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Losing Weight

by Eillen Sellam

With special thanks to David Gorman for his help in editing this article, particularly for the parts he helped write in the section about the session we had together.

I wish to write this "witness paper" to share my adventure with others, putting down step-by-step the process that I went through to lose some weight. People who know me might be surprised about my choice of wanting to lose some weight since I was not fat or even particularly over-weight. However, I had wanted for a while to lose 2 or 3 kilos and to maintain this weight afterwards, but so far I had not succeeded.

I had already noticed that sometimes I was eating too much relative to what I need and would end up feeling too full and not at ease. I didn't like that feeling and each time I felt it I would think about not eating as much next time, but then, later, I would find myself feeling it again. In those moments, I was doing something that I didn't want to do and this made me wonder: if eating less is better for me, why I have not been able to follow it?

Since I am a LearningMethods teacher and my work is teaching others how to discover what is happening to them and understand why they are trapped in unconstructive behaviour, I decided to look closely at my own unconstructive behaviour and why I had this dependency.

Once I made the decision I was certainly curious to find what would come out of this exploration!

Even though I only wanted to lose a small amount of weight, all my teaching experience shows that for people who have bigger problems with weight and over-eating it is still fundamentally the same issue and that the same basic process can be followed.

What alerted me!

This winter, I had the opportunity to have many of my meals on my own as my partner, David Gorman, was away teaching for almost a month. In a natural way without doing anything particular I found that my meals were smaller, but I was not hungry afterwards and I felt much better.

When I noticed this and compared it to what was happening when my partner was here, I saw that I was eating more when he was around. Having our meals together with lots of interaction between us meant that we spent more time at the table. Since we were talking while eating and between dishes, the meal took much longer. And I was paying more attention to the conversation than to how much I was eating. So in a way, it made sense to me that I would eat more in this kind of situation.

No problem so far. In fact when I thought about it, I realized that there was the same difference when I eat with any other people, not just David. And considering where I live in the heart of the beautiful south of France, we have lots of people coming for personal visits or here for workshops. They are often staying at our house for a week or more so we have lots of meals together.

As I looked closely at it, I don't think I would be exaggerating in saying that I often eat almost double the amount of food when I am in a group of people than when I am on my own! I could feel that over the last year I had already gained more weight than I wanted, and I could see that, with time, this over-eating tendency while having dinner with others would become, along with me, much bigger!

But I didn't want that to happen. By the spring I was clear that I didn't want to be trapped in this same mechanism by the time summer came. I was determined to take advantage of the coming months to see what was happening to me in those situations and exactly how I ended up eating too much.

So I began by making an exploration, one of the first and most basic tools of the LearningMethods approach, and one that is useful for almost any issue. In this case it was an exploration to gather all the information that exists in the experiences I already had and was continuing to have so that I could find out exactly what was happening.

I knew there was something that I was missing in my experiences, since I wanted to lose weight yet I was still somehow overeating. I just didn't know precisely how I was managing to keep on doing what I didn't want to do.

That's the job of this kind of exploration: to track down that moment (or moments) of non-clarity, where what causes the problem is actually happening but, for whatever reason, we are not registering the importance or relevance of it at that time. So this exploration was a way for me to get all the information about what was going on out on the table where I could see it clearly.

When we explore this way, we are in effect asking ourselves the question: "Is the information I need to understand my problem already there within me?"

There are two ways we can look for this information. One is in our recollection of those past times in which the problem has already happened to us. This is often very effective since these times impress themselves on our memory, especially when we are recalling recent ones which are fresh and full of details.

The other way to explore is to be able to wake up in any present moment when the 'problem' is actually happening, and to catch all the aspects of what is occurring in that moment.

This may sound like a simple thing to do, but I am continually surprised by how much comes up for me when I explore this way and how much more clearly than normal it appears when I actually allow myself to stop and observe. It is often surprising for the people I am helping too, as they are not used to taking the time to really see what is happening. Instead, they have often been busy trying to do something to change what is happening as quickly as possible.

