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Obsession with my body

I hope my point is not taken as flippant or superficial because it is serious to me. I confused about the Buddhist view of the body-if there is such a view. To be clear I am overweight due to a variety of factors which include age and metabolism based on inability to exercise due to health issues. Obesity is a national health problem here in the U.S., and thus is an important factor in my health.
I lost 70 pounds a couple of years ago and felt really good in my body and my ego.
Then I gained it back. And since then I am obsessed about losing it again… This results in a certain amount of anguish based on my poor body image and inability to control it.
What is right thinking about obesity? Should I love my body no matter how unhealthy? Or how to endeavor to lose weight without being attached to the process?
Thank you!

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You know the Buddha gave diet advice too, right? :thinking:

But, on a serious note… there is invaluable Dhamma learning in your experience here. The body is actually quite outside one’s control, it is not you neither is it yours. And as you have found out already, the body behaves like an assassin, pretending to listen to one, while secretly having its own aims! Seeing its impermanence and the drawbacks of attaching to it, could you let it go? Perhaps that might allow a healthier relationship to form, between you, your body and its sustenance… one where you could let go of the hindrances of desire, anger and aversion for the Body while building up Mindfulness and proper attention for it supplemented with an attitude of remaining suitably detached from its demands.

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I personally don’t think it’s wrong to endeavour to change something about yourself, but it’s important not to indulge in negative views about yourself in the process. For example, not “I need to exercise because I’m a lazy bum,” but “I want to exercise because it makes me feel better.” I think it’s important not to blame yourself or be too judgemental about how “successfully” or quickly you achieve your goal, either. Mindfulness is important, too, as it can reveal underlying emotional patterns that drive our behaviour, but that we are unaware of. All of this is, of course, easier said than done. But change is a slow process, and requires patience and compassion for ourselves.

I view Buddhism as a process of self improvement, and have found Buddhism very empowering. If we can all become arahants, we can do anything!

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Thank you, that is truly awesome advice and provided me with some necessary clarity. My attachment is great. Two problems, though: One is the health implications of obesity. And the second is that I am going to need a whole new wardrobe.
Thinking about getting a variety of Muumuu’s: ‘muʻumuʻu is a loose dress of Hawaiian origin that hangs from the shoulder and is like a cross between a shirt and a robe.’
(Muumuu - Wikipedia)

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Or "I gotta lose weight cause I have a negative self image? Or because of a lack of control? Or because my clothes don’t fit me like they use to?

And as a related issue, because I am attached to my desire to eat, as in “Shouldn’t I be disciplined enough to eat like a monk?”

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If its any consolation, this is a problem for all of us crossing middle age… myself included! :joy: Despite one’s best efforts some (likely all) things alas, are outside one’s control. And with the mountains of Old age and Death closing in, what else is there to do but practice being skillful in all aspects of our life?

SN3.3
The fancy chariots of kings wear out,
and this body too gets old.
But goodness never gets old:
so the true and good proclaim.

Hang in there, Rosie! We’re rooting for you!
:slightly_smiling_face:

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Thanks, I know but I really wanna look fine in my casket and know that it did not have to be EXTRA LARGE! :crazy_face: :crazy_face: :stuck_out_tongue_closed_eyes: :stuck_out_tongue:

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This is a common misconception about the conditioned path, which requires attachment to the process up until the last stage. The misunderstanding comes about through reading suttas speaking from the perspective of the arahant. This sutta is delivered by Ananda to a nun, and such suttas describe the conditioned path at a level that is relevant to western practitioners:

“‘This body comes into being through craving. And yet it is by relying on craving that craving is to be abandoned.’ Thus was it said. And in reference to what was it said? There is the case, sister, where a monk hears, ‘The monk named such-and-such, they say, through the ending of the fermentations, has entered & remains in the fermentation-free awareness-release & discernment-release, having known & realized them for himself in the here & now.’ The thought occurs to him, ‘I hope that I, too, will — through the ending of the fermentations — enter & remain in the fermentation-free awareness-release & discernment-release, having known & realized them for myself in the here & now.’ Then he eventually abandons craving, having relied on craving. ‘This body comes into being through craving. And yet it is by relying on craving that craving is to be abandoned.’ Thus was it said.”—AN 4.159

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@Rosie I am not a ‘GURU’ or an ‘EXPERT’. However as a fellow with the same weight-problem. I want to share what I have been through. I used to be a fat guy with 106 kgs weight but today I am in my 75 kgs.

