Greetings from the Land of Enchantment: Diary of a Compulsive Eater

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Diary of a Compulsive Eater

You can’t necessarily pick out a compulsive eater on the street. Food “issues” come in many forms and many shapes. Some can’t stand the sensation of being full; others have to feel stuffed, to the point of pain, before they feel satiated. Most compulsive eaters eat simply because they want to feel differently, which doesn’t mean we know how we feel in the first place, only that we want to not feel anything at all—comfortably numb. And even if you’re not a compulsive eater, most people on any given day don’t eat just because they’re hungry. There is often a mix of exhaustion, fatigue, loneliness, stress or anxiety thrown into the recipe of eating behaviors. And the choices we make in those moments aren’t always for our highest good. How do we change the pattern?

Compulsive behavior is a by-product of duality. What do I mean by that? Well, let’s first look at the terms themselves. Merriam-Webster defines compulsive as “having the power to compel, to drive or urge forcefully or irresistibly.” It’s generally associated with obsession or obsessive thinking. In the yogic model, this can be identified as a samskara, a karmic imprint, which drives you toward certain behavior. In the model described by Yogi Bhajan, it relates directly to the Hidden Self, a sub-conscious persona which takes over the rational personality and drives thought and behavior patterns.

Duality is a way of thinking that puts everything into black and white, left and right, good and bad. When we’re in duality, we experience doubt; because we’re always questioning, searching, looking for something else. We are not in alignment with what is—right here and now. Ultimately, duality puts God outside our selves and the results are typically disastrous: shame and blame, distorted expectations, and a nasty case of “self-will run riot.” In many ways, duality is actually the result of self-will.

When we live in our identity—Infinity—then we live in the flow of life, as it is, right here, right now. When we live in that flow, we are in what Yogi Bhajan often called “unisoness.” We are not separated; we don’t experience the anxiety and stress of duality. We’re relaxed; we’re in sahaj. When we live in self-will, we are constantly trying to make something happen, namely what we want! And it’s exhausting! That exhaustion leads to compulsive behaviors. Driven by a blind will to grasp at the things we believe we need, we are unable to relax and let go.

If you think about all the organs that respond to and deal with stress—they are bound up with the digestive system. Our adrenal glands, our diaphragm and our solar plexus, all contribute to the fight or flight mechanism in thesympathetic nervous system—our gut reaction. The stomach and the pancreas and the gall bladder are right there, too. So our fears and our anxieties get tied into this response mechanism—that gut reaction. The problem is, the foods we eat and the habits we have established over the years have created a looped, automatic response. We’re not really fighting for our lives, but we feel like we are; or we don’t know what we feel at all. And here we return to our initial point—how do we change the pattern?

When I’m eating compulsively, I am not in the present moment. I’m not here in my body. I’m in my head. My thoughts are spinning and I simply want something to make me feel differently. I am in duality. I don’t like what’s happening now—and I may not even understand or comprehend the source of my discomfort—I simply want out. This is the key. If we can stop and recognize this moment for what it is—a profound disconnect from ourselves, our own bodies, and our own God within—then we can find the true remedy. We can take a breath and reconnect. It is this pause that allows us to make the shift, to change the pattern.

The literature of recovery says, “pause when agitated or in doubt”; the literature of the Guru says “rahao”. Stop and reflect. Wait a moment. Relax. Reconnect. Live in sahaj. Know that the Guru is the Doer.

There are so many aspects of our lives changing and growing in dynamic patterns at any given moment. It’s easy to focus on the things that aren’t working; it’s easy to be hard on ourselves. Instead, turn your attention. Pause. Give it to the Guru and experience victory—thir gar baiso—in all your affairs.

One bite at a time, one breath at a time, it will change. And all I have to do is surrender to the moment.

Note: You can meditate with Thir Gar Baiso on my latest album, Queen Be: The Goddess Within, available through CD Baby at

This article originally appeared on Spirit Voyage's Blog in January of 2012.


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