My wonderful, talented and amazing friend Monica Breen owns and is an instructor at Be Nice Yoga in Detroit (that’s her in her beautiful midtown studio). She sent this message out to the Be Nice mailing list the other day and I wanted to share her wise words.
Thought is supplied to us by food; if the food is pure our thoughts will also be pure. ~Swami Vibhooti Saraswati
Food can be complicated, so I keep it simple: I do my best to eat things that don’t come from a box and are still alive. I do this as often as possible. I don’t find this too difficult to do. In fact, I really enjoy the taste of fresh fruits and vegetables. I also love juicing and have found that it has reduced my cravings for the kinds of food that masquerade as the fulfilling nutrients my body really needs.
Over the holiday, with all the party food and leftovers in the fridge, my relationship to food momentarily shifted. I found myself eating food because it tasted good. I ate when I wasn’t hungry. I didn’t discriminate much. Suddenly the impetus to eat wasn’t driven by my quest for physical, mental, or spiritual health. Instead, I was eating from my emotions. I was able to identify and categorize my pattern of unconscious consumption quite easily, because I spent many years doing this. It was familiar and interesting, not troubling. However, what I did find it disturbing was the heavy and melancholy mornings, the lack of motivation in all areas of my life, the feeling of sometimes being sad or depressed. Food had become a barrier between me and my state of happiness, or Ananda if you want a sanskirt term.
Food is very powerful.
Yoga is not a dogmatic practice. It doesn’t tell you what you can or can’t do. I think of it as an endless number of suggestions to try. But these suggestions are not soundbites. They aren’t Groupons, Lululemon clothing, or a party. They are ancient methods that manifest into a life worth living. Sometimes it takes days, months, years – some say lifetimes of practice. But don’t let that last thought discourage you, because the formula is easy: all you have to do is unroll your mat and practice.
After over thirteen years of practice, I find I spend more time wondering if I’m hungry, than eating. In other words, I am able to access my body’s information with more precision and clarity. That’s a sign that the boundary between my practice and my lifestyle is disappearing. I like that very much. Consider taking a step back from what you eat and instead, spend time considering how you eat. Let it unfold like the yogasana you do when you come to your mat. Be curious, rather than judgmental. Loose the expectations, and build your greater awareness. Let this be a chance for discovery. Keep in mind, nothing is permanent.
Use the yoga tools to unearth the perfection inside of you. Lay down your mat, practice, and let the rest take care of itself.