When I worked a 9 to 5, many things in my life were quite regulated. Up at 5. Morning coffee. Yoga at 6:30. Work at 8:30 (okay, 9:00). Home by six. Cook dinner.
Read Play on my computer. Sleep and repeat.
The monotony and soul-suckage made me miserable, but part of me liked this. I like little daily rituals, little habits and times of day that are all my own, the way that routine can keep me from overanalyzing every plan, every meal, every extra minute I allow myself to sleep.
Upon my arrival in Mysore, I figured my nice little orderly life might stay nice and orderly. But what I’ve found that I love most about our life here in Mysore is the spontaneity, the ability to just relax, to listen to my body and to go where my day takes me.
When I started to pay attention to my health, I became more conscious of what — and how — I ate. And I kept reading about the concept of intuitive eating, which goes a little something like this: Eat when you’re hungry. Stop eating when you’re full. Eat what your body craves. ROCKET SCIENCE.
For the past two years, this has seemed impossible to me. I overanalyze and worry and question things constantly, so how am I really supposed to listen to my body? Am I hungry right now? How hungry is hungry? How full is full? Do I want a salad or fries? WHAT? HELP. Yes, I recognize that this is a total white girl problem. But it consumed my life just a teeny bit: I shouldn’t eat too fast so therefore I should eat AS SLOWLY AS POSSIBLE. I should spend all of my idle time sitting at my desk questioning whether or not it’s time for lunch. And so on. After battling disordered eating in various forms for so many years, the connection between what my body wanted and what my brain heard had become fuzzy.
But in the past month — in the past week, really — I have started to listen. To really listen. To talk to my body like it’s a friend. Like it’s somebody I love. Thanking it. Respecting it. And, when I feel hungry, asking it what it wants. And listening.
I think that one of the ways that time in Mysore has allowed me to do this is the spontaneity of it all. Want a coconut on the side of the road? Go for it. Want street food? You got it. Want a dosa? You can go eat one out of the back of a van. Want to take a two hour nap? Nobody is stopping you. The practice of Ashtanga yoga makes everything going on in your body very clear, very obvious. The lack of distractions while practicing mean that it’s just you, and your body, and your mind. Sometimes it’s peaceful. Sometimes it’s hell. But it’s always a learning experience.
We all have our own ways of being at peace with our bodies and coming to terms with our relationship with food. Everybody is different. But for me, here, now, the lack of planning has been lovely. Being aware of what’s going on with my body, starting with two hours of yoga every morning, has been huge. Finally — after years of not knowing how to listen — I can finally hear my body’s messages. And when I act accordingly, I feel happy, and strong, and satisfied.
All we have to do is to trust ourselves. If we listen carefully enough, we’ll get an answer.