Watch The Urge To Eat (Or What You Should Not) - Simply Pass By, Using Mindful Meditation
It was Socrates who said that the "unexamined life is not worth living." I paraphrase that by saying if you do not examine what you are doing (and then do not do the right thing), you are not going to have a very long or healthy life to examine. The way life works is that when we do things correctly with regard to diet, exercise, not smoking, and so on, we are very likely to have a long life where nothing goes wrong, or essentially nothing goes wrong, health wise; perhaps a rare cold, but most of the diseases of our culture are avoided because most diseases come from the way we set ourselves up to get knocked down by virtue of what we do wrong.
In the April 26, 2003, New York Times the current (14th) Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, wrote an article about calm self-examination using mindful meditation which I will now paraphrase: the destructive urges to continuously overeat or feeling uncontrollable hunger can numb judgment or make one tense and irritable, which feelings can result in devastating personal behaviors that result in overeating, followed by anxiety, depression, and even hostility. We need not be apathetic and hopeless in the face of these temptations and emotions because being such can lead us to believe that destructive overeating is beyond our control. Mindful meditation can create a buffer between the brain and the violent uncontrolled impulses to overeat, or our thoughtless acquiescence. About food and eating, most of us act like squirrels rushing back and forth almost mindlessly gathering nuts for the forthcoming harsh winter. Mindful meditation assists in dealing effectively with thoughtless activity. Mindful meditation is when you mentally take half a step back and are not so completely involved in what you are saying, doing, and thinking at that moment. In mindful meditation you begin to observe yourself, becoming aware that you can be more broad-visioned and calm as you go about whatever you are doing. This grander thinking of mindful meditation is simply and carefully observing yourself patiently and calmly as you do things.
This self-reflection or mindful meditation can help us find a new way to look at our own personal emotions, thoughts, and behaviors. Meditation should not be a self centered, titillating, egotistical past time but should nurture practical expressions of self-change and positive behavior (Laibl Wolf teachings 6/27/2003). The goal here is to focus our own mind, consciousness, and emotions - which focus can then allow us to control our impulses and thereby choose to eat correctly and with restraint.
As we face the urge to eat, we should practice equanimity and mindfulness. So doing makes us calmer, happier, and less impulsive by being less self-destructive through this proper mature restraint. This reflective thoughtfulness or mindfulness is a state of awareness in which the mind does not get caught up in thoughts or temptations, but lets them come and go much like watching a river flow by. Here is how to do this. If you will take a second, step back, wait, and just patiently observe the feelings of temptation from food, these non-thinking feelings of overwhelming hunger which poison our judgment and make us so impulsive, or later cause apathy and depression about what you ate, your weight, lack of discipline, or calorie-induced disease, will seldom overwhelm you.
You will not need a drug, surgery, or an injection. You do not have to adopt any particular insight or religious faith. You can cope even when you feel devilishly tempted as if God or your own biology is not watching the type of food or calories you eat, such as when "it is lunch time," you are in a restaurant, on a vacation, or at a party/affair. To achieve a deeper level of happiness, we cannot neglect these inner thoughts and emotions. This is the purpose for using mindful meditation.
As Socrates implied, examine yourself, do it patiently, simply observe yourself, let the hunger urge, and urge to eat, simply pass by. You will survive just fine. To be perfectly frank, if you are overweight, you could avoid eating a meal or two or three, once or twice a week. That is not to suggest you starve yourself. That is, when you are out where there are improper food choices or there is no food limitation, stand as on a riverbank and simply watch your hunger pangs pass in 60 seconds. You can even count "1 no eat" or "1 be patient", "2 no eat" or "2 be patient", "60 no eat," and more than 50% of the time, you will have no urge to eat within that 1 minute. When you do this, you will find you survived that minute and can even do it again. Turn your attention away from food, continue to observe yourself using this mindful meditation, do not focus on the food/eating, have a cup of green tea, and you will be fine and trimmer.
H. Robert Silverstein, MD