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Obsession with my body

Hi,

If you like, I can offer you Buddha’s estimation of what food is for, how it fits in with the eightfold path, and how you can use it as a meditation method.

The Buddha’s estimation of food: it’s not for celebration or taste, it’s not for beauty or fitness - but mearly for the continuation of this body, for non-torment, for the ease of celibate life.

How it fits in with the eightfold path: The viewpoint ‘food is for celebration or taste’ sides with eroticism. The viewpoint ‘food is for beauty or fitness’ sides with austerity. The viewpoint ‘food is for continuation of the body, for non-torment, for the ease of celibate life’ is the goldilocks median, resulting in the goldilocks median of the next seven factors.

A meditation method: Visualize food. Then, assess your attention. Is it siding with eroticism (attending food as if it is for celebration or taste)? Then, try to move towards the median. It’s okay to overshoot, by aiming the opposite polarity, so long as you do not settle there.

Similarly, if your attention settled on the opposite polarity (food is for beauty & fitness), then move towards the median, or temporarily the opposite polarity (it is important to not settle at the opposite polarity).

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Thanks, this is exactly the kind of direction I was hoping to hear. I will take your instructions to heart.
Thank you.

"And what is the treasure of conscience? There is the case where a disciple of the noble ones feels shame at [the thought of engaging in] bodily misconduct, verbal misconduct, mental misconduct. This is called the treasure of conscience.

"And what is the treasure of concern? There is the case where a disciple of the noble ones feels concern for [the suffering that results from] bodily misconduct, verbal misconduct, mental misconduct. This is called the treasure of concern.”—-AN 7.6

Concern about body image is a legitimate painful feeling not of the flesh. However its goal should not be beauty, but health and fitness. Intermittent fasting helps meditation as the optimal meditation times are dawn and dusk due to the circadian rhythm of the body when the mind has access to the sub-conscious, and to have no food digesting allows maximum energy to be diverted to the brain. The best strategic decision-making occurs at those times, including insights into the dhamma.

An article on intermittent fasting :

Living in a materialist country the emphasis is on the body, but the mind also needs to be fed. With intermittent fasting part of the day is devoted to the body and part to the mind. When doing nothing except watching and guiding the mind it should be classified as ‘feeding the mind.’ At some stage in the future those accumulated efforts will manifest as mind development. The aspiration should be for beauty in the mind.

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Thank you so much Paul for that insightful message. I indeed have treasures of concern and conscience. And yes, this all about my health which has been failing over the last 5 years. Been doing a lot of research on metabolic syndrome, insulin resistance and began intermittent fast in June 29th of this year.
So thanks so much for your help. And now on to the article in the link!
Metta, my friend

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Don’t be too hard on yourself. As a lay person I ate dessert maybe twice a week now something sweet winds up in my bowl almost every day. A look around the dining room reveals the same thing for most of us well-fed monastics. If have it in the house (or on the bench at dāna time in our case) then you are totally likely to eat it. As a lay person I combatted this by not going grocery shopping hungry, and therefor not buying non-essential food.

Somehow I’ve managed to maintain my weight so far, but I can see it’s a whole new challenge as a monastic. :wink:

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Ahhhh, thanks for your support.

Fortunately or not, I have a personal shopper in the form of my spouse who a is a committed sale shopper AND a grocery store clerk. I am fortunate in the fact that we agree on most things, but as in all matters of marriage their are some minor disagreements: She says pototo, I say potato. I could intermittent fast daily, she wants alternate day intermittent fasting. I could go vegetarian, she is a carnivore. I could blame her for my shortcomings…I could end up divorced! LOL
So the struggle continues for the sake of health, and yet at 70 years old, Buddha helps me keep it in perspective. My goal is to be the thinnest corpse possible as they lay me out in something slim chic. But I ain’t countin’ on it.
Enjoy the soup! With Metta…in fact, make mine Metta Soup with a side of discipline.
Thank you Sincerely :innocent: :thinking: :japanese_ogre:

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The process of developing a feeling contact between the mind and parts of the body was described by Ajahn Brahm in his 2021 Vesak address. There it was said the mind already has contact with some parts of the body which are habitually used, but others are obscured, however feeling can be established with any part with practice. Overeating would cause activation of the taste apparatus and the mind would habitually locate to that area, an undesirable response. This primary reaction can be changed by the practice of concentrating on and activating a different part of the body, and the Buddhist recommendation is the breathing. This sensitization is identical with the instruction in the first tetrad:

“3] He trains himself, ‘I will breathe in sensitive to the entire body.’[2] He trains himself, ‘I will breathe out sensitive to the entire body.’ “—-MN 118

It would be up to the individual what part of the breathing apparatus or body is focussed on and sensitized, but the goal is to investigate (factor of awakening) and establish areas where pleasant feeling is arising as instructed in the second tetrad. The goal is also to get to a point where the mind automatically locates there:

“So let’s focus on the way we breathe. Where do you sense the breath right now? When you close your eyes, what sensations let you know that now the breath is coming in, now the breath is going out? Focus on them. They can be in any part of the body at all, for “breath” here means the flow of energy. Sometimes you’ll sense the breath as the feeling of the air moving in and out of the nose, but it can also be the rise and fall of the abdomen, the rise and fall of the chest. Sometimes those movements send ripples out to different parts of the body, so that you can sense even in your arms or your legs whether you’re breathing in or breathing out. So wherever you find it convenient to focus, focus on the breath sensations there.

Then allow them to be comfortable. In other words, don’t put too much pressure on them as you focus on them. At the same time, notice how long an in-breath feels good. At what point does the in-breath start feeling uncomfortable? Just breathe in as long as is comfortable, and then allow yourself to breathe out. Breathe out only as long as is comfortable, and then breathe back in again. Try to sensitize yourself to what feels good right now in terms of the breathing.

Think of the whole body breathing in, the whole body breathing out, with every cell in your body bathed with breath energy. When you think of the breath in that way, what kind of breathing feels good? You might find, as you start thinking in that way, that the breath gets deeper. If that feels gratifying, fine. If it feels uncomfortable, change the rhythm. Just think, “What would be more comfortable right now?” and see what the body does in response. Think of yourself as hovering around the breath. You’re not squeezing it out; you’re not forcing it in; you’re just staying very close to it, watching it, letting it adjust in whatever way feels good. Give it some space to adjust. Sometimes you might want to nudge it a little bit and see what longer breathing would feel like, or what shorter breathing would feel like, faster, slower, deeper, more shallow, and then notice what happens.”—-Thanissaro

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Dear Paul, thanks for that clarification on breathing-a subject so important to me as I have a sort of auto immune disease of the lungs called eosinophilic asthma. My lungs are so dysfunctional now that I am extremely limited in my activities to the degree that I often get winded trying to sweep the floor or walk up one flight of stairs.
So this is a very important reminder to focus on breathing, and doing it well as you described. Sometimes I just can’t bring myself to meditate because deep breathing is difficult and causes me much distress. But I will take this instruction to heart…or lung and continue to work with my breath.
Again, thank you so much. :persevere:

  1. Mendicants, there are five benefits of walking meditation. What five? You get fit for traveling, fit for striving in meditation, and healthy. What’s eaten, drunk, chewed, and tasted is properly digested. And immersion gained while walking lasts long. These are the five benefits of walking meditation.
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Thanks, but I am sorry to say that I can’t walk the 70 feet from one end of my mobile to the other, and to make it even more difficult because I have allergic asthma all of my allergies trigger an allergic response when I go outside.
Not complaining…just explaining.
Thank you!

The least you can do then, if you can’t walk, is accept that life is suffering. That way, your energies will not fight to get rid of suffering. (Aversion).

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Ahhh, yes precisely. This is how I spend my days…meditating on my relatively minor suffering compared to the world at large. My suffering seems insurmountable to me, yet I meditate on the much greater suffering of the world at large, and some folks I know who live with pain.
Thanks for the reminder
With metta to all!

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