Taking time to really find out what is happening before jumping to how to change it is an essential but often neglected step. Developing your exploring capacities is like becoming your own detective. It is probably the biggest key to changing — a key to unlocking a room full of treasures. After all, how can we successfully change the problem if we haven't really found out precisely what the problem is? Without knowing that, we'll only end up trying to change the symptoms.

By the way, when exploring, it is also important that you are accurate about how you actually experienced the events in the moment when they happened, and that you are not using an interpretation of the events you added in later when you look back on the events. However interesting these interpretations may be, there is little practical value in trying to use an 'interpretation' of what happened if it is not the way things really were for you at the moment of the problem.

So, I decided that my own exploration would be to take the time to think about my attitude towards eating and to observe closely what was happening in the actual moments at dinner. I took every opportunity to really look at what was happening as soon as I could feel that I was eating too much so that I could find all the ways that I was trapped in this circle.

Sometimes, I was able to wake up enough to observe what happened right at the very moments of eating, and other times, I was only able to recognise what happened by looking back after dinner, a few hours later, or the next morning.

So this process of observation happened in many different moments: sometimes just through thinking about my attitude and catching the ideas I have about food and hospitality; at other times when I was recalling situations that had happened recently; and sometimes in the actual moment by using the feeling of being uncomfortable from overeating as a wake-up call to observe and take in what had just happened. Each of these avenues gave me information and was effective in helping me discover more about my thoughts, my behaviour, and my habits towards food.

Needless to say, it was a very personal exploration, but a very necessary one, as you will see. Any of you who are following this with a view to how it might help your own situation, will also need to make a similar kind of exploration for yourselves to find your own particular and personal content.

One of the first things I noticed, just by focusing on my memory of different situations, was that I didn't have the same difficulty when I was invited to someone else's house. My eating-too-much problem only happened in my own house when I was not alone at the meal, and especially when we had guests. That is, I realised that this losing weight issue was connected to my relationship with others.

This first clue helped localise the problem as to when and where it happened. So I decided to look at what was happening to me during the time guests were staying with me. What were my experiences, my thoughts, my actions, and everything that goes on in my mind during these times? Here was my first concrete present moment exploration.

What quickly became clear was that when family or friends are visiting, or when we have students here during a workshop, I am preoccupied by what we are going to eat. Actually, it was not exactly what are "we going to eat", but what am "I going to make for the others". On looking a bit more closely, I realised that, in fact, I am not included in this "we". It is more accurate to say what are "they" going to eat? What am I going to make for "them"?

I saw that I was worrying, asking myself questions like, "Will they have enough to eat?" And also that I spent quite a bit of time thinking of the composition of the meals. "Will they like this or will they like that?"

I saw that when I was in the middle of that worrying, I was not using my own criteria about what I like and how much is enough for me. Instead, I was imagining what and how much the others would like. I was trying to use what I imagined was their criteria of taste, quantity, etc.! I realised that what I was imagining would work for them, was not what I would have chosen for myself, and so I was forced by my own idea of what would be OK for the others to make food choices that were not suitable for me!

It was encouraging to me to see that I had put my finger on several important points.

First, I could see clearly that it was a total illusion to believe that I could know the eating criteria of other people, especially when I hadn't even spoken to them.

Second, it showed me that the issue was not really about my relationship to others. It was about my own ideas of relationship. That is, nobody else forced me to buy or to eat things that don't suit me. Nobody but me! Eillen against Eillen because of my imagined ideas about what others would be pleased by. By wanting to please them I was not pleasing myself, even though I was the only one with the real power to choose for myself.

I was beginning to see why I was not able to make the changes that I wanted to make of eating less, especially in company. Who else but me can know and choose what I want? But instead, here I was attempting to evaluate and judge what others would want. Now I can see that the others (my partner or our guests) are the only ones who know what works for them and that they can choose to get more food if they discover that they need more. And, I am the only one who can use my own criteria to know what I want or need for myself.

I decided to change so that even though my friends are invited as guests to my house, the meals will now be more organised around my taste and in a quantity that works for me!

The results of my exploration had now provided enough insight to give me the opportunity to take the second step, which is to make an experiment.

