28 Days of Abstinence - Day 28 - Lasting Change
“...[L]asting change only comes when we transcend the energies that created it
[whatever the 'problem' is as we see it].” --Lauren C Gorgo
How do we make lasting change? Starting where we are. Being willing to be a beginner every moment. Questioning and Bargaining. Backsliding and starting over. Being honestly inconsistent. Putting one foot in front of the other until we realize - sometimes suddenly - that we no longer need to drink or yell or bite our fingernails or tell lies or overeat or whatever it is we do that gets in our way.
But what is it, exactly, that we are transcending?
I can't answer that question for you, but what I have realized for myself over this twenty-eight days is that what I need to transcend to make this change permanent is not my addiction to wheat, but my addiction to AVERSION.
According to the Buddha, there are two habits which get in the way of enlightenment, clinging and aversion. Both are present, I believe, in any form of addiction, but one may overshadow the other in terms of its power over a particular individual. In my case, aversion is the stronger of the two.
I do experience negative sensations relative to clinging - I WANT a croissant because we have them every weekend and I cling to this tradition and the memories it produces, I WANT salted rosemary bread because I remember how good it tastes and I cling to the sensation of warmth and happiness this good taste gives me - but I can most often override the sensations that clinging produces in my body and abstain. What really gets to me is the sensation of aversion.
For some reason if I am simply clinging, I can abstain, but when I start to feel aversion to the feelings brought on by the abstaining, I have much more trouble not giving in.
So the problem is not wheat, it's the feeling I have when I "deprive" myself of wheat that I cannot stand. And it is this energy that I need to transcend in order to have a hope of lasting change. So what is this energy?
If I think about it, what comes to me is that it is the energy of "lack of control."
As a child I was not in control of my diet and there were many, many things that I wanted that I was not allowed to have - at least not very often - white bread, Doritos, soda, candy, chips. Now these are all good things for my parents to have kept me from eating AND something about being prevented from eating them triggered something in me which makes it hard for me to transcend this feeling of not getting what I want food-wise.
This feeling of being deprived sends me back to an earlier time. I feel like a four-year-old who wants to lie on the floor and tantrum and the adult me tries to do whatever she can - as fast as she can - to make this feeling stop. And so I eat the croissant or the rosemary bread despite the knowledge that I probably shouldn't. And as soon as I do I feel "okay" again. And then I feel sick and bloated AGAIN.
I find these twenty-eight day challenges a great way to work with these feeling and to begin to transcend these kinds of energies because focusing on this one thing for twenty-eight days means that I am not trying to deal with my aversion to feelings of deprivation in the midst of a million other things. I put it front-and-center so when these feelings arise, I can face them head-on and work with them.
I can feel the icky feelings and want to tantrum and reach for the bread and I can say NO instead and reach for an apple or some carrots, or I can take a few deep breaths, or I can go for a walk, or I can lie down on the floor and just feel how it feels not to get something I really, really want to eat.
And I can tell my four-year-old self that it's okay. That she CAN have that bread if she wants to, but that I am CHOOSING not to. And that makes all the difference.
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I hope that you have enjoyed this twenty-eight day challenge and that it has benefitted you in some way. Starting tomorrow I will begin my next twenty-eight days of abstinence from wheat, hoping to build on the past twenty-eight days and ingrain a habit. These next twenty-eight days will be "silent" and I will not be writing about them.
Wednesday I will resume my normal once a week blog post, with an announcement for an upcoming class starting May 4th. I hope you will check back then.
In the meantime, have a pleasant Sunday and if you break your fast tomorrow, enjoy whatever it is you have been abstaining from once again!