I heard a talk recently about the Bhagavad Gita, which is an ancient Hindu teaching. And in it, Krishna, who is a representation of an illuminated being, says that there are several reasons why people change. One is suffering. Another is that we want something. We want to be thin and we’re not. We want to be happy and we’re not. We want a new red car and we don’t have it, so that motivates us to make more money.
We’re motivated to change, to do what we believe that will make our lives better. Except, Krishna says, that when we get past the change, we see that it doesn’t have an impact. So we go back to the first challenge, the suffering. When we get dissatisfied, and suffering becomes the motivation again. We want an instant change. Wanting a big experience that will change us once and for all, forever. This wanting leads to dissatisfaction, which puts us into the category of suffering again, and so the cycle continues.
Krishna says that, ultimately, we want to know the truth. We want to know who we are. Most of us need suffering, and it’s not a bad thing because it motivates us to find out who we actually are.
We come together at my retreats because we’re suffering. We don’t exactly know why. One thing we might accept is that we know this relationship with food is painful. Some of us just want to be thin. That’s a good reason, but it will probably put us back into the suffering part.
We’re suffering because we’re using our relationship with food as a way to be good. Or we’re using our relationship with food as a way to not feel that emptiness. Or we’re using our relationship with food as a way to not feel the absence of a father.
So there’s awareness that comes in. We see that the food we’re eating right now, lots of bread and butter, or sugar or whatever it is, that it doesn’t agree with us. We don’t feel so good afterward.
Awareness is itself a state of being dis-identified from the thing we’re doing, enough that we can look at it from a distance.
That is what awareness is. We’re putting our attention on something. We’re aware that what we’re doing is actually not what we thought we were doing. We thought we were just mad because someone is making us wait, someone is doing something to us. That’s why we think we’re mad, originally. And we have a right to be mad. And anybody would be mad. And now I see that going without goes through many areas of my life. Time. Money. Love. All of that. Oh, this isn’t what I thought it was. Awareness of the pattern becomes apparent.
You always have the capacity to for awareness, because in every moment, you are always aware of something. Awareness is functioning at every minute of a day. You’re just mostly identified with what you’re aware of. And so you don’t pay attention to the awareness itself. You pay attention to the thing you’re aware of.
It’s like as if, in a dark room, I’d shown a flashlight on a cat right now. Everybody would look at the cat. How many people would be looking at the flashlight itself? That is where the light is. That’s how we’re aware of the cat in a dark room. Because there’s a light of awareness. But mostly we’re paying attention to the cat, not to the thing that’s allowing us to see what is happening, which is awareness itself.
We’re so externally focused that we often don’t sit back and observe. When we finally do, then there’s an awareness of what’s going on.
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• Feeling hopeless about ever being free from your obsession with food, eating, or your weight
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2 responses to “Suffering and Wanting”
I’ve read your wisdom over many years. At the moment I’m drifting-retired from a demanding job-with nothing to fill my life.
So I fill it with food.
Interestingly, work on self compassion is having an impact?
My heightened awareness is revealing someone who has previously comprised in life?
You write that we need to trust ourselves where food is concerned. But surely feeling disempowered is a factor in our relationship with food?
I’m finally realising that I’m not living the life I want? Including not even living where I want.
Why? Because I come from a background where money was scarce and years of work-and hanging on to a difficult job-has not changed that reality.
I don’t want a materialistic life-but I do want to live somewhere that makes me feel alive!!
Unfortunately, even the most humble property in that area is incredibly expensive. So what do I do with this feeling of disempowerment other than finding sweetness in food that has made me Ill?
As soon as you figure out the answer to this question I as well have been searching for, please enlighten me with it!