Tolerating, Emptying and Beginning Again

Tolerating, Emptying and Beginning Again

For over a year, I noticed I was tolerating simple eating and thinking habits, that by themselves were rather insignificant. But over time, the cumulative effect left me wanting to make a change—to begin again. I knew the process needed to start with the fuel I put in my body, or what I was “taking in.” So, at the end of December last year, I started a reset. The food portion was called, “The Ultimate Reset.” Like any change process, it was hard. Six weeks later, I have a few reflections on what I’m now aware of, a bit less physical weight and a recognition of the mental weight of outdated thought patterns.

The best word I can find to describe where I started is, emptying. Last year one of the books I read and loved was called, “Essentialism.” In it, the author describes a process of cleaning out your closet. I put on my favorite shirts, began realizing they were my favorites 10 years ago, and asked three questions: “Do I love this?” “Does it make me look fabulous?” “Would I buy it today?” and sorting them into three piles: Keep, Maybe and Give Away. The Maybe pile quickly became a Give Away item and, after a short afternoon and a friend to help me make the hard decisions, cleaned out my closet. Quickly, I felt physically lighter! I realized if I could do this with my clothes closet, why couldn’t I do it with what I was taking into my body and mind?

And so, the reset began with an emptying – a new beginning. I removed all meat, dairy, sugars and eventually grains from my diet for three weeks. Then, over the last three weeks, I am mindfully adding a few things back into my diet, when I feel ready for it. Yes, this is a vegan process and as I said, it’s hard. I don’t plan on being vegan but it’s taught me so much about conscious eating! I quickly lost the weight I’d been carrying around unintentionally. To remind me of this experience, I have a 15-pound weight at the top of my stairs that prompts my thought every time I see it – what am I tolerating right now?

Here’s the most interesting part: I began noticing thought patterns that weren’t productive, like being hard on myself for making unpopular decisions and feeling like I was alone. I became hyper aware of the images I was unconsciously taking in to my thought that exploited violence and sex, and lingering in news stories that were divisive or sensational. And I became aware of habits that were unconscious like how often I got a latte in a throw away cup, contributing to the waste stream unnecessarily. This process wasn’t just about food! Today, I realize I’m at the very front end of a long arc of awareness-building, of becoming more conscious and mindful. And just barely scratching the surface. I’m fascinated to see what’s next and will keep checking in over the next few months. By the way, I chose to go through this process with a partner. Someone who also was interested in a reset and ever so lovingly walked by my side and gently challenged me to keep going.

For now, I’ll leave you with this humbling question, asked with deep care: What are you tolerating, and what are you doing about it?