Last night a friend asked how I take care of my/self. I squirmed for a bit, then confessed that my eating habits are hit-and-miss and I don’t exercise. So, she summed up the obvious, you’re good at looking after others, in fact, you thrive on being of service to others, but when it comes to yourself….
Food and eating has been an “issue” for most of my life: from a childhood of postwar rationing and a family home that had neither fridge nor larder, to a three-year cook’s apprenticeship where access to food was still restricted and we resorted to snatching food off platters, risking verbal and physical reprimands, to a life-long habit of irregular meals eaten in a hurry (except while living at monasteries!).
Once more I want to investigate this strange phenomenon. Having tried this before without much success, I look for a fresh way. Zen teacher Ezra Bayda, recalling the teachings of his teacher Joko Beck, writes about residing in the physical experience of our emotional state. Through the practice of experiencing, he writes, through tracking bodily sensations and continually labelling them …
[w]e identify not so much with “me” or “my anxiety” but with the wider container of awareness that we are calling the witness. From this increase spaciousness, there is a stillness within which we can experience. Our awareness is like the sky, and all the contents of awareness–thoughts, emotions, states of mind–are passing clouds. As we experience our emotions, we come to understand that they are not as dense and substantial as they appear. … But the only way to make this understanding real is through the practice of experiencing itself, whereby we bring awareness to the physical reality of the moment.
source: Bayda, E. (2003). Being Zen: bringing meditation to life. Boston: Shambala, pp. 29-30. image: Deutschlands Kinder Hungern! (German children go hungry); charcoal drawing by Käthe Kollwitz (1867-1945), expressionist printmaker and sculptor.