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Recovery and Rehabilitation

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Progress update

Here's what's been happening since my first post (See: Things are moving along quickly...). I continue to do SDA several times every day, and take a "look" when I feel moved to do so.

Overall, and this is hard to put into words, it seems as if something is "loosening," like barnacles breaking off an old ship hull. There seems to be less strain, and no more need to do what I think I "should""¦I'm just letting things unfold instead of pushing myself. No judgment. If I don't take a shower today, so what? I'll take one tomorrow. If I have a stack of laundry I didn't get to, it's all right"”the world is still turning. I'm less anxious, and when anxiety or fear rear their ugly little heads, I do SDA and they back off.

In addition to SDA and occasional looking, I also find it very helpful to quietly say to myself from time to time: "I'm not my life, I'm not my body, I'm not my thoughts."

I've had some insomnia, but it doesn't concern me. I think it's because I'm caught up in the amazement of this powerful secret, and that it will settle down at some point.

I'm more content with things the way they are, even though I'm still housebound. I've stopped struggling against my chains, you might say, and am generally somewhat more at ease.

Interestingly, I've had an awakening about what I eat. For years, I tried to follow various diets: macrobiotic, vegetarian, vegan, raw fruits/vegs, blood type, and on and on. I felt I should be a vegan at some point, because it was the "purest" thing to do. I no longer feel any of that and have discovered that I really need to eat more protein (chicken, fish, eggs, etc."¦not sure I want to go back to red meat because it kind of grosses me out). Since I went back to eating this way, I'm starting to feel physically better and stronger and I'm not hungry all the time. Not saying this is for everyone"”we're all different"”but it seems to be good for me, and I'm convinced I saw this as a result of doing this work.

That's it for now! smily

Hi jazzrascal, I'm glad to hear you're progressing and less anxious. I can relate to what you say about diets. I've tried all sorts of vegetarian diets, too, from raw and living foods to just not caring at all about what I eat. Interestingly, recently I've found myself going back to the "pure", or maybe more rational approach to food. But without the compulsion of saving myself through diet. Just asking what's the best, healthiest diet, as I feel there's more space now around what I eat and less addictive-like compulsion.

My investigation is kind of rational curiosity combined with working with my eating habits, partly separately. I feel I have more patience with my habits and behaviour. I've come to the conclusion that our collective eating and food culture is as corrupted with fear-based habits and traditions as any other field, say politics or spirituality. I'm not sure if science is the ultimate best guide to what to eat because it's reductive by necessity, but there sure is a lot of research going into what to eat and what's best to avoid. Others, like yourself, go with the intuition, which I applaud, because our needs are different. I try to combine the two.

I myself have gone from being obsessed with protein (as the current trend is) towards low(ish) protein, plant based whole foods (I don't call it vegan, though ), minimising animal foods (Dairy and eggs in my case. I think of animal foods as fat, not protein. I'm not sure, but most of their calories come from fat? All the same, both contribute to satiety). It's exciting to find that I can actually progress toward what I (currently) believe to be optimal, learning from science-based material around the web and books. There's a lot of differing opinions and views around, all backing their claims with a this study or that. You just have to pick your position and investigate, see how you feel. Perhaps it's the novelty of the freedom from obsession that makes it exciting. And like you, I believe the freedom comes from doing this work.

Hey Seppo and jazzrascel, I too am (was) obsessed with food as salvation and drug. I used it both ways to some pretty miserable conclusions for years. I agree, Seppo, that food has lost its power and I'm able to follow intuition and knowledge to find a good balance. I follow a plant-based diet as well, but without the sweaty devotion and analysis/guilt this entailed previously. I wonder if we simply don't have different needs based on where we are in recovery or life, as you both suggest. It's nice to be free from the tyranny of food (I like the parallels you make with fear-based anything, Seppo: politics, spirituality, etc.); it's devotion and dogma. I am about to put this freedom into practice and go out for a burger.

Love the discussion.

Hey Seppo, we're also having conversations over on the JOL Facebook page. On there, if you post in the 'comments' section, it comes up instantly. https://www.facebook.com/groups/justonelook/ All the very best, Lex

I had my Facebook page deleted years ago. I miss it for this kind of discussions and groups, though.

