Blinded by the light
The other day I strode into the house, went straight to the frig and yanked open the door. Boy, was it bright in there. Everything was lit up and I squinted blankly back.
I shut the door.
I jerked the door open.
I needed to eat something.
I scanned the crowded glass shelves hoping whatever it was I wanted to eat would show itself. I really needed something more than the cool air and bright lights but nothing on the shelves was “doing it” for me, if you know what I mean. I needed something right now. Why couldn’t I see what it was? It had been one of those days when everyone needed something from me all day long: my attention, my signature, my decision, my time. I pushed the stainless steel door shut a little too hard, my hand hanging onto the handle as though it was a life line.
I was about to pull open the door again when I realized I felt angry: I needed to eat something and yet nothing appealed, nothing looked good, nothing looked like it would do the trick. I didn’t know what I wanted to eat.
Have you ever found yourself staring into the refrigerator, the cupboard, a cooler at a gas station stop or going up and down an aisle in the grocery store, wanting something but finding nothing you want to eat? Opening and closing the frig door. Banging the cupboard doors. Spinning the lazy-susan. Standing in an aisle staring at the bag of chips you just picked up, then putting it down, then picking up the next bag and staring at the bright packaging, then putting it back. Looking for something to eat, not even hungry.
Really, you’ve never done any of these? Come on, everybody’s done this! We’re tired, angry, sad, bored, scared or ashamed and we reach for food to soothe, comfort, numb, reward, punish or distract. Your mis-use of food isn’t that unique, because you’re human and it’s a habit of the mind.
My colleague, Jan Chozen Bays recently facilitated her 6-week online Mindful Eating course sponsored by Shambhala Press. In responding to a person who wrote in that she would stand in front of the frig until her eyes spied a tasty morsel and her mouth agreed, Jan wrote:
“The other thing I catch myself at that makes me laugh is “rummaging through the (full) cupboards and finding nothing I want to eat.” That’s always my clue that what I’m feeling is not about body hunger — but something else. Then I check it out — is anybody actually hungry in there?”
Char Wilkins, USA
Can you catch yourself looking in all the wrong places and be curious, not critical? Can you be really interested in what’s going on with you? Which of the 8 hungers is it? If you discover it’s really Heart Hunger, how might you nourish your heart?