There was enough information out on the table to see what was happening and why I was over-eating. My exploration showed me that if I think the same thoughts and act the same way, the same problem would continue to repeat itself. But the exploring also gave me a new understanding of the problem, so it was now possible for me to see where I could make a change from my usual way of going about things.

Putting this change into action is the experiment and it has the purpose of showing us if this change really solves the problem.

To make such an experiment one needs to know not only what to change, but also when to change and precisely how to change. And, of course, the when to change is right at the moment when the problem arises — the moment when I think my thoughts and then go ahead and eat more. This is when I need to use my new knowledge to bring some consciousness and choice at the very moment when the problem arises.

In other words, I need what we call in this approach an 'alarm' or a wake-up call in order to be present enough to remember that this is now the time to make my new experiment.

The exploration had shown me that what got me making too much food or food that didn't suit me was my thinking thoughts such as, "They are going to like that", or "It will not be enough for them", etc. So those thoughts could be my wake-up call, if I could catch them.

But I not only needed an alarm to wake me up. To succeed at making that experiment, I also needed to be clear about what the experiment was that I was going to do at that moment. I was clear about it now, but would I still be clear about it in the moment that counted? And then, of course, I actually needed to see if it really was possible to carry out such an experiment in a real-life moment in the face of habit, social interactions, and everything else going on. These are the elements of an experiment: to wake up enough to do it, to remember what it is you wanted to do and to actually carry it out. Then (and only then) is it possible to see what the results of the experiment might be.

My specific experiment was this: in those moments when I would be alerted by my familiar types of thoughts, I would then use my own criteria of what works for me to make different choices than I was used to. I would then find out if doing things this way would really work better for me.

Here are three examples of what happened when I was able to make this experiment to wake up and then choose to come back and follow my own needs.

A friend of mine came for a visit for a week. We were shopping together at the wonderful local butcher shop. I caught myself saying to myself (in my head without speaking to my friend), "Here are some cold meats that will be interesting for her". And a moment later, "Oh, there are some nice local Provençal products that she would certainly like!" If I had not been aware of these thoughts in my new way I would certainly have gone ahead and bought four or five things that I would not have chosen to buy on my own. And all of that without exchanging a word with her!

Instead, I was able to recognise those kind of thoughts right there in the store, and remembered my experiment. I was able to look clearly at my own criteria and knew that I did not want to buy those products. So I chose to stay with the choices that worked for me.

It was interesting to me that I found myself quite at ease with this choice, almost a relief. But then I realised that it was the choice of following what was good for me and not what I imagined was going to be good for someone else. Of course it would be easy and would fit me well!

At the same time, I realised that my friend was here with me and could buy anything that she wanted. She is an adult, after all, and can choose for herself what she wants. It seems so obvious to me now. But I could also see that it didn't seem obvious at all to me before!

Then, I felt like sharing with her what had just happened for me (this friend has also had some LearningMethods classes). She said that she too wanted to eat lightly without indulging in a lot of the rich cold meats and local specialities.

Here was the direct proof for me that what I imagined would please her wasn't at all true!

Another time, some friends who have young children were coming to visit for a few days. I started to think of the composition of the meals we might have so that I could make a shopping list. Here again, I caught myself starting to think, "Dessert and pastries are going to please the kids, and so I'll get that and that, etc." This list was on its way to being totally filled with what I imagined was going to be good for the others. When I woke up to this, I was able to come back to my choices, saying to myself that when the kids are here, they can also say what they feel like eating. In fact, when they arrived, their mother told me that she didn't want them eating pastries for dessert, but that they could have yoghurt and fruits. And as it turned out, the kids didn't even ask for cakes anyway.

Yet another time when some other friends were here, I became aware of similar thoughts: "Tonight I am going to make a chocolate mousse". But what I was really thinking when I looked more closely was that I would make it for "them". It would, in fact, have pleased me to make a dessert for them, but I realised that if I made it I was going to eat some of it too and therefore wouldn't lose weight. So I decided to not make any dessert that evening and everyone seemed quite happy. During the meal, I also noticed that I was drinking more wine than usual in a way that I can do when I am with friends, so I chose to drink less — a glass or two and that's all.

