“Thoughts are like airplanes flying in the air. If you ignore them, there is no problem. If you pay attention to them, you create an airport inside your head and permit them to land!” (Elder Paisius)
When I was deep in the days of my food addiction, thoughts around food and body image probably filled 90 percent of my thinking. I was either thinking about how I could lose weight or stay thin by not eating, thinking about preparing and eating my next snack or meal, or worrying about the food that might spoil in the fridge!
I was a mess.
I thought there was something wrong with me. Why would my brain not shut off? Sometimes I would eat just to get the thought of food out of my head. I didn’t have the skills to know how to deal with it. I didn’t know who to talk to because I thought I was the only one with this problem.
This just wasn’t true.
Everyone struggles with their thought life. It’s part of being human. Controlling or not controlling our thoughts is part of what makes us, or breaks us.
I recently read a book, Christ the Eternal Tao, by Hieromonk Damascene. It was about watchfulness and controlling your thoughts. I loved the description of how a thought turns into a passion, and then an action.
“In objectively observing thoughts, we will be able to cut them off before they develop into passions. In the Philokalia, the growth from a thought into a passion is described with scientific precision. First comes the provocation of the thought, then the conjunction of the thought with emotion or resentment, then the joining or agreement of the will with the thought. If the soul does not pull back at this point, the thought becomes a habit and the mind is constantly preoccupied with the object of the passionate urge. Finally the person falls into the captivity of the urge, and rushes gladly and violently to satisfy it.”
My mistake was in listening to those crazy thoughts in the first place.
I didn’t have to attach myself to the thoughts and act on every thought that popped into my head!
When the idea of binging on those sugary sweets popped into my head, I didn’t have to listen, and I don’t listen now. When the voices in my head told me that there was something wrong with my body, I needed to ignore them. I have learned that when I ignore these thoughts, they eventually go away. That is so powerful!
There were so many good quotes around this topic in the above mentioned book. I am leaving them with you now to think about and see if any of them resonate with you.
“Rule: Cut off thoughts and you will cut off everything.”
“In observing thoughts, we should not focus on them, but rather defocus from them. We should not try to analyze them, for analysis involves us in the very thing from which we are seeking to separate ourselves.”
“Continuing this practice of going within and standing apart from thoughts, we will continue to shed layers of conditioning together with our compulsive thought patterns.”
“Struggle against thoughts is vain and futile. It is enough simply to observe the thoughts as they arise, then let them go without reacting to them or following them.”
“A thought cannot exist for long under the light of direct, objective observation. If we do not align our will with it, it naturally disappears. If we do not do anything about thoughts, in time they are spoiled, that is to say, they disintegrate.”
“If a thought comes, do not be alarmed… The bad thing is not that a thief enters the house, but that he takes what he finds in the house.”
The thoughts, like airplanes, will keep circling, just don’t let them land!
What unwanted planes are you allowing to land in your airport? How are they affecting your relationship with food and how will not listening to them help you? I’d love to hear from you. Please comment below.