Do not be confused at all. As confusion can increase your own ‘stress-level’ whether you realize it (in your concious-mind) or not (in your unconscious or subconcious-mind).

Buddha’s Teaching is very easy. What we have to do is to STOP THE PROGRESS and to REGRESS the course.

First, what should we do to STOP the weight PROGRESSION. Just do not ponder, wonder, questioning yourself, etc. Take it as ‘Natural-Condition’ which can happens to every living being. What is wrong of being over-weight? Just embrace it. This act will stop the weight to increase. Be mindfully accept the current situation and STOP the weight progression.

Secondly, try to mindfully eat. You eat because the body NEED it. Not because the mind WANT it. Everytime we want to eat something, please take a deep breath a few times or minutes. Be mindful of every feeling that emerge that urge us to eat. Question ourself whether the body really NEED it? Or it is just our mind WANT it? Slowly the ‘volition’ to eat will subside. If we can’t, use our logic, how much calories we have already taken? How much calories we have spent? How much calories that we have already saves as ‘FAT’ within the body.

I believe that will be of a great help. And, always remember to take a deep breath everytime the VOLITION (to eat) emerge.

:pray::pray::pray:

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Hey Paul, your wisdom is deep, and mine is not. Yours is like a great lake and mine a small tributary. You have stimulated my brain, and thus I have questions. If these questions require too much of a response some links to greatr wisdom will suffice. THANK YOU!

This is new to me. I thought that the body came into being as a result of causes and conditions.

Could you elaborate on these principles which are beyond my awareness? Is this a bodily process called fermentation? In the mean while I will look at the passage.
With Metta, Teacher. :thinking: :green_heart:

Thanks, I needed that. And I must say that I do not like the way the stress feels.

Obesity lends itself as a cause of diabetes. This is my other chief concern, vanity yes, but secondarily

Yes, these are important considerations. As far as ‘spending’ calories, I have not been able to spend enough due to severe allergic asthma. Yet your wisdom makes sense, and I will endeavor to follow it.
Thank you, with Mucho Metta! :slightly_smiling_face: :thinking:

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I don’t know how much interest you have in diets, but the low carb diet works miracles. The science behind it is sound, and everyone I know (myself included) who have been on it have lost weight. You don’t even need to exercise or count calories, you just count carbs. You can eat regular sized meals, so long as they are low in carbohydrates, too.

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At this stage, please hold for a short public service announcement


All opinions by participants on this thread are deemed to be be expressions of their own personal experience, which are not necessarily valid for other participants. This forum, as also the internet should not comprise the primary source of advice for anyone regarding their lifestyle, diet, meditation practice etc. Users are advised to seek professional personalized advice from their own doctors, dietitians and spiritual advisers. Diets and meditation practices can be harmful, and potentially even life threatening if embarked upon without adequate professional supervision.

<<< Beep! >>>


We now return to the thread and our discussion… :slightly_smiling_face:

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Perhaps it’s worth taking a look at AN 5.57 if you haven’t already.

It says

(2) “And for the sake of what benefit should a woman or a man, a householder or one gone forth, often reflect thus: ‘I am subject to illness; I am not exempt from illness’? In a state of health beings are intoxicated with their health, and when they are intoxicated with their health they engage in misconduct by body, speech, and mind. But when one often reflects upon this theme, the intoxication with health is either completely abandoned or diminished. It is for the sake of this benefit that a woman or a man, a householder or one gone forth, should often reflect thus: ‘I am subject to illness; I am not exempt from illness.’

