For 10 years, I committed to various kinds of personal development, spiritual growth, and meditation practices. There were emotional breakthroughs, life-changing transformations, healed relationships, and eye- & soul-opening epiphanies. But this one thing persisted – a mild annoyance, a blemish in this ‘spiritual high life’- I love sugar. In sugar, I meant carbs, desserts, honey, chocolates, and… you get the idea. In fact, I just chomped down a slice of Swiss roll right before these words rolled.
Each time I bowed to my love for sugar, the guilt of my weak resolve clamped around my chest and gut. And in turn, I might eat chocolate to feel better. It was a vicious cycle that goes on and on. Eventually, I got upset with my own daughter’s love for sugar, certainly a projection of my own personal failure.
Now… how many of you could understand this?
Even if you had no struggles whatsoever with sugar, somehow you could understand what I wrote above. Did it cross your mind at all to ask, “why is eating sugar bad?” or “How is a love of sugar related to awakening?”
I have no idea.
At what point in my life, did I decide that I shall be guilty of indulging in sweets? Maybe Buddha loved sweets? How did a simple pleasure as a child turn into some form of suffering in teenage years and forevermore? What is the root of this suffering?
This single word can possibly explain all suffering in the world. It is, however, one thing to know this word, it is another to allow yourself to admit it and to experience it. And what does it take to experience the conditionings you hold?
First, we see clearly it is conditioning. Recognize it. A mind habit, a belief, a thought, a mental event that is likely highly automatic and instinctive. Secondly, we have to acknowledge that there are indeed sufferings and pain that we are experiencing. Not through the mind but the actual physical sensations that ripple through the body as guilt, shame, etc. arise. We see what we are dealing with as it is. Free from the added mind chatter filled with additional self-judgments, criticisms, stories, or justifications.
I have heard inspirational speakers, coaches, mentors talking about this idea that if you could see it clearly, you can choose to let it go. I would gently disagree. Maybe I can let go of the good-looking heart throb who jogged past me this morning. But for a belief, a mental habit, a neuro-link that has been established in your brain for years and decades, it probably isn’t about letting go at all. Or maybe it is, but it’s not about letting go of the habit, but letting go of the fight with it.
It’s about befriending and reconciliation. A different way of relating to it especially if the relationship had soured over the years.
“I allow you to be here…”
You might say this, and if you are feeling generous you can go, “I welcome you”. Because it is already here anyway. What’s the point of fighting and not wanting it? If you want an added dose of compassion, you might also say “I understand you would show up still, after all, you have been around for a long time”. And doing so most gently and lovingly, you can add –
“When you do show up; I might choose you, or I might not.”
Repeat as many times as needed, with a true desire to reconcile this relationship. Isn’t it a relief to not fight it, deny it, or run away from it anymore? In this relief, chocolates may not or may still feel really attractive. But in this relief, there is space. The space for alternative choices and possibilities. The space for new neuro-links to be formed.
Last week, my daughter had a huge emotional outburst, mainly with an overwhelming amount of anger and bitterness. Being the empath that I am, I started to have gut pain, immense nausea, jaw aches, and brittle stiffness around my chest and shoulders. It seemed like after two to three hours of self-isolation in the room, it hadn’t dissipated. I knocked on the door, peeped in, and she shot me a glare, which basically translated to, “No questions and nagging allowed!”
And I held out my hand, and her face turned into a state of confusion.
A small chocolate.
A barely noticeable smile.
A slight hesitation.
The beginning of openness.
She reached out to receive in an irresolute manner, and I plopped it in her hands. A couple of curt exchanges, and I turned around and left her alone again. My body much lighter, breath is longer and my jaws soften.
Who knows, I might keep my sweet tooth after all. Especially, if it’s the most loving thing I could do for myself, and sometimes for others, in the moment.