In Buddhist psychology we are taught that one of the two great sources of suffering is clinging. When we cling, we desire everything to go our way; we wish that whatever is enjoyable would continue forever. Here is an example, that in Mind Body Intelligence tm we call:“Birthday Cake Clinging”
I love birthday cake. It is part of a joyous celebration and I can give myself permission to indulge in something high in calories and fat, and very delicious. Just this once, you know...
My piece of cake is served to me and I feel happy, for a moment as I take my first bite. Now, the clinging begins. Looking around, I wonder: “Did I get the same size piece as other people? How come I didn’t get a rose? Ahh,I should have asked. Will there be any left, after everyone has their first piece? Could I have seconds? What will people think if I do?.....”
Yes, the cake might be very delicious, but I am not present to enjoy it. I have traveled into the past with regret: (“I should have asked for a rose.”; and into the future with worry (“What will people think if I ask for more?”).
What does mindful Birthday Cake enjoyment sound like?
First, I make the choice to be present in this moment.
“Breathing in I am excited to eat something delicious; breathing out I notice the deep brown color of the chocolate cake”.
“Breathing in I am aware of my concern about eating so many calories; Breathing out I acknowledge my concern and choose a portion mindfully”.
“Breathing in I smell the cake; Breathing out I notice the sweet taste of the smell on my tongue.”
“Breathing in I look deeply into the cake; Breathing out I am aware of the many ingredients that come together in its formation.”
“Breathing in I see the piece of cake on my fork; Breathing out I am grateful for the small miracle of its creation.”
“Breathing in I am aware of regret about not having more icing; Breathing out I acknowledge my regret and come back to focus on the delicious taste and texture of the icing already in my mouth.”
“Breathing in I notice I am eating quickly; Breathing out I choose to slow down and savor each morsel.”
Practicing in this way offers me the gorgeous opportunity to be present in my own life and to bring this wonderful confection into my body in a loving way. My body will have time to feel satisfied, and not need more. My mind will have fully entered into the experience and feel that the cycle of acquiring nutrition and ingesting it are complete; and my spirit will be happy as I have refrained from being self-critical, opening myself to true enjoyment and pleasure.
The Nature of Clinging
Clinging causes us suffering on two levels.
Residing on the first level is the belief that everything should go exactly as we would like.
If we are married to that expectation, we will surely be disappointed, for most of our waking hours (and probably in our dreams as well).
As a result, when the universe unfolds in unexpected or undesirable ways; we may find that we feel chronically unhappy, become controlling with others, or we are just miserable to be around.
On the second level; there is no way to make pleasant experiences (such as Birthday Cake) last forever. Directing our attention toward such a goal only drives us away from the moment. We miss the deep pleasure and fulfillment of the experience, and hurry down the road to find the next object or event that will give us a brief sense of happiness.
In your practice of mindfulness, you might benefit from noticing clinging, when you can. Noticing, offers you the opportunity to refrain from clinging and open to your own experience as it unfolds! A deeper sense of contentment and joy await you!
May this information benefit you, those you love, and all sentient beings, everywhere.
MBI tm Mindful Eating is an 8 week program of
the Sage Healing Institute.
For more information visit: www.sagehealinginstitute.com.
©All rights reserved Ellen M. Adelman PhD 12/2012.