Therefore, whole-hearted practice of these perceptions should diminish obsession with the body. As the sutta hints, this way of practice has high potential when done well. There’s even a buddhist legend in which a young girl develops these 5 perceptions diligently and has a breakthrough to the Dhamma after just two years of practice.

As a fellow body-obsession sufferer (the hypochondria variety in my case), I wish you all the best in diminishing and hopefully uprooting this terrible thorn :pray::white_heart:

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I think there is nothing praiseworthy about being unhealthy or obese. I fail to see this line of reasoning as necessarily an obsession/attachment with the body.

In my view, a sign of “obsessions” is making drama about something that is straightforward. For most people, unless having certain medical conditions, to lose weight requires eating less and burning more. If you do this, you will probably lose weight. If you do not do it, you wont.

While certain practices are described as more advanced than others, it boils down to this:

When this is, that is; This arising, that arises; When this is not, that is not; This ceasing, that ceases."

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The only reason we are born on this sensual plane and have a body is because there is a remnant of craving, it attracts us to this plane. But the important part of the passage is:

“And yet it is by relying on craving that craving is to be abandoned.”

This means we must draw on our ambitions and competitive urges (body image) to motivate our steps toward goal achievement, that is skillful use of conditioned phenomena and is the only means we have to move beyond our present situation. Physical exercise has big psychological benefits and the Buddha knew this and incorporated walking on the open road into his life activities as a matter of course. He also instituted the not eating after midday rule which has now been recognized to have health benefits and is known today as ‘intermittent fasting.’ Some lay practitioners follow this practice because it enables the mind to be oriented to meditation not digestion, at the optimal meditation times of dawn and dusk, when the circadian rhythm is moving between the waking and sleeping state, and therefore allows contact with the subconscious.

Samsara or the cycle of conditioned phenomena is described as a current, and to overcome it requires a plan of action, if we become a victim to it we are not following the Buddhist path. This means going beyond the whirlpool of conditioned phenomena by utilizing wisdom such as I have described. Wisdom or skillful use is our only means of escape. We must keep our goals in mind and adopt a warrior attitude to take the steps to achieve them over the long term, in this way coming to “know and realize release by wisdom in the here and now.”

“Suppose, monks, a man wants a snake, looks for a snake, goes in search of a snake. He then sees a large snake, and with a forked stick he holds it firmly down. Having done so he catches it firmly by the neck. Then although the snake might entwine with (the coils of) its body that man’s hand or arm or some other limb of his, still he does not on that account suffer death or deadly pain. And why not? Because of his right grasp of the snake.”—MN 22

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A perhaps-relevant line in SN22.9

…a learned noble disciple doesn’t worry about past form, doesn’t look forward to enjoying future form, and they practice for disillusionment, dispassion, and cessation regarding present form.

…although perhaps they mean future life bodies(?); I defer to anyone in robes.

Worst case, a current inability to control it. You’ve lost weight before, you will again when the time is right. It “felt really good in my body and my ego” is a good reflection i.m.o. because when we have a ‘why’, the ‘how’ just somehow figures itself out.

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Hi Rosie,
I’ll tread carefully on this topic as I’ve been there as well and I know how personal this can be. I’ll ask forgiveness in advance from this group so no one kicks me out from it.
My health problems started when I was around 254 pounds and I realized that I was shooting myself on my foot as the issues were self-inflicted.
Although exercise is good for your health it is only marginally beneficial for loosing weight. You can do the math and see how many hours of exercise you need to lose 1 pound. Therefore, although it is highly beneficial, it is not the cornerstone if you want / need loose weight.
Being mindful is of course VERY important for everything in life, not just eating. So, I can eat mindfully and mindfully feel the feeling of hunger linger on for hours, torturing myself. I confess that in the fight myself against my body, I lost.
I realized it didn’t work because the problem (MY problem, not necessarily yours) was not exercise or mindfulness, but the type of food I was eating. So I took a two steps approach: in the first, I’ve eliminated meat and all animal derivatives. In the second, I fully incorporated a whole food plant-based diet. At the advice of my wife, I did it with the support of my doctor.
The result is that I lost around 65 pounds and have been maintaining it without effort for more than a year. I also got more energy and started enjoying to exercise. Finally, I still eat a lot - really! Just my plants, grains and vegetables.
Unfortunately, I still have a long way to go to improve my mindfulness in daily life.
With metta,
David

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Hey Daluan, first I would like to thank you for your brutal yet humble self appraisal. I feel like that is an apt statement, very Western in its definition of Buddhism. Brutal [ “direct and lacking any attempt to disguise unpleasantness”] yet compassionate in it’s treatment of human consciousness.