In the course of making these experiments, I could definitely tell that I felt much better each time I chose what worked for me. In addition, I discovered that when I was preoccupied with what others were going to eat and what they liked, I created a lot of extra work for myself by composing the meals, making shopping lists, and then doing all the cooking. Dinner, and everything around it, took me a lot of time. Too much time, in fact.

Previously, I had 'wanted' to do a good job as a hostess and provide well for my guests, but I became unsatisfied with being so busy with all those things. I was getting more and more dissatisfied as I saw that doing all that work meant that I didn't have enough time for my own activities and my work.

Being frustrated by not achieving what I wanted to do during the day put me in a vicious circle. The more I spent time doing what I didn't want to do, the less I had the time to do what I want. The less I did what I want the more I was unsatisfied and lost contact with what was important for me and what I really want to do. After a few days in such a circle, I would end up feeling more and more deeply dissatisfied. I was seeing that this dissatisfied state was a major issue and was much more the problem than the extra 3 kilos, though the two were certainly connected, since I ate more when I was in that dissatisfied state — another part of the vicious circle.

Through making these kinds of experiments over a period of a month or two, not only was I able to change so that I could eat what I wanted in the quantity I wanted, but I also became more clear about my priorities. I had more time to do what was important to me during the day and was able to do what I wanted even with guests around.

All in all, I ended up with more satisfaction in more areas than I was expecting: the physical area (losing weight and feeling lighter), the mental area (understanding and learning) and the daily practical area (getting more things done).

This whole process constituted my main 'victory' in knowing what I want and following what works for me.

But this wasn't all. In a very practical way, my explorations and experiments revealed to me many more of my ideas which helped keep me locked in the vicious circle.

One of these was my tendency to say to myself: "Oh just a tiny piece of bread more; a little more of that won't be too much!" And, of course, each little bit wasn't too much. But when I looked at how often I did this, I could see clearly that this tendency of 'just' adding a little bit again and again led straight to the 'too much'. When I was able to recognise this idea in the moment, I was able to stop adding those 'tiny bits'!

Another similar one also happened at the table when I would say to myself, "Ah, that was good, so maybe I'll just have a little bit more." I was using the criteria of how good it tasted to have second helpings, rather than my own awareness of when I was full. On catching this one I could also choose not to add things to my plate when I had already eaten enough.

By the way, I don't want you to get the impression that these noticings and changes each happened the first time. It can take quite a number of times to notice a pattern and recognize it and understand what is happening. And even when I knew what I wanted to change, there were times I completely missed it and only realized afterwards that I had gone and done it again. But just by being curious and wanting to find all the ways that I was drawn into my vicious circle, I eventually spied them one after the other as they popped up. Though what I am describing took place over the period of several months, considering how long I had been trapped in these habits, I thought it all happened quite fast.

I noticed too how often I would finish up the food on my plate or the leftovers in the serving dish itself even if I was no longer hungry, simply because of the thought of not wanting to waste this good food. It made sense at the time, but now I could clearly see I was putting too much on my waist for the sake of not wasting food by throwing it out. Now, when I wake up to these thoughts, I am able to stop when I have had enough and to not care about throwing things away.

At other moments I would find myself thinking, "Anyway, I am not fat, I'm really OK as I am", or, "I have a little bit of extra weight but it's not much and it's not really that important". Those ideas came in the moments when I wanted to convince myself that it was OK to eat more, so that I could have more without feeling guilty!

Each time I succeeded even for a few days with these sorts of choosing, I would find myself not only feeling lighter but also actually losing weight according to the scales, which was encouraging. I still needed to keep on make the choices, but the moments of choice were beginning to appear more and more clearly to me so I was more and more easily able to follow what I want and eat less.

I could see that each time I got sucked in by any of these traps, I did consume that extra quantity of food! Where I was in my awareness determined what happened. But the times when I was aware enough to see that I wanted some more and was about to eat more, I could choose not to do so — a choice not to respond to the desire. This brought a lovely feeling of freedom — the freedom to choose what I want for me. And a sense of strength too — the strength to do what I wanted instead of what I didn't want.

