I’ve lost about 50 lbs since November 8th, 2017. On most days, that number simply does not make any sense to me. I don’t FEEL like I’ve lost 50 lbs. My physical activity hasn’t changed a lot and I’m doing pretty much what I did before I lost 50 lbs. That situation, in an of itself, is a fascinating thought. That a significant change in my size has not, necessarily, issued a corresponding change in physicality. I do what I have always done: bike, hike, walk, run, exercise pretty much everyday for pretty much an hour or two given the activity. I’m a little faster, I have better balance, and I feel good after exercise. That’s pretty much where I’m at, in this moment.
I’ve talked in the past about my diet: vegan, no oil. I’ve varied very very little from my plan. While I was traveling in Asia (Thailand, Bhutan, Japan), I made a few small changes. Otherwise, I’ve kept strictly to the plan with ONE major exception: I’ve added back into my diet and occasional avocado and some nuts.
My weight loss continues: I’m down to 237 on my way to 200. I cannot wear clothes I’ve worn for about 20 years and have had to buy a few new things like pants, shorts, and a shirt or two. The thing that has struck me in this process is that I did not know exactly how much weight I had gained. Honestly, I had no clue and envisioned myself about the same size I was 20 years ago. This particular delusion was a good one to destroy….I was certainly not the same physical size and, more importantly, my health had suffered (even though I did not realize it).
That’s where mental clarity comes into the story. As I have lost pounds, I have also lost delusion. I received a sharp wack to the head last Fall. I sometimes imagine myself sitting in zazen, a teacher wandering the room with a bamboo stick in his hands, me sitting quietly and then SMACK across the top of my back, pain stinging into my spine as I cringe at the pain. That smack was exactly what I received and exactly what I needed. I’ve come to find that being shaken to the core of our beings is the only real way to make significant change. Gradual, heart-felt change is a great idea and rarely accomplished…IMHO.
The mental clarity that came with a serious health scare propelled me to change almost everything. Now, I can see the delusion of my own self image. That image of who we are is formed from a variety of delusions in our minds. My particular delusion: I was healthy, working toward a clear set of goals, and that I was generally doing OK was my particular set of delusions. I wasn’t OK mentally or physically. I painfully uncovered the truth of my practice: that my practice reenforced my ego mind in a powerful way. Rather than destroying my ego-mind, my meditation practice had, in fact, reenforced it. My delusion and meditation become one thing controlled by ego.
Now I am much more vigilant in terms of what I eat, what I feel, and what I think. I have to analyze just about everything. I cannot let one thought go astray. If I do, I risk the same kinds of delusions I suffered from before. In a very real sense, I have to be brutally honest. Yea, and how do I KNOW I’m being brutally honest? Yep, that’s the trick, isn’t it? How to be honest when ego mind is always, always trying to change what you think to serve your own mental formations…ego reinforces thoughts that serve to recreate ego: Self-centered, selfish concerns and ideas.
How the process works, in my case, goes something like this: I analyze my food intake each day. Am I eating whole grains, vegetables, protein in the correct proportions for me? I measure these questions based on my experience and on a set of information provided by http://www.nutritionstudies.org. Further, I check my diet journal for past success…am I stay on track? For mediation and thoughts, it’s much harder but operates on a similar level: what thoughts are emerging? is there a pattern? What does that pattern tell me about those thoughts? How do those thoughts compare to thoughts I’ve had in the past when I am not consumed with anger, happiness, resentment, or joy?
These approaches may sound a bit too OCD or analytical, but there is a real truth to be learned here: that we often delude ourselves into doing something that is bad for us in some way. My goal, simply put, is to do my best NOT to follow those paths to suffering.
My next post is fully dedicated to food: some recipes I’ve developed that worked great!