I'm not over my food addictions. Not all the tyrants are gone. Eating is just about the only pleasure I can still feel, and it feels kind of scary to denounce food as distraction, relaxation and stress relief. But some kind of development seems to be going on.

Surprisingly, I was able to get over my block to painting and have been able to dabble with my oils over the past few weeks, with no pretty results, but still. I've been happy about this development. Another result of recovery working it's way. I kind of knew it was coming. My thinking is that perhaps I rediscover my pleasure at painting and it will assist in leaving intoxication with stimulating foodstuffs behind. But as I've said before, I'm not awfully concerned about it most of the time. Things will follow their natural course. Perhaps SDA is the only thing I can do, or otherwise work with my attention.

We all die whether living healthy or not, but since painting is "old man's game" as David Hockney has said, I'd like to live long and healthy enough to produce a couple of decent paintings before the end.

Jackx, I hope you enjoyed your burger. Jazzrascal, I wish you'll be unchained from your condition soon enough.


I've tried all sorts of vegetarian diets, too, from raw and living foods to just not caring at all about what I eat. Interestingly, recently I've found myself going back to the "pure", or maybe more rational approach to food. But without the compulsion of saving myself through diet. Just asking what's the best, healthiest diet, as I feel there's more space now around what I eat and less addictive-like compulsion.

Hi, Seppo,

I was fat all my life, and in retrospect I see that it was always driven by the need for protective swaddling.

And even after the looking had killed the fear, the habits of mind that it had sown persisted for some time. Keep in mind that we were still in the beginning of our work of understanding the looking and its nature, and we had not even begun to work with SDA yet.

By 2007 or 2008, I weighed something in the neighborhood of 250 pounds. I was seriously overweight and deeply uncomfortable in my body.

Then Carla and I spent some time learning about human weight problems and food.

Long story short, we decided to eat fresh organic food that we cook ourselves (some of it we grow ourselves), and we cut our portions to half of the recommended amount.

It didn't take long before we began to see the results not only in weight lost and a general sense of well-being, but in our overall approach to food.

We never looked back, and we have the same dietary standards today. Keep in mind that our new relationship with food has not brought with it an experience of loss of the pleasure of good food; to the contrary, we love good, healthy food more than ever.

As I write this my weight is 125 pounds, and has been stable for years now.

With your growing facility in SDA, you should have little if any trouble looking into the facts of food, and creating your own plan for getting better at feeding yourself in a healthy manner, and following through on the project.

Hi John,

Thank you for the encouragement.

I never would have guessed you had trouble with your weight. Your story about food sounds like a success story (like your story with smoking) all the more incredible as it's not a result of forcing oneself to an ideal, but a natural unfolding of the mind growing healthy. If only there was a TV documentary series of following people who've done the looking and the change in their lives thereafter.

I guess some things persist longer into the recovery, and perhaps there is a reason for it. I trust there's an intelligence of kind in the workings of it. Plus a change always comes with a bit or work. I never had the swaddling and have been lean most of my life (I lost a few pounds after going mostly plant-based, and I've been stable since) but sweet treats have been my drug. Alcohol has been a no-no to me for most of my life because of my interest in health and "spiritual matters". In fact, I started drinking more alcohol after doing the looking and after losing my interest in rescuing myself through those. But stimulating foods elevate me for a moment (a few times a week, currently) especially combined with a good book or a movie, and makes me forget dreariness I still often feel about life. But there is a growing confidence that it won't be a problem forever. Even the quality of the problem is different, it's less of it, a kind of puzzle mostly. I can't stop being amazed by this confidence. I haven't cultivated it and I have my doubts, very often, but the confidence persist, despite my skepticism.

I've already had the re-awakening to facts of food for a few months. Not only to what is deemed healthy, but to what seems to be nicer to other creatures and the state of the planet. But I can clearly see the traps people fall into when they feel the need to confirm to various -isms about food and how the facts then get twisted. Michael Pollan's succinct advice on proper eating is one of the best: Eat food, not too much, mostly plants. My plan is still int works.

