Competition and Weight Loss

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Yesterday, I told my daughter I lost more weight when we were competing.  We had a chart online we could update and we would earn “stars” (points) when we accomplished certain things during each day.  For example, exercising for 30 minutes got a star, each of us eating within our personal calorie goal got a star, drinking enough water got a star, avoiding gluten got a star.  For each day we could each earn 4 stars.  After a month, we would see who had earned the most stars and they would get a prize from the other one.

That worked very well for a couple months, then we realized if we are not equally motivated the race becomes too lopsided.  I lost 18 lbs and she lost 10.  I was intense and strict and she was dealing with a family of 6 and didn’t have the energy to be so strict.  I didn’t want to get too much ahead because much of my motivation was to help her reach her goals, more than I cared for my goals, so I slacked off, waiting for her.

Competition can work very well if at least two of the participants are serious about it.

I decided I will compete with myself, and reward myself.  When I was competing with my daughter we decided together what daily goals would earn stars, but alone I am setting up different goals.  Now I get a point for getting enough rest (which for me with my nerve condition is 12 hours a night), doing things that bring me joy instead of stress, drinking enough water, exercising, and staying within my calorie goals.

Being a stress eater, a depressed eater, a bored eater, and a tired eater, I believe these new daily goals of rest and happy activities for stars will have a positive effect on my weight loss efforts.

I also set up a place where my sisters and daughters and I can post images of clothing we like.  Constant reinforcement of rewards will be helpful as well.

Also, of course, reevaluating my weight loss motivations through focusing is helping me recognize and let go of negative, self sabotaging roadblocks as well.  Click here for more on focusing when it comes to motivation and self sabotage.

The Sacred Questions and Self Awareness

There was a time in my life when things were just so bad!  In my mind I felt hopeless.  I could not see a way out.  I was stuck.  I had been taught all my life, however, that we are special and that we humans are meant to overcome our difficulties in life; to learn and grow from them even.  In those dark moments I thought to myself, “If I could just know who I am, I could overcome my problems!”  My question was, how could I know myself?

Like many of us, if not all, we have been taught how to behave since childhood.  Stuffing our emotions is often part of that learning.  As we grow we become more and more disconnected from ourselves, disconnected from who we really are.  Instead we play a role set out for us by society and our families.  This is normal for a society, but in my opinion, when the disconnect is strong, broken people are the result.

“Know thyself!” is an admonition given to us students by our teacher Tom Brown Jr. in Scout Class at Tracker School.  “Know thine enemy!” is the second.  “Sometimes thine enemy is thyself!” he states, almost an after thought, but likely is key to the awareness of self.  These are sayings handed down by the Apache Scouts, Tom says.  “Know thyself, and Know thine enemy,” seems to be a common theme in warfare.  Self awareness can help us learn if we are thwarting our own progress, if we are the enemy we face.

The Sacred Questions are the key to knowing ourselves.  “How am I feeling?  How can I heal it?  What more can I learn from this?” and many other questions that can spin off them take us on a journey of self discovery.  As we move through the layers of emotions and feelings, learning what we feel, why we feel this way, and what we can do about it, we move closer to who we really are.  Meaning, the emotions are not us but are reactions to things in our lives based on our experiences and the people around us.  The problem is the reactions are based on limited perspectives; what we can see and understand from our limited viewpoints.  Our perspectives are so limited we can in no way understand everything around us and therefore our feelings and reactions are skewed by our limited perspective.  In stronger terms, our perspectives and reactions are wrong simply because they are based on limited understanding.

What I am proposing is to get past the emotions and reactions which are the byproducts of our living experiences, and get to the pure self; the essence of who we are, which is hidden beneath the layers and layers of feelings and emotions.

When our class was sent out to our individual sit areas in the woods (where we could be alone) to do this exercise, we were given 45 minutes.  We wrote down each layer and why we felt that way.  I worked very hard to move through the layers because I had paid a lot of money for this class and I was going to get the most out of it!  Shortly, I found myself being distracted after each layer.  My mind would wander off in a day dream until I remembered the exercise and pulled myself back.  Going deep in those layers was surprisingly difficult.  There was some resistance by my physical mind; almost a little tantrum of not wanting to look for another layer, thinking there could not possibly be anything else, and being tired of the exercise.  This resistance was almost painful.

I remembered, though, when Tom sent us out he hollered after us in his booming voice, “If you think you have gone through the layers far enough, keep going!!!”

