Religion & Beliefs

Blogging the Cleanse #3: Dukkha Day

Well, today was harder. Dukkha day, they'd call it on a meditation retreat; the "day of suffering" when the initial thrill is off and the hard work really begins. My dukkha day started early — around 5:15 in the morning, … Read More

By / April 24, 2007

Well, today was harder. Dukkha day, they'd call it on a meditation retreat; the "day of suffering" when the initial thrill is off and the hard work really begins. My dukkha day started early — around 5:15 in the morning, when I woke up dehydrated and couldn't get back to sleep. You really have to drink the lemonade all the time; if you don't, you pay for it sooner or later. In my case, I just wasn't thirsty after about 8pm last night, so I didn't drink — and it came back to haunt me with pre-dawn nausea, aching, and general lousiness. I did get back to sleep around 7, but had to be up at 9 for a conference call, which didn't go so well either.

Now, my (even thinner) body aches, and I have started to get cravings at the mere mention of Entenmann's Louisiana Crunch Cake (I saw some boxes of it at the Rite Aid where I was buying more Spring Water… mmm, processed food). But at the same time, I have really enjoyed moving more slowly, noticing the limits of my body. I can't jump down the subway stairs two steps at a time. I just can't carry that much. And it feels good to just sit around.

I also really have appreciated, in a bourgeois-tourist sort of way, what it is to be nourished, and to be hungry. Walking down the street this morning, I felt a wave of gratitude for this lemonade, which really is a lifeline. In the Jewish tradition, we have all kinds of gratitude-practices for food — blessings before and after, dietary laws, special recipes — but it often takes a lot of work to really feel the emotions behind the ritual. But when you're hungry, it's easy. Of course, I understand that this is a privileged, touristic visit to the world of hunger; unlike people who are actually starving, all I need to do is open my fridge and eat some of the veggies rotting inside. I'm not claiming I really know what it's like to not know where your next meal is coming from. But there is still something to feeling, literally in your bones, that life hangs by the thread of this little bottle of liquid. Somehow that is easier, more tangible, than some more abstract and diffused notion of "I depend on food for my existence," or blessing God for providing sustenance.

I also learned today that I'm more disciplined than I give myself credit for. I recently counted a total of seven different careers that I'm trying to pursue at once. I have trouble saying no, and staying on task when Microsoft makes it so easy to alt-tab to something else. But on the listserv of the group of us doing the cleanse together, one person admitted she'd cheated on her cleanse by eating a donut, and another said that he was changing his plans entirely. (To be fair to the donut-eater, she'd been victimized by police harassment at the Empire Roller Rink in Brooklyn; the donut was a quite forgivable consolation.) I realized that, short of a serious health problem — which I thought I might've had this morning — there's almost no way I'm going to break the practice to which I'd committed. It feels good to assert some control. Of course, I'm aware that assertion of control is one of the reasons psychologists say many people begin eating disorders. But this feels more benign. I'm on a journey, one whose end is not so far off, and despite the allures of Louisiana Crunch Cake, I'm glad I'm sticking with it.

 

P.S. I don't really like Louisiana Crunch Cake that much. I just saw it in the Rite-Aid.