Yes, this little digression circles back to sugar. Please bear with me…
When I first started taking meditation classes, I had a teacher who was very adamant on students remaining absolutely still. No scratching itches, no shifting the body or rubbing your nose. Of course the moment I sat down, every part of my body itched and screamed for a scratch. It was torture. I dreaded the hours leading up to that class and silently prayed for time to fly while I was in it. I decided I stunk at meditation and quit coming.
A couple of years later, I decided to try again, but this time in a self-led format. When I had an itch, I scratched the sucker. When I wanted to shift my weight or rub my nose, I shifted and rubbed. And holy cow, success! Immediately indulging my every discomfort, I had the ability to sit relatively still for long periods of time. I got to the point where I could sit comfortably in meditation for up to 40 minutes. Why sit in hell and be distracted? My thought was that if I address the itch, then my mind could get on to the real work. Right? So I sat and I sat and I sat for months. I looked like a real yogi. A bona fide meditator. But I felt like a fraud. So I quit.
Two more years went by. I decided to give guided meditation another try, with a different instructor. This teacher didn’t mandate bodily stillness, but gently suggested that if we felt an itch, rather than immediately reacting to it and scratching…that we simply take one slow deep breath and if the itch is still there after the breath, then by all means have at it. And you know what happened? Do you know what happened?? Ninety percent of the time, the itch and the urge to scratch faded away in the course of one breath, a momentary pause. This tiny discomfort ended up being one of the most enlightening things in my life. My itch wasn’t a distraction…it was my teacher.
So how does this relate to Week 2 of No Sugar March? Monday was my birthday. When I woke up, I could already hear the whispers in my head…”but it’s your birthday. You shouldn’t deny yourself on your birthday. What difference will one day make? One piece of cake or one cookie or one crème brulee from Sardine.” By noon, some very stressful events had unfolded and the whispers turned into a roar…loud and insistent, begging me to make myself comfortable with a sugar fix. Begging me to scratch that itch.
By 5pm I was almost a gonner. I was one raise-of-my-right-hand-to-flag-the-waiter-at- Sardine away from caving. But here’s where the years of my start/stop/start attempts on the cushion kicked in. Now, instinctively, I took a breath, a pause. And the moment passed. The intensity passed. The need for immediate indulgence and gratification passed. I walked out of Sardine that night, my birthday night, not feeling deprived, but filled up. My heart quiet and yet ready to explode with big love and light and gratitude as I stepped into the next year of my life on earth.
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