For about two years I was eating pretty much fully raw vegan. I was disciplined and committed. If I ever succumbed to eating roasted nuts or hummus, I’d get myself back in line by fasting the next day.
I learned as much as I could from the top pioneering raw foodists, and deep within me I knew that I had found the path to optimal physical health. Knowing on a mental level that cleansing my body and feeding it raw fruits and vegetables was ideal, I went ahead and started eating a fully raw vegan diet overnight (more about why I went raw in this article: The detox nightmare that lead me to Raw Veganism).
I went into the right direction a hundred miles an hour, just to face the reality several years later that not all of me was on board with the direction nor the speed..
There was an internal split within me.
The part of me on the driver’s seat was fixated on becoming that ideal version of myself. To have perfect health, to be focused, energetic, disciplined and spiritually evolved, all which it deemed to be a result of rigorous fasting and fruitarianism. I call this aspect of my consciousness the “high level manager”.
It’s a masculine, directive force that identifies where I need to go, it gets me moving in the right direction, and does what is needed to keep me on track. This aspect is concerned about growth and self-development. It is an organizing principle that strives towards perfection of the highest order.
However, the more I let this internal manager lead the way, the stronger becomes the background noise that says “I’m tired, I’m hungry, I want pleasure, I need comfort, I just want to relax.” This is what the manager would disapprovingly categorize as the fat, hungry monster.
Usually, we tend to judge the part of us who resists our attempts of self-improvement, as the BAD one. It’s the PROBLEM. “If only the fat, hungry monster didn’t exist, I would be a perfect human being”, we say. So we fight it and we try everything to get rid of our desires for comfort foods.
It is the grip of this monster that started pulling me back. I started sneaking roasted nuts during the day, only to feel bloated and disappointed later on. I would eat cooked food in the evening only to wake up feel clogged up and hungover in the morning. I hated the monster.
The moment that I gave in.
My eating routine had become a constant tug of war. Craving for cooked foods, resisting it, then sneaking some roasted nuts in between meals (I literally sneaked as if I had to go behind the manager’s back to not get caught), then fasting the next day, then eating a curry the day after.
I was very familiar with Parts Work (Internal Family Systems) and had already done tons of inner work regarding this issue. I knew that I was eating for comfort, for emotional relief and to lower my sensitivity, and I was finding alternative ways to meet those needs.
By this time I had come to understand that the monster was representing an inner child in me, who was coping with certain emotions and social situations. Despite knowing in detail what brought about the cravings, there was no progress, and the grip of this child monster was getting tighter and tighter.
I was so tired of fighting it that eventually, I gave up. I started buying my favorite foods for cooking. I’d make spicy curries with sweet potato and broccoli. I’d make pumpkin soup and quinoa salad. Every evening I would ask the monster what it would fancy tonight, and I’d make something that would satisfy its hunger.
I was making friends with my former enemy, the monster, which resided in my body and who ruled my emotions. Surprisingly enough, doing so felt good in my body, and I started feeling more grounded in physicality. I realized that I was lacking fire and density in my food. I stopped snacking random things because I allowed myself the pleasure of eating proper cooked meals. The monster child no longer felt deprived.
The body wisdom.
Curiously, coming from a place not resisting cooked foods, I feel that I have more freedom to move towards what actually feels good in my body. I feel that I am not resisting my physical urges, but I am listening into what my body is trying to tell me.
On a mental level, I know that a fully raw vegan diet is ideal for a human being, but I’m learning that life is not mental, it is sensual and experiencial. I cannot skip the learning curve that my being needs to go through to arrive at a place of true knowledge and wisdom. The wise say, “you can absorb knowledge from others, but to become truly wise, you need to learn from experience”.
So I’m learning to listen to my body, and my entire being very carefully as to what foods feel good in my body, how often and how much to eat and what combinations, rather than deciding that based on what the pioneers have said. I can listen to them, but then I must figure out whether this is true for me through my own body wisdom.
My soul’s inclination is to find this out by trial and error, by actually allowing myself take a step in the wrong direction, and only then I will actually be able to find what the correct path is for me.
I understand now why I was not making any progress despite all the inner work I’d done in the past on my food cravings. The catch was, I was approaching the monster from the point of view that it was the problem. No matter how much I observed it from different angles, I was doing it from a place of wanting it to change.
This did not and would never work, because what the monster needed was to be loved and accepted the way it was. The monster was never the problem, my arrogant and dismissive attitude towards it was the problem. The more I’m accepting the monster, the more I’m developing a healthy relationship with my physical and emotional bodies, which represent my physical, 3rd dimensional being.
In order to move towards higher dimensional spiritual ideals, we must bring our physical being with all its baggage on board. The trauma and the ancestral patterns live in the physical body, and cannot be surpassed, as they are an extension and a manifestation of our non-physical self. In fact, we do not want to surpass them, for our physical self contains the potential for pleasure, orgasmic bliss and the richness of life which we receive through our senses.
How to ease the tension.
If we know that a certain diet is optimal for our physical health, we can trust that our body wisdom will guide us there, eventually. We simply need to go at its speed and not rush our own healing. Trying to get rid of the cravings might cause us to disconnect from the body, which perpetuates separation and is the opposite of unity and integration.
What we want to do instead is to create an intimate connection with our physical and emotional bodies, so that we can hear at all times the needs of the monster child, and we can attend to them with love and care. As we listen into our bodies, we will become more receptive to its signals and will be able to start recognizing what feels good and what doesn’t.
This is totally individual! The goal of any form of spiritual mastery is to regain our self-authority and wisdom within, which guides us towards what serves us in each moment. We do not need, and should not depend on any teacher or pioneer to tell us what is right or wrong for us personally.
They may serve as inspiration and way showers, but that’s as far as we should ever follow anyone. We must use our own inner knowing to choose our path, and if we go astray, nothing can sway us again because the knowledge of what does or does not serve us lives at our very core.
Right now, my body wisdom is telling me to avoid any processed food, to eat plenty of fruit and dark leafy greens. It’s guiding me to eat sesame seeds and occasionally cooked sweet potato and broccoli. It is also asking me to do regular, short fasts, and to move my body. I can feel that the time is coming to move more in the direction of a fully raw diet, but it will never again be a mental decision. I will never again do it from a place of dogma or harshness towards myself.
I let the monster lead me there, even if the path it chooses may not be the shortest one. The biggest lesson of my raw journey has not been to overcome my cravings, but to love myself fully, the way I am right now. Even if I never become that ideal version of a human being, I still deserve my own approval, love and acceptance, with all my imperfections, here and now.