Babies and wild animals intuitively eat the foods that are appropriate and healthy for their bodies, and instinctively know when to stop eating. What has happened to us adults?! The best weight loss tips and tricks (if lasting weight loss is in fact a “trick,” which is doubtful!) will take this fact about babies and wild animals into account and provide truly helpful tips and tricks (and genuine solutions).
“As a baby I intuitively knew what and how much to eat. Now I’m a grown adult, but my eating is unhealthy and often out-of-control! Something happened to me when I left childhood behind…but what?”
This “something” is the fundamental reason for compulsive eating, overeating, and obesity. Its name is the “mind/body split.” The mind/body split is very simple. Over time, we’ve been taught to give so much attention to our thoughts that we’ve become identified with the mind. At the same time, we’ve given less and less attention to the body, to the point where we’ve lost touch with its natural needs for healthy and moderate amounts of food. We’ve lost touch with its natural signals of hunger and satiety. And we’ve lost touch with our emotions, which are bodily experiences (this in itself is an underlying cause of the 75% of overeating that is estimated to be “emotional eating!”).
Most people intuitively understand the mind/body split when they first hear about it.
The mind/body split means that we’ve come to conceive of ourselves as a “mental self,” rather than a mind and body. When you think about where you “are” in your experience, don’t you think of your “self” as being up in your head, looking out of your eyes, and listening out of your ears?
Would you say “I am a body,” or “I have a body?” Most people would say “I have a body,” as if their body were a possession like a car. Or an appendage, dangling below what they imagine to be their true self, the mind.
The realization that you’ve been identifying mostly as a mind, and not a mind and body, is shocking and the potential beginning of lasting food freedom.
The mind/body split is the origin of most people’s struggles with food and body weight. Yet it may be difficult to understand how powerful this insight is until you intentionally place more awareness or “mindfulness” onto your body. How powerfully could you transform your eating simply by giving more mindful attention to the body’s sensations, hunger and satiety signals, and emotions? Could you become (to quote a great spiritual teacher) “as a child again,” alive again with an uncorrupted, intuitive, and mindful relationship to food?
Mindfulness of the body is the foundation of a mindfulness approach to eating and weight management, and gradually heals the mind/body split.
You can start to get in touch again with the body’s natural food needs, and its hunger and satiety – just like a baby – with an easy and calming exercise called “body scanning.” While the most thorough or relaxing body scan takes 20 to 45 minutes, even a 5 to 10 minute body scan can be therapeutic.
Instructions for a Brief Body Scan: Close your eyes and take 1-2 minutes to scan your “inner body” with your awareness to find the points that are the most tense and contracted. Spend the next 3-5 minutes being mindfully aware of these places. (There’s no need to force anything to relax. Just paying mindful attention to different parts of your body will gradually relax tense and contracted muscles.) End by taking several deep breaths.
Did you notice your mind wandering during this exercise? If so, don’t worry, it happens to everyone at the beginning. The wandering mind is the direct experience of the mind/body split! With time and practice, you will once again become one with the body. And you may not need any “weight loss tips and tricks” ever again, because you’ve discovered the root cause for out-of-control eating, and its solution.
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