Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Nil By Mouth




After feeling so good on the last fast, I decided to notch it up to 48 hours for Lent. Since being introduced to the effect of lunar cycles and their effect on us (used in traditional farming as well as biodynamic horticulture), I’ve been curious about how they can affect our every day lives, if at all.

Today’s New Moon, a time of waning energy and considered to be a great time to start new ventures and projects, inspired me to take time out from work, relax and just see what happened without expectations, to-do lists or judgements about how much time I may or may not spent in my bed. This is much more difficult than I’d anticipated. Surely, I needed some rules…about maybe having a digital detox at the same time? What would I drink? Fresh ginger tea worked really well and, as you can see from this post, a digital detox didn’t really. My world really changed when I bought my laptop 2 years ago. I even gave him a name and we go everywhere together – it’s my library, my study time, my phone (I don’t have a mobile) and my connection to friends and family. Hugh is the source of all power! Er, back to fasting…

It was also important to me to not think of these days as my fasting days – fasting was incidental to having time to myself. We all know that the moment anything is forbidden, the more you are inclined to fixate on it. I wanted to just let the day flow and not get bogged down with feeling obligated to fill my room with candles, panpipes or whalesong and some violent form of breathing. Without any rules, I was apprehensive. To-do lists are my saline drip.

For a long time, I’ve dreamt of the joy of not having to make a meal every day since I always tried to cook from scratch. I loved working in caf├ęs because I’d get a nice hot meal after my shift. Finally, at Sunseed, the dream has come true - the communal aspect of living is the knight on shining grills and means we all eat twice a day and only have to cook once, or twice a week. Joy! But like all dreams, they are soon popped by reality’s brutal needle.

I’ve been eating like a King since I arrived with good and hearty meals and in the winter, we  usually have two cooked meals a day. With constant access to delicious, wholesome food and leftovers, it can be really difficult to have some self-discipline. We eat very well and only have a pudding once a week, but it’s still possible to eat more than I need. Being used to cooking for one at home, I’d never really consider seconds; that would be tomorrow’s lunch. And when the kitchen starts to become the communal hub of activity and occasional raves, a cheeky snack makes everything slip down a little more sweetly.

I’ve never been fat. Since 1999, with the exception of working full-time in an ice cream one very rainy summer, I’ve always weighed 68 kilograms and longed for a few extra pounds. I’ve always exercised in one way or another, so I’m in no way resembling a galactic black hole of appetite, awaiting a strong enough  air-lift to save me from myself by wiring up my jaw. No. But I do think, at any size and age, many of us can benefit from putting food in its place – eating when we’re actually hungry, not when we’re anxious, bored, uncertain what to do next, in the kitchen or because other people are. The last one’s pretty hard – we fundamentally want to belong and find our tribe. Express your emotions in a journal, book a therapist but leave the cheese, biscuits or [insert favourite food] alone. The truth is for most people who are able to access the net and read this blog, we’d have to try hard to starve.



 I absolutely and utterly love food. If there was a job which wasn’t drenched in shame where I could eat for most of the day, I would gladly send off my CV. If I have too much cash on me in a supermarket, I get a similar feeling – the shiny packets, the colours, the organisation of the shelves and the recipe shares..omg it’s all so joyous and wonderful. Waitrose is my very own Willy Wonka.

But what a bonkers situation. Having worked with producers and seen the provenance of many of these ingredients, I’m always reminded of the tremendous amounts of work that have gone into even the simplest bunch of carrots. And while there’s no use being too literal about the world and its things (because it is bonkers and needn’t be figured out), it’s nice to opt out every now and again to get perspective. On my fast day, I can get hungry. I get over it.

It’s no easy ride – sometimes, I get a real buzzy glow and I feel so much energy, I spend a lot of the day with my favourite music on, dancing around and singing. This time wasn’t like that. I felt quiet and asked myself questions about where I’m up to, how happy I am in my life and what my next step is. I watched a lovely film and read a book about Jung’s archetypes which I regretted. I studied and loved what I’m learning about biomechanics. I felt uncomfortable, ugly this morning, cold if I wasn’t careful and  I watched all this  -wondering what to make of it and if I like the way I was treating myself, if I could step out of my own way. Being kind to oneself is hard.

I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t looking forward to eating in an hour or so. But 48 hours has taught me a lot about time wasted and minutes filled by filling my mouth rather than my life with much more important and nourishing things.

1 comment:

  1. Hey Mark! I've been doing 2 days of 500 calls or less - just one evening meal on Mon and Thurs. Other days eat what I want when hungry - just then also smaller portions and feel great for it!

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