And yet this:

is unecessarily harsh. No one is going to kick you out for being honest. Believe me when I say that because I too have been, shall we say emotionally forthright . It’s okay. Everything is okay!

I think you make some good points. And congrats on taking the high road when it comes to dieting. Have you heard of a book called 'Wheat Belly"?. Made me quit eating wheat for a year. Didn’t change my weight much at all, but I felt better about it.
All of this discussion leads back to certain fundamental Buddhist principals: desire being one of the most difficult to deal with. Lack of emotional equilibrium manifesting as anxiety and/or gluttony. And a general lack of awareness as others have pointed out previously.

And mindfulness is a good thing but a double edge sword which can also be interpreted as indulgence or immersion both of which seem like ways to distract ourselves from the present. I lost 70 pounds with Weight Watchers. PM me if you would like an extended discussion.

Peace, Rosie

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Hello good day !

Have you thought about intuitive eating? There is a mindfulness aspect to it and so far it has been helpful. If you’re interested you can listen to the podcast interview # 220 here Podcast with Dan Harris — Ten Percent Happier . It really helps when it comes to problems related to yoyo dieting and gaining back the weight after the weight loss . Of course with proper consultation with your nutritionist or dietitian in regards to the food eaten .

Basically these are the principles of intuitive eating :

  1. Reject the diet mentality
    The diet mentality is the idea that there’s a diet out there that will work for you. Intuitive eating is the anti-diet.

  2. Honor your hunger
    Hunger is not your enemy.

Respond to your early signs of hunger by feeding your body. If you let yourself get excessively hungry, then you are likely to overeat.

  1. Make peace with food
    Call a truce in the war with food.

Get rid of ideas about what you should or shouldn’t eat.

  1. Challenge the food police
    Food is not good or bad and you are not good or bad for what you eat or don’t eat.

Challenge thoughts that tell you otherwise.

  1. Respect your fullness
    Just as your body tells you when it’s hungry, it also tells you when it’s full.

Listen for the signals of comfortable fullness, when you feel you have had enough. As you’re eating, check in with yourself to see how the food tastes and how hungry or full you are feeling.

  1. Discover the satisfaction factor
    Make your eating experience enjoyable. Have a meal that tastes good to you. Sit down to eat it.

When you make eating a pleasurable experience, you may find it takes less food to satisfy you.

  1. Honor your feelings without using food
    Emotional eating is a strategy for coping with feelings.

Find ways that are unrelated to food to deal with your feelings, such as taking a walk, meditating, journaling, or calling a friend.

Become aware of the times when a feeling that you might call hunger is really based on emotion.

  1. Respect your body
    Rather than criticizing your body for how it looks and what you perceive is wrong with it, recognize it as capable and beautiful just as it is.

  2. Exercise — feel the difference
    Find ways to move your body that you enjoy. Shift the focus from losing weight to feeling energized, strong, and alive.

  3. Honor your health — gentle nutrition
    The food you eat should taste good and make you feel good.

Remember that it’s your overall food patterns that shape your health. One meal or snack isn’t going to make or break your health.

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Actually, I have! And I do…I think. And this is a great way to ‘process’ food feelings. But I also find that controlling blood sugar is a scientific approach.

Hunger CAN be an enemy if it involves Oreos and chocolate milk past bed time.

Oh Boy, now THERE is a box o’ worms. This is where I really fall down and can’t get up because of my loud ego that judges my form before I am even aware. I say hide all mirrors!

Thanks, I will put that in my tool box. With Metta!

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