52. Learning to Sit
Welcome to episode 52 of the Mindful Weight Loss Podcast. I am your host and your coach, Emily Erekuff and today I am talking about meditation, what it teaches us and how we can think about it more specifically in a way that can really aid us with overeating and our quest for weight loss.
And the title of this podcast, Learning to Sit, is amusing to me because it's a reference to meditation, but it's also a reference to something that I heard Kyle Cease say. Kyle is a comedian turned spiritual coach I would say, and if you don't know him, definitely check him out on youtube. He's such a great source of wisdom and he's so down to earth and can be incredibly funny which is the best combination. He's a great reminder for us more uptight spiritual seekers to relax just a bit.
And anyway, he compared the experience of wanting something to happen in your life to the experience that a dog has when he wants a treat. And just as the dog has to learn to sit before he can have the treat, there's something important that we have to learn before we can get that thing we want. And for me this analogy just resonates so much. I identify with that experience of not understanding so much - whether I've been wanting weight loss or more money or a different job, or whatever - I can distinctly remember thinking, "Ok God/Universe, what do you want from me? What's it going to take? What am I not doing that you want me to do?"
And there are so many levels to how I'm able to understand this now that I want to share with you. And the first is that I really do think God or the Universe really does want us to literally just sit, as in sit in meditation. And it's crazy but when we sit we learn the very same things the dog learns when he or she sits. We learn to pay attention, to listen, to not succumb to distractions. We learn patience, and ultimately we learn how to receive. We learn what to do to really get what we want.
And this reminds me of this quote from Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse. He says:
“When you throw a rock into the water, it will speed on the fastest course to the bottom of the water. This is how it is when Siddhartha has a goal, a resolution. Siddhartha does nothing, he waits, he thinks, he fasts, but he passes through the things of the world like a rock through water, without doing anything, without stirring; he is drawn, he lets himself fall. His goal attracts him, because he doesn't let anything enter his soul which might oppose the goal. This is what Siddhartha has learned among the Samanas. This is what fools call magic and which they think is effected by demons. Nothing is effected by demons, there are no demons. Everyone can perform magic, everyone can reach his goals, if he is able to think, if he is able to wait, if he is able to fast.”
And now please ignore the references to fasting because I don't think they are relevant or helpful for our purposes. I have been fascinated with this quote ever since I read it back in high school. It always sounded so right to me and yet so mystical. It made so much sense to me and yet was too simple. And over the years, I heard a lot of law of attraction proponents say the same thing - that when you want something you need to do less; you need to stop doing things that are getting in the way.
Even now, this lesson continues to be such an incredible journey for me, and probably for many of us because we are taught to do. We are taught to work, to be aggressive and to make an impact. That's how we learn to be valuable in society. And I'm not saying that we shouldn't participate in society. But we do so to the point of distraction and disconnection. We have become so consumed with what is out there - whether that's in the future or what everyone else is doing, or what we want to achieve - that we completely overlook what is right here.
And when you can see this clearly, you start to see that it is true madness. Ultimately, in order to lose weight, what do you need to do? Eat less, right? Ultimately we need to do that thing we do, eating less. We need to do less.
But instead of doing less, we do more. We research diet plans, go on diets, read self help books, listen to podcasts, give up carbs, go on juice fasts, start exercising. I mean, you name it, we do it. And when that doesn't work, we throw our hands up and say "What the heck do you want me to do?" And we're completely missing the point and the lesson that the Universe has for us. The Universe doesn't want us to do all that. The Universe doesn't want us to do anything. The Universe just wants us to sit. And it's not going to give us what we want until we sit and learn what it has to teach us.
And just coming to this understanding is so indicative of growth, because really our growth is in so many ways less expansion and more undoing; unlearning. We need to unlearn all the lessons society teaches us about focusing outward and learn to look inside. As Rumi said, "Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it." Our growth is less about learning and more about letting falsehoods fall away.
Our growth is also internal. That's precisely why we can do nothing or do less and create change - because the change we are creating is inside us, not outside. And that's why no amount of external effort will make any difference if that effort isn't being directed from deep within.
And that's also why, so often, we don't get what we want, especially right away. We seek these external changes to bring us an internal state of happiness or peace. Our brains are crying out to be thin, rich and successful, but our souls are crying out for peace and contentment. We don't actually want what we think we want, but thankfully the Universe is so much smarter than we are. The Universe knows that you want to learn to feel like you are enough, and it requires that you sit and learn that lesson before it gives you a false reason, like being thin, to allow you to temporarily validate yourself.
You think you want to be thin, but you really want something else. Just like you think you want to eat a tube of cookie dough, but really you want something else. And that something else lies on the other side of sitting with your urge or desperation to have that thing. Every time you meditate and you sit with the urge to get up or check your phone you are learning the lesson. Every time you learn to sit with your body just as it is, you are learning the lesson. And you are learning how to overcome the urge to overeat. The next time you meditate, notice how similar all those urges are. If you can resist the urge to stop meditating and go do whatever is nagging at you, you can resist the urge to overeat. It's all the same. You must sit with whatever challenges your peace. You must sit and learn to be peaceful with it; learn to be peaceful with all that is.
When we sit we also learn to cultivate patience and in-so-doing we learn to receive. When we can learn to tolerate and accept that which is uncomfortable, that which many call suffering, we also open ourselves up to realize how blissful and delicious the present moment is. And it's not a "special" moment; it's not better than any other one. And it's not your final destination.
Another quote I love is from Lama Surya Das. He says, "Arrive where you are."
Arrive where you are and wherever that is. Wake up to the miracle of this moment no matter how uncomfortable and ugly you may think it is, because it is only your thinking that makes it so and it is only your resistance that keeps you from all the good that you want and have already. Resist nothing and you will receive everything.
But in order to that you must learn to sit. You need to stop distracting yourself with Instagram or relationship or career drama, or even with your own weight loss struggle. All of the things out there that we think we must fix - it's all illusory. Changing it doesn't change you and that's the real goal.
And it's strangely by understanding that nothing needs to change (including you) that everything changes FOR you. All those false needs to fix this or change that fall away. You are left purely with what is. And you know that can judge some of it good and some of it bad, or better yet you can simply experience all that this present moment has to offer.
I hope you enjoyed this episode and I will see you next week. Take care.