I am so glad I forced myself to move doggedly through the layers.  This exercise gave me a priceless gem of understanding.  I got to the point there were no more layers of emotions, only a vision of energy, symbolism which I understood, and a sense of who I am at the most pure level: strong, powerful, amazing.  I was shocked at that revelation and couldn’t help bawl my eyes out for the next half hour; not even stopping when we were called in, it was that uncontrollable.  I was full of joy and gratitude for what I saw/understood.  I can never forget that moment and the change it brought to my sad, hopeless and helpless little life.

I share this exercise with you.  Could you make use of peeling back the layers to learn who you really are?  Would this enable you to approach life from a greater understanding.

If you should choose to do this exercise you may share your results here.  I would love to see how it works for other people.

The Sacred Questions and Weight Loss

The Sacred Questions are questions we ask when focusing.  The Sacred Questions can be anything we want to know about.  The Sacred Questions are asked to bring greater awareness to anything we might encounter.

When I asked myself the Sacred Question, “Why do I want to lose weight?” and I got a faint hearted or wishy washy response I realized I was not asking the right question.  My heart was not cooperating with my idea to lose weight and I needed to change the question.  I asked a different question, “Why do I NOT want to lose weight?” and got some very powerful core reactions and answers to why I would NOT want to lose weight.  There is a lot of fear involved with the prospect of my being my best physically.  This is something I will look deeply into as I am ready, day by day, asking many more Sacred Questions.

Some Sacred Questions might be, ” What am I afraid of?  What can I do about it?  How can I heal it?  What more do I need to understand about this?”  With each of these Sacred Questions I will go to nothingness, thoughtlessness, and see what returns.  There may be an image, a word, an understanding, a feeling, an event relived, or other type of answer.  There may even be something in the environment that answers my question.  Each Sacred Question can be asked over and over, peeling back the layers of answers to that one question.  New questions may spin off answers received, taking me in a new direction of understanding.

The Sacred Questions can be asked by anyone, whether looking within or looking outside ourselves, at our environment.  The Sacred Questions can be asked about absolutely anything.  I learned about the tool of the Sacred Questions from my teacher Tom Brown Jr.  He learned about the tool of the Scared Questions from his teacher, an Apache elder, Stalking Wolf.

If you have not tried this technique for introspection relating to weight loss, or anything else, I encourage you to try asking and see what you find out.  As Tom Brown says, and I paraphrase, “The only failure of the Sacred Questions are the failure to ask them.”  And, interestingly, the simple act of asking will uncover a lot.  Exploring our psyche through asking ourselves questions and surrendering to the answers that return will shed light on dark places; bring hidden things to our attention.

This can be painful but the pain does not last.  This is what is called ‘leaning into the sharp places’ and by doing so, and feeling those painful spots, we can help heal them.  After all, it is impossible to remain in a feeling forever, the emotions will come and they will go.  From my experience, as I feel into those painful places, it hurts a lot.  I know it is not fun.  I have had some things that have taken me years to get over, but I believe by occasionally shedding light on those wounded places, usually unwillingly I must admit, I was able to gradually let go of the pain.

Now I have some work ahead of me and this introspection may take awhile.  I want to understand my aversion to looking and feeling my best.  Why does this image repulse me?

What introspection might you be curious about?  Remember — and this is paramount to the success of this exercise — there must be only kindness and non judgement when asking the questions and receiving the answers.  Only through love of self and understanding that there are reasons for everything can healing occur.

I would love to hear about your experiences if you should decide to try asking the Sacred Questions and surrendering to the answers.

If you would like to read another post about focusing, click HERE.

Motivation, Self Sabotage and Weight Loss

Motivation.  We may think we know why we are motivated to lose weight and look our best, but could our idea of why we are motivated really be holding us back?  Sometimes we think we intend to lose weight but in reality we intend to stay the way we are, only that intention is hidden.

This morning I began questioning why I am having difficulty losing weight when losing weight has been easy for me before.  Why do I lack conviction?  Why do I sabotage myself?   I found some answers through focusing, or as my teacher Tom Brown Jr. would call it: inner vision or looking within.  I began with the question, “Why do I want to lose weight?”  I surrendered to nothingness and waited for the answers to arise, one by one.  The answers that returned were wishy washy and lacked conviction: “I want to look good.  I want to be healthy.  I want to feel good.  I want to be my best.”