With these new experiences, I began to be able to sense the difference more clearly of when I was starting to be driven by the old strained thoughts of what I should do and the old narrowed feelings of yielding. Very different compared to the spaciousness and presentness of this new freedom.

At this point, I took a class with David in order to go over what I had learned and to see if there were ways to go more deeply into the process. During this class, he led me systematically over each step in the cycle of the vicious circle.

This helped me greatly as it clarified something central about the dilemma of wanting to lose weight but then still eating too much. What I saw was that I had the strong and sincere desire of wanting to lose weight at one moment in the circle (usually when I my clothes were too tight or when I felt too full), but that these moments of clear intention occupied a very different part of the circle than the moments when I actually ate more food.

The class helped me see that those moments when I really did want to lose weight were also the moments when I had actual experiential reasons for doing so:
   – the real sensations of feeling full and uncomfortable after a meal,
   – or sleeping poorly at night and a feeling of heaviness on waking up,
   – or seeing myself in the mirror or feeling my clothes tight on me,
   – having the dial on the bathroom scales go way too high,
   – too much time spent in preparing and cooking food,
   – an over-investment in and worrying about what we are going to eat,
   – not getting my own work done as I 'take care' of others,
and the rising dissatisfaction because of all these elements together.

I was justified in those moments in wanting to lose weight because I was experiencing in an unavoidable way the real consequences of my eating too much.

But when we looked closely at what happened as I approached those other moments when I was about to eat more than I needed, it was clear that I had no actual experience of those consequences then. In fact, I wasn't even aware of those consequences at those moments. However, I did have some actual experiences at those moments. And what I had was a direct experience of the food and how tasty it was and the desire for more of that sensation. Or what I did have was not the thoughts of losing weight, but instead the thoughts of how much the others will like this dessert I was making.

That is, my ideas and experiences in the moments when I wanted to lose weight were very different than the ideas and experiences I had in the other moment when I wanted to eat more. I could see that I was living two very different moments. And what was really important was that these two different moments had completely opposite goals.

In the one moment when I experienced the consequences of my eating, I certainly did want to lose weight and was determined to do so, but later, in those next moments when there was a meal in front of me, I really did want to eat the food. And in those moments of wanting to eat, since I was not actually experiencing the consequences at those moments but I was faced with the real experience of the food, it was no contest and the eating won each time. No wonder I had not managed to change this habit before!

But the main thing I took from the lesson was that the problem really lay in the fact that these two moments were separated in time. No matter how much I wanted to lose weight when faced with the consequences, it would not do me any good at all if those moments stayed separate from the eating moments.

The moment of the eating is the moment that counts, since that is the moment that puts on the weight. That is the moment when I need to have the consequences real enough to match the attractive sensation of wanting to eat more. And in my vicious circle that was the very moment when I was least aware of the consequences and most dominated by the sensation of wanting to eat more tasty food. It was a shock to see how much I was a slave to my sensations!

This is the common element in these kinds of 'dependency issues' like over-eating, smoking, drinking too much, etc. We are confronted with the bad consequences and we do sincerely want to stop, but only at the times when we really experience those consequences. Later on, we are faced with different moments when our awareness of the consequences has evaporated, or at least that awareness has been demoted from a real feeling and is now only 'an idea'.

Instead, at those moments we are faced with the desire to do what we didn't want to do and so we do it. In this way we are pulled back and forth by our desires and end up feeling guilty that we failed at our resolutions. Sometimes sheer will power does work for people, but not very often because applying your will against your desire means you have got into a fight with yourself — a fight most people don't win. I had tried that and it didn't feel very good.

On the other hand, the experiments I described above not only worked and gave me a feeling of freedom, but they were not about me winning a struggle. They were about me seeing things more clearly and being able to make an actual choice, which was easy to make in the moment because I saw more clearly what I wanted and what I didn't want, and so could choose what I wanted and what worked for me.

