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December 22, 2015

“Between Stimulus and Response there is a Space.”

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“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.” ~ Viktor E. Frankl

My yoga teacher, Pete, likes to reference this quote. Stimulus and response: My life story outside of his studio summed up in two words.

Seeing bread rolls on the table in a restaurant, craving to eat them all. Buying a pint of ice cream, unable to finish before seeing the cardboard bottom. Disengaging from conversations and relationships in the world due to visions of the food at home in my kitchen waiting for me to come hide away.

Where does this tendency come from? My family tells a story about summer vacations when I was as young as four or five years old. We took long walks, and I would want the walk to be over. They “bribed” me with Oreos and Milanos, enabling a lifelong relationship with Nabisco and Pepperidge Farm.

This is not a post about blame, nor am I isolating one symptom or cause. What food has always been to me put simply: go-to nourishment, fuel and support. I don’t eat to live, I eat to feel alive.

How comforting, then, to look at the above Viktor Frankl quote and remember that I, too, have a choice. My tendencies are deeply rooted in my every cell, but every trigger is an opportunity for growth and freedom.

In my early twenties I spent the night with my new boyfriend at the time, who thought it would be romantic to surprise me on his way out. Give me one last kiss. I heard him knocking outside my door and my heart did skip a beat, but only because I had to rinse the chocolate from my mouth. It was a particular angst that accompanied intimacy.

There is no way to reconcile two lives in one person. The ancient teachings of the Yoga Sutras have not taught me to live a double life. They mention neither second helpings, nor vending machines. The addict’s kryptonite is hidden within the journey towards that seemingly elusive abstinent life. I tell myself that sometimes, when the food voice is loud again.

Then, I visualize Savasana or the final resting pose. Comfort always returns eventually, what a novel idea.

The other day in our morning class, my quads were getting tired of acting like warriors. Pete noticed and came over to me: your quads are aching, he said. Yes, I thought, waiting for the relief cue. That cookie of a reactive measure. Breathe, is all he said. I didn’t have to do anything. And the pose, feeling, and yearning to act have long since passed me by.

 

~

Relphant read:

Embracing Body Self-Acceptance.

~

Author: Rachael Boley

Editor: Travis May

Image: Flickr/Flickr/MotokiPlasticboystudio

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