I was puzzled by the lack of conviction I felt so I asked myself, “Why do I not want to lose weight?” and surrendered to nothingness to feel the answers arise within me, one after another as I peeled back the layers of my motivation to stay as I am: “Looking my best scares me.  I feel safer when I am heavy.  Looking less than my best helps me to be invisible.  More will be expected of me if I look and feel my best.  I’m too angry to want to look good.  Thinking about looking my best makes me feel like I want to cry and die.  I feel vulnerable when I think about looking my best.  I feel broken when I think about looking my best.  I want to scream at the image of me looking my best.  I want to scream at everything when I think about looking my best.  I feel pain when I imagine myself looking my best”

Wow.  These answers, as I go deeper and deeper are getting more painful and violent the deeper I go.  I have some very real issues regarding looking good.  I have some strong programming about staying heavy and tired and ill as I am.

This is a lot to take in.  I am going let this information simply be for a while and let my conscious mind ponder these answers..  I will work on this later.  My brain is on overload right now.  More later.

 

Focusing For Happiness and Weight Loss

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Focusing will help you give your attention to one of the many, like picking one flower to look at from the garden.

The other day when I was focusing away my depression (click here for previous post) I hit upon an idea which I started immediately using.  I spent moments throughout the day centering my attention inward, as is done in focusing to discover emotional layers, but instead of asking how I am feeling, I quiet myself and center my awareness deep inside my core and touch the place where I feel peace, relaxation, and love for myself; I then ask myself, “”What do I want to do right now?”  This sets me up for working on something I really want to do, plus I am always much more productive when I am doing what I most want to do.  Surprisingly, the answer to what I most want to do is often to organize something, or do the dishes, or help one of my children with their homework, or some other chore.  My answer is not always to make art!  That doesn’t matter though, because I am doing something I really want to do at that point in time, that fits in my overall life plan; something that is calling for my attention, and gives me pleasure to accomplish.

I am realizing that this first focusing question, “What do I want to do right now?” does not remove any of the myriad of chores that were overwhelming me when I wrote about focusing away depression in my last blog.  Instead, this process allows me to temporarily place all those things in a holding pattern, patiently waiting in line, as I accomplish the one chore that will bring me the most satisfaction at this time.  Then I can ask again for what is the next thing I really want to do.  This first question takes care of reducing stress, allowing me to enjoy the process of accomplishing things, and have more joy in my journey.  I am finding that in my core, I do want to accomplish all the things necessary for success in my goals.  In other words, I am not wanting to play all the time, but asking what to do first allows me to let go of the rest until they pop up as what I want to do next.

For the weight loss part, I focus again to that deep centered place within my core, where I am calm and relaxed.  I remind myself that I am me, one person, centered on myself and my needs right now; knowing I have to take care of myself (no one else is going to do this for me) to be healthy and balanced; reminding myself that I answer only to myself and no one else for my health and well being and happiness; reminding myself I do not have to let anyone stress me out or make me feel less than I am; creating a protective shield of seperation around myself that allows me to rest when I want to, eat when I want to, and focus on a chore or fun activity when I want to.  Once I am centered and balanced and ready to take care of myself, I ask myself, “What do I want to eat that will make me feel good and help me be my best self?”  My answers have been the healthy foods I know are good for me and make me feel good and will help me lose my excess weight.  When I then proceed to eat the healthy food, I do feel good.  When I have not centered myself and focused on what I want to eat that will help me be healthy and my best self, I find myself reaching for chocolate, or ice cream, or bread and butter, or cereal, etc.

The key is focusing away from external stimulation that cause me to want to eat fattening sugary foods.  Resting when I am tired.  Pausing when I feel stressed, evaluating that stress, and focusing for what I want to do next.  Eating sugary starchy food, which makes me feel sleepy, is a way I have been self medicating and dulling my senses so I don’t have to feel stress.  Or, I reach for the giant (and I do mean giant!) bar of chocolate to rev me up and give me a big push, which gives me a high I enjoy, but does not benefit my health in the long run, nor does eating chocolate help me put my finger on what I really want to do.

I understand that this method is not easy when there are so many demands made upon us by external sources (and to be honest, most of the stresses and demands in my life are self induced).  Regardless, I have to do something to get my happiness and health back, so I now give myself permission to experiment with focusing for happiness and weight loss.  Once the simple meditation is accomplished a few times, it really takes very little time to recenter and ask those two questions again: “What do I want to do right now?” and “What do I want to eat that will help me be healthy and happy and be my best self?”

