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Archive for July 23rd, 2010

Understanding

If you understand, things are just as they are; if you do not understand, things are just as they are.
— Zen proverb

As I said in my last post, I am working on understanding my reasons and motivations and the causes of my suffering. This proverb acts as a reminder to me that understanding these reasons will not change anything about my situation. This is a good thing because it keeps me aware that the journey is not the destination. Even if I gain complete clarity as to why my weight ballooned up to 330 pounds, I will still be overweight. Understanding the causes of my suffering is only one step on the way toward a healthy lifestyle. The Four Noble Truths allow us to begin to enter into a right view but that is only the first step on the eightfold path. I am gaining understanding about my suffering and it is helping me to begin to work toward ending it and that’s a great thing but I need to remember that I have much work ahead of me. Where are you on your journey? What are you trying to understand and what will not change once you gain the understanding of it?

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The first chapter of Savor presents a Buddhist perspective on weight gain and loss and there are a lot of questions for contemplation in that chapter. I have taken the time to write each one down in order to spend time thinking about them so that I had better insight into my attitudes and thoughts about my weight and my relation to food. Here is the first of many blog posts where I share my answers to some of those questions.

The Question:

What type of suffering have you endured because of your weight? Physical pain? Emotional pain? A feeling of shame, insecurity, regret, anger?

The Answer:

All of the above. Because of my weight, I have had knee pain and physical discomfort because I am too big. I have sleep apnea because I carry too much fat. My body struggles under the load of carrying its own weight. Sometimes going up or down stairs can cause me to become winded because my body is not able to make it up or down one flight without straining itself. When I feel the pain and discomfort of my obesity, it naturally leads to the emotional pain. Hopelessness hurts. A lot. When you feel as if you are trapped under layers upon layers of fat that hold you more securely than any prison, it hurts. Since I felt hopeless to be able to change, I would turn to food to help alleviate that emotional hurt but that would only lead to more pain and suffering in the end.

I love to be in the water but I rarely go into a pool because I am ashamed about my appearance. When I look at myself in the mirror, I feel shame as well: at least when I’m being honest with myself about how I look. The shame naturally leads to insecurity and a feeling that others judge me based on my appearance. My depression caused me to have a distorted sense of self-worth that would work in tandem with my shame to create powerful feelings of insecurity. There were times when I would think about death and look forward to the experience. Regret and anger go hand in hand with the shame and guilt and pain and hopelessness that my obesity was causing. I was in a tremendous amount of pain and I didn’t know what to do.

Fortunately, I now know that there is hope and that I can change and I am changing. I have been handed the keys to my own prison and I am unlocking the door to freedom. Now, instead of suffering, I feel hope and joy and forgiveness and love. It’s a much better place to be.

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