After reading The Universe Has Your Back, I’m sharing thoughts on the relationship between faith, The Universe, love, control, fear and intuitive eating. Hey guys!
The hubs is sick in bed this morning during our first day in Hanoi so I’m taking advantage of the downtime here to write on the blog. I had plans of writing weekly travel recaps while I was here but someone unpacked my external hard drive (we’ll cut said person some slack though because he’s not feeling well) after I packed it and it houses all my photo software. And travel recaps sans photos would be pretty darn boring. So, Im going to write a couple Mindful Monday posts instead.
I brought three books with me to read during this trip and the first one that I finished last week had a huge impact – Gabrielle Bernstein’s The Universe Has Your Back. I read Gabby’s May Cause Miracles a couple years ago and really enjoyed the exercises in the book to engrain choosing love over fear in your day-to-day thoughts and decision making. But with time the reminders faded and The Universe Has Your Back was a great reinforcement for messages of spirituality, faith, hope and love.
The Culprit of Control is Fear
The premise of the book is putting faith in a higher power (The Universe, God, Buddha, whomever or whatever you believe in) to transform the way you live and the way you see the world. I’m not going to get into my religious or spiritual beliefs here but I’ll just say that I struggle with my faith and I’ve gone through phases of my life where I’ve felt more connected to a higher power and phases where I feel like I’m walking through life on my own. Faith and hope and trust don’t come easy to me – I have to work to cultivate them. Perhaps it’s because of my nature to want to control outcomes, to always be in the driver’s seat, to know what’s coming next. Having faith in a higher power puts someone or something else in the driver’s seat and you have to let go of that control. This has always been a struggle for me.
But what I know from my own life experiences and from reading Gabby’s book is that control is essentially a fear-based mechanism. In life, we have two choices. We can live out of fear or live out of love. When we try to control our outcomes, perfectly plan out our lives, we’re operating out of fear, worrying about the unexpected or the less desirable outcome. And while controlling can feel “good” in the moment because it makes us feel safe, it’s what we know, it doesn’t fill our souls with positive vibes, it ultimately makes us feel kind of shitty. Because we’re not vibing with The Universe. We’re not opening up our hearts to a higher power. We’re closing them off.
How Do We Let Go of Control
To let go of control, we offer things up to The Universe (or your higher power of choice). We pray. We meditate. We ask the Universe for signs. I’ll give you a recent example of how this played out for me during my travels. I learned this trip that I suffer from horrible jet lag. I experienced it in Thailand too a few years ago but I thought it was the product of many things: jet lag, first time traveling across the globe, being away from Steve, just being laid off, traveling with two work friends that at the time I wasn’t super close with. I thought it was insomnia/anxiety, etc. Well turns out that the same symptoms crept up again after arriving in Ho Chi Minh City, this time with Steve, employed, comfortable, etc. I couldn’t eat dinner the first night here – they brought out fish and I literally had a gag reflex. I forced myself to eat some rice and morning glory just to manage to get some fuel in my body. I was super sensitive to smells, holding my breath as we walked out of the restaurant. I was retaining water all day, only peeing during the night, which also meant not sleeping very well.
This lasted a few days until finally around the fourth day here I started to feel back to somewhat of a baseline. It also rained the first four days of our trip, making matters worse. I was in a perpetual negative state. My mind kept racing, why did we come here? I made the wrong choice, we shouldn’t have spent the time and money to come here. This doesn’t feel right. This can’t be right. I’m miserable, etc., etc., etc. Downward spirals on repeat.
The book helped me to offer this up to The Universe. I would meditate. I would pray. Affirming with The Universe that I know we are here for a reason and I know the jet lag and the rain are supposed to teach me something. I asked for its guidance. I asked for a sign. The thing with the Universe though is that you have to be open to receiving its guidance; otherwise, you will never hear it. If you’re stuck in a negative state or a controlling state, good luck finding it. The sign that I asked for was a dragonfly. Gabby mentions it in the book as a friend’s sign and I bought these beautiful little tea cups in Saigon with dragonflies on them so it seemed fitting. For two days straight, I searched high and low for a dragonfly. Nothing.
And then something shifted. We landed in Laos. Finally, I saw mountains. Greenery. A small town. No big buildings. No honking. No fluorescent lights. My heart opened. I felt whole again. I was open to the workings of The Universe. And what do you know, as soon as we arrived to our accommodations, a dragonfly flew onto our balcony and stayed there for a moment, just long enough for me to notice it and feel the flood of support and love and guidance from the Universe and to thank the higher power for letting me know this is exactly where we were meant to be. As soon as my heart opened up, as soon as I stopped trying to control our situation, I was able to connect to a higher power. Connect to Hope. Faith, Trust, whatever word resonates with you. I knew that The Universe had my back.
Intuitive Eating and The Universe
Dieting brainwashes us to feel the need to control. With dieting, we control our food choices, we control the timing of our meals, everything is planned. There’s no checking in with our bodies to see what we need. There’s no room for flexibility. It’s. All. Controlled. Even with eating disorders, it’s not about the food, it’s about something greater, often the need to control when life feels particularly out of control. So, it makes sense then that when people first try intuitive eating, it feels uncomfortable and awkward because you have to let go of the need to control. You have to learn to trust your body again. This is where The Universe (or a higher power) can come in. Offer up this process to a higher power. Pray. Meditate. Ask for guidance. Ask for a sign to let you know that you’re on the right path. Trust that this is exactly where you are supposed to be right now. Have faith that your weight will eventually stabilize to your natural weight, which is different for every person. As Gabby says, know that obstacles and setbacks along your journey are “detours in the right direction” – they too have a purpose. See your setbacks as opportunties to learn.
The next time you’re in a downward spiral of negative thoughts, doubt, fear, shame or guilt about your eating, your body or your weight, catch yourself, forgive the thoughts (don’t beat yourself up for being in a downward spiral) and change the story. Bernstein refers to this as the Holy Instant and recommends to use this prayer/affirmation, “Thank you, Universe, for guiding me to perceive this fear through the teacher of love.” Remember you can change the story from a fear-based story to a love-based story. When you find yourself caught up in negative emotions, use the Holy Instant and talk to yourself the way you would talk to a loved friend or family member who is suffering. Show yourself compassion and comfort and love. Open up your heart to the process of intuitive eating. Invite The Universe into your experience to help guide you along the way. Because as Bernstein says, The Universe has your back.
How have you received guidance from The Universe (or a higher power) before? Has it helped you along your journey to heal your relationship with food?