Monday, October 10, 2016

Consuming Food, the Tantric Way.

Many have asked how the heck I managed to put on 10 kgs in the span of four months. Some find it horrendous, others just love it.

I say: So what? Just be happy & enjoy life, that is all.

Me, I really believe in just being happy. Physicality is just a by-product of yoga asana, it should never be the main goal.

When my weight was plummeting, I was miserable. I had no appetite, at most I only had dinner after teaching classes in the evenings. Yet I received a lot of compliments from my female students on my reed-thin figure. Other than that, my joints constantly creaked & my left knee was very susceptible to injury.

When I finally got my head out of my ass, I was constantly hungry, & my meal portions were epic. For the past three months I've been literally gorging on food. & now, the creaking & weakness in my knee - they are no more.

I know it is unfair & irresponsible to say that gorging on food brought my body back to health, that I could have easily taken supplements for my creaking joints & whatnot, but I admit I am no nutritional expert. What I do know is that the body knows best.

So this is what I have been telling my students: Listen to your body.

Yoga asana was designed not only to bring health to the physical body, but also to bring awareness & reestablish the body-mind connection. Why only listen to your body during your asana practice, then ignore it for the rest of the day?

Your body will tell you when it is hungry. It will tell you when to stop eating. It will tell you what kind of nourishment it needs. & I'm going to say it once & for all here: to hell with society's idea of what the perfect body is. Your healthy body weight, your healthy body size, your healthy body proportions...YOU...are unique to you. The girl on the magazine? Probably doesn't look like that in real life. & the people on Instagram? Probably took 148 shots before getting that post-worthy one.

See what I'm getting at?

'But, my body says it wants ice cream & junk food!'

Well, dear friend, listen again. Is it your taste buds speaking, or your body?

But don't take my word for it. Experiment for yourself. Carry on eating whatever your feel like. But take your time when you eat. Observe. Observe how your body feels after you eat. How do certain foods make you feel?

One of my favourite meditations during the Monsoon Festival was an introductory session to the Reminding Yourself of the Forgotten Language of Talking to Your BodyMind. During that time, we took time to specifically & actively thank our physical bodies for working for us. I think this may sound strange to a lot of you, but think about it: have you ever realized how much you take your physical body for granted? Or worse still, not only taking it for granted, but pushing it beyond its limits, to do things that it doesn't want to do, or doesn't enjoy doing?

Although Tantra practices go beyond physicality, it is an essential aspect of the practice.

Well, if you can't feel good in your own body, then what the hell makes you think that you will be comfortable with somebody else? If you can't appreciate your own body, how can you appreciate another's? If you are disconnected from your physical body, how can you connect with another? You have to know your self first before you can even begin to know another.

Even if you are not looking for a partner, then do it for yourself. Contrary to popular belief, Tantra is very much an individual practice. It calls for you to love yourself, in your totality. Love yourself, regardless of what others may think. & you are always responsible for yourself & your happiness - you came into this world by yourself & you will go by yourself; Lord knows who will stay by your side until your dying breath!

So again I will say: take your time when you eat. Don't rush. Observe. Really taste your food. Feel its texture. Observe. Observe. Observe. If you rush, you will not be able to listen to your body, & when it says it has had enough.

On that same note, dear friends, your body will not only tell you what you should & should not eat, but also what activities you should or should not do; but also who is good for you. Again, observe. Does your body tense up around someone? Or do your shoulders start rounding? Do they make your spirit feel lighter or heavier?

These are the ways in which your body will talk to you. It has a heckuva lot to say to you. Are you listening? If not, are you ready to start listening?

Don't you think it's time to stop listening to other people, & start listening to yourself?

Let's end with this Osho excerpt on food intake:

A monk asks a Zen master about his routine after enlightenment. The master replies that I eat when I am hungry and I go to sleep when I am sleepy. The monk says that’s what we also do. The Zen master says “Wait! Think again. Do you eat only when you are hungry?”
We eat every day at one o’clock. We look at the watch; it is one – so then we feel hungry. And the clock may not be right. If somebody says, “That clock has stopped at midnight – it is not functioning. It is only eleven o’clock,” the hunger disappears. This hunger is false; this hunger is just habitual, because the mind creates it, not the body. Mind says, “One o’clock – you are hungry.” You have to be hungry at one o’clock so you are hungry. While hungry, why not meditate a little? – There is no hurry. While hungry just close the eyes and meditate on the hunger, on how the body is feeling. We have lost contact, because our hunger is less bodily, more mental.

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