Nourish Your Heart First
has a Ph.D. in psychology and is the author of The Zen of Eating:
Ancient Answers to Modern Weight Problems. It is a book she wrote
after spending nine years working with Weight Watchers and in reaction
to her immersion into the principles of Buddhism after the deaths of
several family members and a close friend.
her book, Kabatznick suggests that many of us have come to perceive
and use food as a form of nourishment way beyond our need for it as
our body's source of fuel and energy. She makes the point that we use
it and even abuse it as an attempt to satisfy or nourish emotional hungers.
Body & Soul caught up with
her at the Spirit Rock Meditation Center in California's Marin County.
common to turn to food to try to bring in that feeling of fullness that
we want so badly. But the paradox of trying to eat to fill that gnawing
dissatisfaction is that you only get hungrier and hungrier. And so we
look for that fullness everywhere, but actually we find it nowhere.
what we do, no matter how many times we grasp, and no matter how much
we eat, we cannot hold on to feelings of fullness, we cannot hold on
to feelings of pleasure because they are part of nature and they rise
and pass away. The Buddha said, rather than struggle with that feeling
of hunger and trying to make it go away, or rather than struggling with
that feeling of fullness and trying to keep it, why don't we try to
rest in whatever the current experience is. The nourishment is in that
resting itself. The hunger doesn't so much come from the physical feeling
of hunger; it comes from the emotional struggle with wishing it wasn't
"I work with
many people who hate their bodies. And I've certainly gone through those
kind of struggles myself. Where there's tremendous non-acceptance. Mindfulness
is really a practice of generosity. It's really a practice of giving.
It's really a practice of allowing the suffering, allowing the hunger,
allowing the fullness to be there with your kind attention, to your
kind awareness, without interfering and without interrupting the cycle--the
natural cycle of arising and passing away.
"Once you establish
an identity of I want to be a thin person, or I want to be a size eight,
then you have to run your life around supporting this identity. And
there's tremendous suffering in that because it closes down your options.
It just puts you on this one kind of narrow road that says I've got
to weigh a certain amount, and I've got to look a certain way. And yet,
it doesn't keep you open to the truth of change. If you grasp on to
this identity as who you are, it's a total setup for suffering. Because
whatever you identify with, it's bound to change. That's the natural
cycle of life.
"In fact, what
you eat, or what you don't eat is not what counts. The key to healthy
eating is learning how to change your state of mind. That's why it's
important to look within. That's what mindfulness is. That invitation
to feel full is always open to you. Food for the heart provides the
only kind of nourishment that lasts. So make the commitment to practice
mindfulness every day. Learn to let things be."
The Zen of Eating
The Problem Isn't Food
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