As I went through the circle in my session with David, he helped me reframe the whole situation in terms of choice. Making a choice is like having an old-fashioned balance scale with two pans hanging, balanced from the ends of a suspended crossbeam. The choice gets made in favour of whatever pan has the most 'desirable' things in it and therefore tilts lower than the other one.

I was also making a choice, in a sense, in my over-eating habit. At the moments of feeling the consequences I was choosing to lose weight. The problem was just that in the moments of eating, I was choosing differently when faced with the attractive sensations.

In my old way of thinking, I was weighing up the choice at the moment of eating by putting the wonderful taste experience of the food I was about to eat in one pan and in the other pan all I had was the empty nothing of not having that wonderful taste. Faced with this kind of 'choice' it was easy to see why I would 'choose' the actual taste of the food over the nothing of not having it.

But as David pointed out, this is not really a fair balancing. It is not an accurate perception of what is really in the two pans. The point of view I had was a very narrowed one limited only to the sensations of that moment. That is why I was a slave to the sensations.

In that wake-up moment of eating what was really in the one pan was not only the wonderful taste of the food I was about to eat. There were also all those consequences: feeling full, gaining weight, tight clothes, time spent cooking, not getting my work done, dissatisfaction, etc. So this heavy load of bad consequences was all undeniably there in the same pan with the wonderful taste, since they all followed inevitably from eating that taste.

This, of course, made that pan a lot different than it had been before when it only contained the wonderful taste.

What really changed it was when I saw clearly what was in the other pan. Here there still the 'not having the wonderful taste' in the moment. But now there was also my great new feeling of being light and free, my clothes fitting and nicely loose, my weight down to where I wanted, more time for my work, satisfaction, etc.

It wasn't hard to see which one of these I now wanted to choose! There was no question of there being any fight with myself in this choice.

All I needed was to bring that clearer perception of the 'real' and accurate choice into the moments that I had been meeting before from such a narrowed and sense-dominated place. To do this I needed to wake myself up enough at the moments of eating (or starting to prepare and cook too much) and be able to bring those consequences right into the moments to weigh them against the urge to eat.

In a sense it was my same experiment as before but now I had the extra ammunition of being clearer why I wanted to make this experiment in the face of the attractive sensations of socialising and eating.

The experiment consisted of catching the moments when I wanted to eat more (easy to catch now!) and instead, to bring into the pan all the list of actual real-life consequences of what eating more means. In another words, bringing all the reasons why I want to lose weight into the very moment when I am about to eat more.

As I began this next experiment, I could see that I had already been doing this a little bit for years. Sometimes, at those moments when I wanted to eat more, I would 'wake up' and I'd be aware of one of the reasons why I shouldn't eat more. But that did not appear to be enough to stop me. And now I saw why. As soon as one of these reasons came in, I also came up with equally good reasons to convince myself it was OK to go ahead. Reasons like, "It's just a little bit and won't make me fat", "I'll just finish this so it won't go to waste", and so on.

So I knew all those consequences before, but only in a separate one-at-a-time way. So each time just using one reason wasn't enough in the pan of the balance scale to outweigh the desire of more taste.

But now, as I was able to bring all the consequences into the pan when I wanted to eat more, it was really enough to match the desire of eating more, and the choice now tilted in a radical way. In effect I didn't really need to choose, since I already perceived the situation so differently than I used to. From this new perception, it was obvious what I wanted to do therefore not much of a choice needed to be made.

The more I made the experiment, the more effective it became and the more I could see all the ideas and reactions to food that had kept me stuck in the circle. This is one of the prime benefits of learning the process of exploring and experimenting. As you learn, you get better and better at it and the process continues and reveals new aspects again and again.

As I continued this process I found that sometimes I would eat something without being hungry at all. I caught my idea that if I don't eat now when I have time, then later I will be hungry and won't have a chance to eat. I realised that in those moments, I was afraid of the future moments when "I might be hungry", "I might not feel well", etc. When I could see the idea so clearly and when I looked to my own past experiences, I also realised that this had not actually ever really happened to me. In other words, because of possible frightening future moments that only might happen, I was choosing something for myself that made no sense in the present and yet ended up really happening!

