A few years ago, in 2007, I was at a Vipasanna Retreat in Kolkata, India. One day, maybe day three of the impossibly arduous sitting meditation process, I had created a comfortable nest to sit in using six big, plush cushions. Vipasanna is hard core as far as sitting meditations go, with some sittings lasting two hours or longer, so every bit of pain reduction effort is beyond necessary. As I eased myself into the blue cushion nest, stuffing even more cushions under both knees to relieve the excruciating burn they were subjected to, the teacher/guruji called me up to him.
I clumsily clambered out of my comfort zone, and sat cross legged in front of him, marvelling at the thin single layer cushion he was sitting on.
“How is your meditation practice going?”, he’d asked me. “Okay”, I’d responded. “The cushions are helping me very much”. “Yes I see”, he’d said, eyebrows raised in emphasis, “but why so many?”. My own brow had furrowed into an unhappy question-mark. “Take them away”, he’d instructed.
In that moment tears had rushed to my eyes, taking me by complete surprise. Only later did I manage to forgive him, particularly since he’d also told me that I was carrying way too much weight on my body. “Maybe you go down to maybe 50kg for your frame, yes, acha? I help you”, he’d very generously offered. I took away the cushions, and ignored his offer.
But to my detriment. He’d had a point, sadly. Yesterday when I reflected on that case of the cushions that brought me to tears, I realised that it’s true, I do tend to pad myself with stuff. Food. I hoard food and hide it in my body. It’s a way of being for me, where I never understand how people can actually run out of toilet paper, or onions. I always make sure that I have enough. More. Than enough.
Why? Because I’m afraid there won’t be anything when I need it.
Why? Because I experienced deprivation as an infant (long story for some other time).
Why? Because I believed that I was unworthy of being given, and of receiving. Because I am unworthy of having.
Why? Enough with the whys please, I’m just learning that this fat on my body, is a symbol of worth for me. If I’m carrying this much fat on my body, it is a display of prosperity.
Who is it showing? The world? Me, maybe? Me. It’s showing me that I’m not all that bad because see, I’m not starving. It means I am worthy of being given, of receiving, and of having. Of keeping what I have.
But of course I realise that this is actually FALSE prosperity. Because it masks a fundamental sense of deep deprivation within. Deep down I’m actually skeletal in weight.
This false prosperity is the very one that got me into deep financial trouble. This false prosperity is a tightly woven nest that offers me false comfort, taking up all space in me, so that no amount of true prosperity could even slip through. This false prosperity is a precise manifestation of my fundamental belief that I am not worthy.
Fat and Debt.
But I know I am worthy. I know that. The sense of freedom I wrote about yesterday is exactly an indication that the deprivation self is losing her grip on me. I am not going to be host to this fat, this false prosperity any longer. Nothing has changed for me physically or financially, but I know that I am incontrovertibly abundant. The task now is to communicate this immutable truth to my self, so she can let go, remove the cushions, and embrace prosperity in all her forms. I am worthy of being given, of receiving, of having, and of keeping.
It’s Friday afternoon. Now I long for a glass of a well aged, smooth but assertive Bordeaux.
Bloody Lent! (Sorry sorry!)