This is the 7th blog in an ongoing series of a yogin’s intentional “crimes against wisdom.” This series is highlighting my experience of purposefully ignoring 10 years of training in yoga, meditation, ayurveda and psychology in favor of performing typical current cultural behaviors of modernity. It will catalog all the negative symptoms endured, explanations of the principles broken, insights gained along the way and the entire “recovery process” as I return to a life based on staples of natural wisdom. You can find the 1st introductory blog here, and you can sign on for the RSS feed and see all the blogs, here by choosing the appropriate link in the top right corner of the page. Please also feel free to “like” our FB page: here follow us on Twitter, here and share the fruits of this experiment with your friends.
The Spare Tire
I’m carrying around a little extra luggage these days. As promised, you’re about to see a few preview pictures… but, far more embarrassing will be the videos to come!
It has been interesting to notice that I am more vain than I thought I was. Thus, in sharing these pictures I have mixed emotions: 80% humor, 20% embarrassment. It doesn’t help that I just farted and it smells like something crawled up in me and died. But, 1.5 months of crimes against wisdom will turn any digestive system awry. Of course, there is probably some degree to which my body is just not used to what I have been doing and it would adjust if I did it for longer. But, why would I want my body to get used to this?
Plus, its not like I was a purist before. I received some feedback from a reader who enlightened me on the virtues of not being so rigid in health practices. Perhaps I haven’t been clear about the life of a tantrik yogin. Before this experiment, living in a yogic training grounds, I was certainly not a puritan. We eat meat daily (and think the vegetarian movement in spirituality is misguided), drink beers on the occasion and enjoy dipping coconut donuts into the finest non-organic, whole, chocolate milk ambrosia known to mankind (Thailand’s “Meiji”). We watch an occasional movie, cheer on the latest MMA fights or search for results of the Stanley Cup (Go Bruins!), etc.
Then again, there are designated times of more intensive retreat where a more strict regimen is adhered to. But, just so people aren’t confused that I am experiencing all these negative symptoms due to the contrast from eating rainbows, I thought it prudent to share a principle of tantrik ayurveda:
This is how I live normally… the trouble is, the crimes against wisdom I have been performing have gotten too far ahead of my ability to digest, and that is why I feel (and smell) like shit!
I shall procrastinate my shame no more, here are the pics:
I’ll admit, there is nothing more annoying than someone who is not fat saying, “I’m so fat.” So, I am not saying I am fat. I am not fat. In fact, a yogin’s body should be “juicy” and not sucked in a drawn as has become popular in model mags and hot-room yoga studios. But, it also doesn’t need to be sloppy and lumpy like it is now. This body that you see here simply doesn’t feel good. I want to be clear about this to let everyone know I am not tripping on the fat/skinny thing.
(I am coining a new Yogi Berra-ism: It doesn’t feel good to not feel good. Pass it on.)
In a few months when I get back into shape I am sure you will see that I still have quite a healthy layer of fat. This is essential for sanity, remaining grounded in an alchemical yoga practice, and for overall joy in life. Experiment or no experiment, I like a pad of butter on my bread. The fruit of tantrik yoga is a rich and full life; this view most certainly includes a delicious diet, well digested, and a layer of unctuous insulation.
For now, what has got me to the disheveled state you see above is mostly attributable to lack of exercise. But, to add insult to injury, the specific things that have diminished my digestion most are poor food combining and overeating. Poor food combining includes things like:
- – The previously mentioned, milk and meat (actually, milk and just about anything – milk is a wonderful addition to any healthy lifestyle but should be taken alone).
- - Multiple kinds of meat in one meal
- - Equal portions raw food and cooked
- - Combining different starches in one meal
- - Fruit and non-fruit together (fruit as dessert = generally a bad idea for digestion – fruit is best alone, especially all kinds of melon)
- - The ayurveda list for bad food combos is extensive – these are some of the major ones.
Then, I have been overeating – a lot. Experiment or not, I have always struggled with this. I love to eat. Who doesn’t? A good simple rule on eating “enough” is: one-third food, one-third liquid, one-third empty. We have to give our food some room to churn around so our digestive enzymes can do their thing. Plus, adding some moisture in every few bites puts our food in the most digestible form: stew.
What do we eat when we are sick? Soup. Why? Because we can digest it. Obviously, we don’t want to eat stew every meal, but we can save energy and get the most out of our food by creating these conditions in our stomach with sauces and with a sip of warm water (or better-yet, broth) every few bites.
In the past few weeks I’ve done none of these things. I have been sucking down ice-water like a parched gringo in an El Paso desert (true story). Ice-water can kill the digestive fire and disturb the wind element, which can lead to anxiety and restlessness among other things. But, taking cold water out of the game is shocking to so many people. I am always surprised when I see the level of resistance I get to this suggestion. I get looks, and sometimes statements like, “You must be out of your mind!” I assure you, though, its just a matter of conditioning. Give it a good month of drinking room temperature to warm liquids and you will be the one looking with astonishment at people downing the icy drinks. This will be an amazing boon to improving your digestion.
Far worse than ice water (which, to be fair, may sometimes be appropriate – ayurveda 101 = “for whom and when”) is eating too much. I notice a compulsive energy take over me when I am stuffing myself. I go relatively unconscious, I eat faster and I start “scarfing” it down when I am full but want to keep eating anyway. The messed up thing is that when I am in this mode I am barely enjoying the food at all.
It has been interesting to “keep eating anyway” these last weeks while still remaining conscious. Awareness is amazing. When aware it is very difficult to ignore the signs the body is giving us. But, ignore I did and at times it was even enjoyable. But, is it worth the pimples, the b.o., and the bad gas? No. It is definitely not worth feeling bloated as I do, or feeling so fatigued after I eat.
Food should be energizing. Its purpose, besides enjoyment for its own sake, is to fuel us. So, if our meals are making us more tired this doesn’t make much sense, does it? But, again, the miracle drug coffee makes our indiscretions all the more possible. A cup or two after lunch and I can keep on working! The other cultural norm that I have been partaking of is eating meals, my biggest meals no less, late at night.
Some people eat an hour or two before bed. Why? We don’t need that much energy to sleep. Plus, when we do fall asleep our digestive system shuts down. This means that any food not fully processed sits in our stomach and literally rots all night. Then, when we wake up in the morning our body digests the putrid food and we are fed by poison rather than food. In ayurveda this poison is called “ama,” and its build-up over years and years calcifies in our tissues, muscles, blood and flesh and ultimately results in disease.
Human beings need not die of anything but old age. Toxic build-up ensures un-natural death and unnecessary suffering along the way. We can avoid a lot of ama by eating our largest meal at lunch time when we need the energy, and by giving ourselves at least 3-4 hours after eating before we go to sleep. This is also a great way to avoid putting on excess weight.
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