Touch the depths of yourself. Go all the way. You are the only one you can do this with, I don’t care if you’re a therapist, lover, spiritual teacher, mother – you can’t touch anyone with the same intimacy that you can touch your own self with. But the closer you get with yourself, certainly, the more you can offer that depth to others.

You are so important. Pay attention, do the work, do it now! =)

Judy

CHEESEBURGER

CHEESEBURGER
CHEESEBURGER

I just had a cheeseburger, fries, and mozzarella sticks.
I was having menstrual cramps FROM HELL.
I said to my sister: “It’s time to get cheeseburgers, to numb my midsection to the point that I don’t feel the cramps anymore.”

But later, I thought…
What if I have a daughter one day… And she’s having really bad cramps?
She’s 14 or so, and she’s pouting, and suffering.
Would I tell her to go numb out her stomach with cheeseburger?

…No… that’s not what I want to do.
I want to say, “My poor sweetie, I know, I know.” I’d make her a cup of hot tea. I’d get her a heating pad to curl up with. I’d have her lay her head on my lap and I’d stroke her hair. I’d get her some aspirin if she wanted.

I certainly wouldn’t want to exponentially increase her pain level by adding layers of emotional pain, acknowledged in the moment or not, resulting from overeating.

I have compassion for myself, for why I ate all that stuff.
At the same time, I seek to care for myself as a beloved child.
We all deserve that kind of love. I wonder how I would feel right now if I had done that earlier, instead of eaten the cheeseburger. Right now I’m feeling pretty bloated…

The more you allow and touch your own pain, the more you can truly empathize with others, as well.
If and when I say, “I know, I know sweetie,” I want that to be true. I don’t want to only know a shadow of what feelings feel like, because the full colors were numbed out with food.
I want the depths of sorrow and the heights of joy.

A cheeseburger’s no worthy substitute.

Judy

Write Thank You Letters

Write Thank You Letters
Write Thank You Letters

This is a great exercise that will quickly open up your heart.
Think of someone you are presently feeling grateful to, or someone you are having fond thoughts of at the moment. If someone doesn’t immediately come to mind, think about earlier today and yesterday and find something that served as a pick-me-up, and who might have been responsible for it.
You can use a friend, relative, stranger, someone alive or dead for this exercise. The purpose is not really to shower someone else with praise, rather it is for you to feel your own loving heart flowing.
Once you’ve chosen the recipient of the letter, write a thank you letter! There’s no real guidelines here, just spend at least 5 minutes on it and see where it goes. Here’s some examples:

  • Writing a short card thanking someone for a specific action
  • Leaving a post-it note with a positive message
  • Write a long letter to the author of a book that deeply affected you
  • Write a letter to the leaders of a favorite organization
  • Write a letter to someone saying how much you admire them
  • Post on someone’s wall or send a Facebook message to give a quick appreciation
  • Make a thank you cake! :D

Obviously get as creative as you’d like, but the point is, to feel the happiness of acknowledging something you’ve been given. Not to mention you will probably cause someone to smile and feel appreciated. But again, even if you don’t send the letter or if the recipient is no longer alive or unidentified (Dear-The-Person-Who-Invented-Glitter), the purpose is for you to acknowledge and feel what you already have, what you love.

Judy