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Practicing: Effortlessness

Posted Mar 13 2012 10:19am

That which comes easily to you is valuable to others.

This is something I learned when I became a freelance writer. It shocked me that people wanted to pay me to do something that came so easily.

Most of the time, that is. Sometimes it doesn’t, and so I don’t force myself and I don’t write out of desperation. It’s one of those things that doesn’t end well if forced or desperate.

This is what I strive for in my relationship with food and my body: the ability to make the right choices easily and automatically without it feeling forced, desperate, or like a burden. Because when it feels forced, desperate, or like a burden, it usually doesn’t end well.

I find that the more I focus on good health as my outcome, instead of how much I weigh or how I look, the easier it becomes.

I also believe that ANYONE who abuses her body, overeats, binges, and/or feels out of control around food, or considers herself an “addict” can have a normal relationship with food and her body, and that it can come easily. Eventually.

And yes, there is a contradiction:

“It takes great effort to become effortless at anything. Change takes time, attention, love. Can you give yourself that much, over and over, again and again, for as long as it takes?” ~ Geneen Roth

And this is why I pay so much attention to the words I use…and why I make it a point to choose that for which I am willing to strive (versus struggle).

And this is why there is no short cut or fast track. Improved health and permanent weight loss comes through acceptance, relaxation, and the ability to embrace yourself in the moment. It’s why I don’t write “how to” posts. I can’t tell you how, but I can practice in front of you. That’s what I try and do here.

It reminds me of a great post by Susan Piver entitled Relaxation, Meditation & The Self-Help Demon

In it she says:

Somehow, we have convinced ourselves that we are so broken that a full-on 24/7 surge of endless, repetitive, and unflagging attention to our failings–or, if not our failings, to our “opportunities”– is called for.

What I would like to tell you, what I would like to tell myself, is something my friend Patti Digh  says: you are not broken and you do not need to be fixed [how many times have I said THAT?!].

However, it turns out that this is a thousand times more threatening than the notion of having flaws that could, with enough attention, willpower, and courage, be abolished. My friends, this is a setup. Here is how I know that. Whenever I have been diligent/lucky enough to actually achieve something, be it the publication of a book, a repaired friendship, or the eradication of gluten, as I sense that my accomplishment nears, all pleasure diminishes. It wasn’t enough. I could have done it better, faster, cheaper. By the time I cross the finish line, it is already a non-event and I’ve moved on to tormenting myself about the next unmet aspiration or fatal flaw.

Exactly. I find it fascinating that there are some who would rather believe in struggle than in relaxation.

I think Susan would agree with me that improved health and permanent weight loss, much like meditation, can’t be taught in “five easy steps” or in “three minutes a day.”

But I believe that over time, it can become effortless. All we need to do is shine a light on it .

“Evil is like a shadow – it has no real substance of its own, it is simply a lack of light. You cannot cause a shadow to disappear by trying to fight it, stamp on it, by railing against it, or any other form of emotional or physical resistance. In order to cause a shadow to disappear, you must shine light on it.” ~ Shakti Gawain

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