When I saw that this thinking made no sense at all and was driven by a fear that has no real base, I was able to choose to eat when I actually felt hungry, and to have with me a small bit of some food to eat if I was in a situation where there was no food around for few hours. Interestingly, I haven't often needed this little emergency stash!

The last thing I noticed (at least up to this point in my journey) is how strong the tendency is to eat more, not because of being hungry, but because of the memory of the taste. Often, I have a memory of the taste that comes back and motivates me to recapture it again now when I am faced with the same food. I see how connected this is with my dominant sensation of satisfying the taste.

However, now I recognise that usually this moment of taste sensation is very, very short. After all, how long does it take to eat a cookie? Often as soon as I begin to chew the food, I'm off thinking of something else or something else is happening around me so that the actual moment of the taste is so short it really only serves to get the food into my mouth!

Also, if I'm off thinking of other things or talking and therefore don't really taste the food as I chew it, I tend to eat quite fast and end up eating more than I need. However, when I stay with the taste as I chew, I eat more slowly, enjoy it more in the moment, and thus need less to feel that I have had a 'good' meal.

And sometimes the idea of how 'wonderful' this remembered taste is going to be doesn't actually match the cake or dish in front of me. Then I find myself feeling disappointed since I was expecting a better taste. I would sometimes eat more to try to get the remembered taste in the next bite since I hadn't get it in the last one. But now I can see that the disappointment is not with the dish in front of me. It is with the comparison to my idealised memory.

These realisations enabled me to change my relation with all those nice, or disappointing or so-short taste feelings! Now, I do not have only the narrowed moment of satisfaction of the desire without any choices. As long as I have the awareness of what I am up to, I have choices. And as soon as there are choices, the pathway of refusing to go into the sensation of the taste is simple. It turns into "no, it is not worth it".

This "no" is clear, I don't need to force myself or convince myself. I am simply able to see things more clearly and then to choose what works for me.

Interestingly enough, with growing experience at meeting those moments of choice, the decision of, "no, I won't take that food" has become transformed from a "no" into a "yes". A "yes" to being lighter. Yes to having more time. Yes to being in my own criteria and in touch with myself. Even yes to being able to choose. I am operating now from that other pan in the balance scales.

To go through this journey has made a huge difference. It has made me feel strong and clear. As a bonus now, with this clarity and strength, the habit is not there as much and the moments when choices are needed are not as frequent as they were in the beginning.

And above all, I am gradually becoming liberated from being a slave to my feelings and my previously unexamined thoughts.

Recently, I have become aware of how much my consciousness while eating has changed. I am more in touch with what I want and what I need to eat through using my own perceptions rather than from the ideas I have read or heard about. And I am much more present with the sheer experience of what I am eating which is the opposite of my old eating, which was narrowed and automatic.

This presentness gives me a pleasure of appreciation for the quality and the quantity of food I am having.

In fact, though I am eating less, I enjoy eating more than before!

And without the problems!


There is a small biography of personal details about the author below.

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About the Author

Photo of the author, Eillen SellamEillen Sellam
comes to teaching the LearningMethods work from a background in dance, music and the Alexander Technique. She completed her training as an Alexander Teacher in France and the United States. Over the years, her work has been enriched by her encounters with many teachers and by her experiences in Indian dance, singing, painting and the martial arts.

Up to 1996 Eillen maintained a private teaching practice and worked with singers of the École de Formation Lyrique de l’Opéra Bastille in Paris, but inspired by her experiences with the LearningMethods work outlined in her articles, she changed her direction to become a teacher of the LearningMethods work. She taught regularly at the Conservatoire de Théâtre in Avignon for years and now, having moved to Canada, she is building up her work there.

She was giving workshops in LearningMethods and Improvisational Creativity in various countries around Europe, Canada and the USA, until she began to take her knowledge of how to help young people into the mainstream. Eillen is now the director of a not-for-profit organization funded to bring educational programs on empathy, respect, and anti-bullying into the public school system in Ontario, Canada.

E-mail:      Web site: www.eillensellam.com/


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