Focusing for happiness and weight loss worked so well for me yesterday (I know . . . only one day) that I wanted to share the process.  I will let you, dear readers, know how it goes as I continue with this experiment.  Also, if anyone wants to try this, I would love to hear how it goes for you in the comments section!  Love and happiness and health to you all.

Focusing Away Depression

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I awoke today frustrated about how I was feeling.  For the past few days I have been feeling depressed and overwhelmed.  I wanted to call my daughters and whine about it, but I couldn’t find my phone.  I thought about going to see my therapist but remembered I have all the tools I need, I don’t really need my therapist for this; I guess I just wanted to complain to someone.

“I need to focus” I reminded myself.  Focusing is a technique I learned from my teacher Tom Brown Jr. and the basics of which are also described in a book called “Focusing”.

I lay down on my bed to begin the meditation, and there was my phone!  I chuckled to myself because I realized that I simply need to focus instead of relying on the crutch of complaining to my family, and that is why I couldn’t find my phone!

Focusing is like peeling back the layers of emotion, one by one, to see what is going on in that mix of emotions you might be feeling.

I began by asking myself, kindly and gently as a loving mother might, “How are you feeling?” and the first layer popped up.

“I am feeling angry!” came the feeling.  There was roaring and screaming and gnashing of teeth inside me.  I let myself feel it.

“Why?” I asked.

I was surprised that there were so many things I was angry about and they were all swirling around me: Too many things I want to do; Overwhelmed by all of it; Can’t get things done fast enough; Don’t even want to do them; Angry that I have to; People I have been angry with even popped up . . . it was like everything I have ever been angry about was there.  It felt sharply painful in the center of my chest.

“OK, that’s good to know,” I said to myself, reassuringly, trying not to get stuck in this first layer and remember the next step.  Oh yeah . . . “Now, set that first layer aside . . . and aside from that, how am I feeling?”

I let the anger move up and out of me and I felt for the next layer.  “I’m feeling depressed.”

“Why?” I asked.

“Because I feel ineffectual, like there are so many things I feel like I am supposed to do: build my art studio, finish the barn, learn the edible and medicinal plants, work on genealogy, do school with the kids, run errands, make food, lose weight, clean the house, etc. and I have so little energy.  I feel like a failure.”

“OK, that’s good to know,” I tell myself.  “Now, aside from that, how am I feeling?”

I let the second layer move up and out of me and I felt for the third layer.  I felt a glimmer of timid joy.

“Why?” I asked, “Why am I feeling this little bit of joy?”

“I love color,” was the answer.

“Tell me more,” I asked.

“I love making art, I LOVE working with color!” The feeling of joy was getting stronger.  I began blissfully thinking about making a scarf, and began designing it in my mind.  I started thinking about the necklaces, and tunics, I have been designing in my mind the past week or so.

I had stopped working on art after the art fair because I was spending all my time with organizing and working on the household and the building projects and had not made any art since before the fair.

I felt guilty even thinking about making art because of all the other things I felt like I was supposed to do.

Somehow I have to find a balance.

I can stop beating myself up and forcing myself to spend my time entirely on chores.  I can have the fun time in order to balance everything out and be happy.  In fact, the joyous pursuits can be my main focus and everything else can fit into the nooks and crannies around the fun.  Why not?  After all, I came to Oregon to heal my mind and body, and what better way than to live in joy?

I didn’t need to go any further in my layers today, even though I know there are many more amazing layers, because I found my answer.  I feel relieved and happy, looking forward to making art and balancing my life better.

This year I am thankful for . . .

So many thing I could list but for this year I am especially thankful for the release of my long held pain which I thank God for the help in healing, as well as all my wonderful friends and family for being so supportive through my long journey to recovery.  Life can throw us some pretty difficult lessons and I have always believed we could get through them with God’s help, but I wondered when it would happen for me.  I guess I was finally ready to let go of the pain, and I asked God to help me let go of it.  He did.

Though my rage has been uncovered and understood and finally embraced for it’s function, I now look upon it as an ally when I need protection.  I am thankful for everything along the path to this new understanding.  I am thankful for God helping me let go of my hurt and anger toward others who have hurt me in the past.  If I have hurt anyone in the past, I am truly sorry for causing you pain, and I ask your forgiveness.  Happy Thanksgiving everyone!