Comfort eating and Awakening

Again and again I see myself trying to create peace and calm around me.  There is nothing wrong with this, in fact, it’s a natural and lovely desire.  But I see that any movement that is grasping towards peace is actually a movement away from it.  It’s a way to avoid what’s here.

We want control.  We want peace, safety, security, happiness.  We want things to be calm and wonderful. We want to feel good. But in our desire to create this, we often resist/reject what’s actually here – and then whatever we do to ‘feel better’ is never complete.

Miranda Macpherson says that anyone who claims that it is easy to be on a spiritual path clearly isn’t on one.  So true.  As we awaken more and more to the truth of what’s actually present in a moment, we are bound to encounter some extremely intense and painful emotions, and aspects of reality that we’ve spent our lives avoiding.

So if there is a ‘goal’ in all of this (I can imagine Gangaji raising her eyebrows at me as I use the word ‘goal’) it isn’t to create peace in our lives and in the lives of everyone around us.  It is to have the courage and willingness to open ourselves to meet whatever arises in life without resistance – with a degree of direct, unguarded openness.  If we can find the wisdom to simply see and accept what’s here without putting the overlay of our judgement and attempt to control things over top, the possibility of acting from a more conscious, wise and compassionate place opens up. So if that means heartbreak is present, we allow our hearts to be completely broken.  If deep joy is present, we open to it so deeply that we may fall on our knees and weep.

I see the ways I still resist what’s here.  It’s fascinating, heartbreaking, challenging and ultimately liberating.  I want to share the journey of my latest personal inquiry as I think it might touch and loosen something deep for many….

Last night I had a delicious piece of my Italian Auntie’s homemade lasagna.  It was a big piece and I’m just coming off a cleanse, so to have gluten and tomatoes and a glass of red wine was exquisite.  Once my plate was clean, I felt this familiar ‘wanting more’.  I checked in with my body and immediately realized it wasn’t physical hunger… just more of a desire to taste more, fill up the taste buds and belly with the comfort of rich flavour and heaviness.  I immediately felt this inner conflict of knowing I wasn’t hungry on one hand, but a part of my being was needing something deep in that comfort on the other… and then there was a sense of shame for not being able to just shut down and cut off that deep needing.

I had another slice – and it was delicious. I decided to enjoy it and not beat myself up for having it in the slightest – which I was able to do.  But I acknowledged the need to inquire into what this true hunger was – this deep need to be comforted and held by food.  Like many of us, I have a history of tangling food with self-love.  Food has been a form of deep comfort, solace and self-love for me since I was about 13 years old.  But now, as I am deepening my capacity to meet the truth of whatever is present, I realize that eating when I’m not hungry isn’t the wisest or most complete way to love myself.  I knew I had to meet that ‘needing’ directly.

So late last night I inquired… I brought myself back to the table, wanting that extra piece of lasagna.  I turned my attention to the part of me that had the energy of an obsessive wanting… an addictive energy – in my belly, my jaw and in my tightened brow… wanting wanting wanting. And again feeling the tension of the inner conflict of believing that I ‘shouldn’t want’. I opened to the feeling even deeper – what’s under this wanting? Immediately a raw sadness burst into my heart.  A deep curled up, lonely, shaking sadness. I didn’t feel the need to probe into why it was there or what it was about – I knew I just had to keep it company. As I opened to it fully – I sobbed as terror and despair unleashed fully.  As I did so, a palpable presence of compassion for it all – a wise and loving holding arose.  Once the rawness and intensity of this wave started to naturally subside, I just breathed, with my full attention on this vulnerable space that was opening in my heart.  I put my hand on my heart and asked what that space needed.  There was no concrete answer – but I could feel a huge love flowing from the warmth of my hand on my heart into the space that was raw, open, vulnerable and heartbroken…. that space – that one who was so lost in sadness started to calm and soften – until there was this sense of merging with total love.  No more giving love and receiving love.  Just a calm deep presence of stable and strong love.  I ended with a blessing to myself – ‘may I be willing to open to this heartbreak when it needs my attention, may I be at peace with myself, may I meet myself fully’.

I’ve inquired into my relationship with food before, but this time I touched the core of it consciously. It tore me apart – and then something deeper stood back up. I feel so humbled, relaxed and deeply grateful for what this relationship with food has led me to.  There is still something that feels a bit vulnerable and open around it all, but much stronger than that is a deep deep release and peace.

My goodness…. I hope this helps you my friends of heart….  I have deep empathy for that almost intolerable pain that is underneath the need to eat for comfort.  But this is one of the ways in… I wish you courage and the deepest and steadiest self-compassion as you inquire.  I am sending out my blessing to you now…. May we all find peace with our bodies, our emotions and food.  May we all love ourselves with the deepest wisdom and compassion.

Love always,



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