Hey everyone! Reverend SASSY SHORTS is here and I am listening. Listening. To what? To this very moment. I invite you to join me. . .
For years, my closest friends have observed, sometimes with admiration, sometimes with polite impatience and sometimes with amazement – that I am the slowest eater EVER.
I remember when I began that habit and it was definitely an intentional choice. A conscious way of being.
Growing up, prior to age 16, I was skinny as a stick, twiggy-like. Then I started growing, and my mother feared that I would start growing wider, not just taller. I remember the moment that I developed a complex, an unnatural fear of being fat.
As a result, I ended up going on more than 20 diets between the ages of 16 and 19, in the city of Miami, Florida, bikini-ville, central. Dieting was a popular thing to do and a regular part of every woman’s conversation – friends, cousins and aunties included. It was the air we breathed. And hopefully that air didn’t include calories, as it might in front of a bakery.
Age 19, my Aunt Ruth told me about a book that changed my life. It helped her cousin lose a bunch of weight and keep it off. The book was called Fit for Life by Harvey and Marilyn Diamond. Harvey and Marilyn taught me how to honor my body and enjoy the process of eating my food. No more calorie counting, no more obsessing, no more torturing myself with compulsive eating.
Food became a blessing after that. What I ate, where it came from, how one food blended with another, how much energy a particular food combination would take to digest… it simply made sense. Eating slowly came as a byproduct of my attention. And my joy. My attention was no longer divided while I ate, and I ate slowly because I savored each bite.
I never thought about this until just now, but I’ve just described a process of meditation which I enjoy leading. During Embodiment Meditations, a gentle gaze of attention is given to the breath, which is constantly moving in and out, in and out… the gentle gaze of attention expands to include the body… then the physical space… then the world. The gentle gaze of attention can include anything, including emotions, including tension in the body, including food, including others. What’s most interesting is that the breath, the body, the experience in the moment, often shifts and makes itself more comfortable.
This gentle gaze of attention seems to deliver a message to my subconscious that says, “all is well… enjoy yourself.” This feeling is sweet and kind and nourishing and it fills my cup from the inside. It boosts my immune system. And it provides an inner stability that allows me to give to others, to be present for others, to be receptive to others.
This generous and gentle gaze of attention is one of the kindest gifts that human beings can give to each other, and the thing I have learned most is that when we give it to ourselves first, we increase our capacity to give it to others.
Within the social context and conversation which is happening in the world right now, this kind gaze can offer us solace and strength when we need it most. The gift of this gaze is that it offers relatedness without agenda. It’s the opposite of perfectionism, it transcends race and it gives us space to be fully human.
This gaze is consciousness, and it’s an invitation to come home to yourself. It’s the artistic medium for creating an earth that feels like home for each other.
Thank you for being with me on this journey. Keep being present to you. You are a gift. Welcome home.
Reverend SASSY SHORTS!
Debbie Happy Cohen, author and coach, is the founder of Joy-Based Living. Her Master’s Degree is in counseling, specializing in family systems, healing emotional trauma, and practical spirituality. Also affectionately known as Happy D! and Reverend SASSY SHORTS!, she lives on Lookout Mountain in Alabama, near Chattanooga, Tennessee. Her books include Reach Your Stars!, SANCTUARY, It’s All About Kids: Every Child Deserves a Teacher of the Year, and I Don’t Think So! Her social media playgrounds as well as the SANCTUARY ebook can be found right here.