I've also noticed the pleasure that proper food gives. It's different from the pleasure trap of foods for escape, of over stimulating kind of pleasure. The problem seems to be that so far at least, the habit of pleasure seeking has won due to its overpowering nature, though less frequently of late. I tend to think we are in this trap because we don't experience satisfaction about life you talk about. It's a kind of pleasure, too, but vastly different. I experience glimpses of that satisfaction, out of the blue, in day to day life.

I get thrills about the prospects of having a command of my attention. I think it's mostly my imagination so far, but what a difference in life it would make! It's amazing to think about. I also like very much what you hint at about us having just begun with SDA, or looking, as more and more people get in to it and explore it in their lives. It's an exciting prospect.

I have fallen into natur eating style, in fact I call it being on the 'natch', for some time now. This plant based diet with little or no processed foods or animal products used to be such a struggle. I micro managed every bite and felt guilt and shame when I fell off the wagon. It did have aspects of salvation. Now I just do my best and it is kind of effortless. I feel so much better as well. I did enjoy my burger! No guilt, no self pity.

I do think there here is another dynamic for me. I have noticed that sometimes I crave feeling bad. It was my set point or homeostasis for so long, there is this natural pull downward to this feel and drinking beer and eating bad food will get me there quicker than anything. When there, there is a weird comfort in the bad feeling. When this happens now, I'm puzzled by it, wondering why I'm in this state and why I 'chose' to get there. It doesn't last long and I can easily get back on track these days but still........

the Michael Pollan quote is a favorite of mine as well, Seppo.

Be well.

It's interesting how very alike our experiences of eating and changes in it while recovering are. Choosing to feel bad also...Feeling bad feels like a sigh of relief, coming back home after too much of a good thing. Maybe because the familiarity of indulging and the low afterwards is relaxing while the new is still taking hold, our bodies and minds not yet fully settled into the new, so you'd need a break? Or just the remnant of the old acting up?

I have this idea that I can indulge in these habits as long as they persist, because they'll be gone soon anyway, and at the same time I feel it's wrong for the body. There is a mixture of confidence and regret.

I would like to add that the purpose of SDA is to gain conscious control over your attention, which is the natural state when the fear of life is gone. You do it to strengthen the muscles of your attention, so to speak. When they are supple and strong, control of your attention becomes natural, just an aspect of a self-reliant life. Then the SDA practice is not necessary anymore; refocusing of attention happens naturally.

I still find it hard to project anything else to my future.


That might be a good thing, since any effort to project anything anywhere is born from the residue of a fearful mind. There is nothing you can do now to hasten the falling away of the damage done by fear but to begin, and stay with, a disciplined practice of Self-Directed Attention, and see it through to the end.

The goal of SDA is not to become good at SDA, but to become skillful in self-reliant-life, a skill that was crippled by the damage done to your attention by the fear of life.

The purpose of this practice is to return to you the simple skills of being human by leaving behind the empty spectacle of misery and confusion.


I think that pointing out that attention exercises are time limited is a good reminder. I find this to be true as well, Carla. I don't need attention exercises as much anymore. I do use the breath counting when I wake up at night and can't fall back asleep, but fortunately my spate of insomnia seems to be gone for now. I also use them situationally if I am in a stressful situation. It seems the stressors are external these days and not internally generated as the habits of fear lose their momentum. I let my attention find its balance without much thought about it. Sometimes I drift and need to refocus, but this has happened all my life. I do find that when I need to focus I can and that I am much less avoidant of thoughts or situations I find uncomfortable.


"I mean, if you have been truly freed, why would you continue to attend meetings, read spiritual literature, and seek solace in meditation?"

You needn't--eventually. The thing of it is that when the fear is gone, the fear never was. So eventually the relevancy of anything to solve a problem you don't have fades away.

That the resort to further teaching, after just one look, is a waste of time is noticed by this question. Once this so called context of fear is broken, it simply cannot be put back together again. So do we skid to a halt quickly our reflexive momentum or do we bang all the way down the lazy way to the end. Either way, as you have looked at me you are sane.

Good posts, Paul. Good question by John. It's one I've noticed spiritual seekers aren't comfortable with. There's always that trip to India if nothing else works......I've saved a lot by not buying books.


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