Kinneret Yoga Teacher Training CourseSummer 2011 Eckhart Tolle describes Eating & MindfulnessWho is Eckhart Tolle?Eckhart Tolle was born in Germany in 1948. He is most famous for publishing The Power of Nowand A New Earth, which have been read by millions. His teachings are a collection of spirituallytransformative insights that are universally applicable in daily life, relationships, and one’srelationship to the world.Eckhart describes himself as depressed for most of his life until a suicidal period at the age of 29.He describes a particularly vivid moment where he was lying in bed, in despair about his life, whenhe had the thought, “I can’t live with myself any longer.” But this thought gave rise to a question.“If I can’t live with myself any longer, who is the ‘I’ that ‘myself’ can’t live without?” The answerpropelled him into a process of spiritual insights that he subsequently published and has resonatedwith increasing popularity worldwide. His teachings are non-religious, non-affiliated observations ofthe nature of presence.What are Tolle’s main teachings?In order to understand how Tolle approaches the subject of healthy eating, we must first understandhow Tolle approaches the subject of all uncomfortable moments, situations and sensations.The primary action at any point of discomfort, Tolle describes, is to focus attention on the feelingitself. This attention must be directed to precisely the point or trouble that is bothering me.I can choose to accept this feeling for what it is, exactly as it is. It is not wrong or right, it is beyondwrong or right. It is, it exists, and at this moment it is present within my being.I can choose not to put my effortful mind on this feeling. I can choose not to empower theuncomfortable feeling with more thoughts and more feelings, which is a way of increasing its power.Instead, I choose to observe the feeling as it is.I withhold any judgment or identification with the discomfort as a part of my deep self. I am notthis feeling, and this feeling is not that which characterizes or identifies me. ‘Me’ is somethingtranscendent, spiritual, and completely outside of the realm of the body or any senses. This feelingis something that will arise, and will therefore pass. I will not identify this feeling as meaningsomething about ‘Me’, or my character, or my potential to succeed, or to be loved by others.I choose to stay present. I am the observer of what is happening inside.Practice staying present as discomforts arise and then fall away. I will begin to discover that my trueself, my deepest self, is unchanged by temporary sensations of good or bad, right or wrong. What ismy deepest self is something Good, permanent, and not identified with any form. It is that which
observes all that happens to me in the world, all that I give to others, and all that I accomplish in mylife. It doesn’t fade or diminish with failure. I can choose to attend to these moments withpresence, and therefore cultivate my ability to be in tune with this eternal aspect of my ‘Self,’ mytruest self, at every moment.What does Tolle suggest about eating mindfully?Tolle applies these principles in a modified form to eating, and adds a few observations on currentculture and the subsequent thoughts that accompany eating.The sense of self has come to be identified with one’s physical appearance in relation to others.Whether one is ugly or beautiful, fat or thin is the object of huge importance to the mind in thecurrent cultural paradigm, and has come to be identified as part of the self. Often, the beliefs in themind about the body are not in line with reality of present awareness of the moment. From suchdistortions, diseases like obesity and anorexia can occur.How does one eat in present awareness?Focus on the feeling of wanting to eat. Notice the feeling going on inside you, and whether it istruly hunger, or it is something else. Anger, loneliness, tiredness and boredom are common reasonspeople eat. They are actually trying to fill an empty space inside, and are not actually aware of thenourishment the body is asking for. Try to be present in the current moment and truly attune toyour bodys feeling.Accept the feeling for exactly what it is. Do not try to add to, or take away from the feeling. Donot try to judge the feeling, or to feel guilty about its existence, or to put other thoughts or conceptson its existence.If I decide the feeling is hunger, I eat. Don’t lose presence. The presence process can be undergonein every moment. Often people look at a plate of food as a goal, something that must be emptied.But this doesn’t have to be the case. I can at any moment attune to the inner feeling of the bodyand discover if I am full or not. I can choose to give my body more food if it is asking for it, or, if Ibecome conscious that it is not, I can choose to calmly be present in the moment and situationaround me. I need not ‘finish’ or ‘clean’ what is in front of me from my plate.Notice when the feeling of hunger passes. Honor it.What about Judaism?Rabbi Pliskin, author of Love Your Neighbor and Gateway to Happiness, writes specifically that a personnever has the obligation to eat when he is full, even if he is a guest and his host offers him food.A person should eat mindfully of his health and for serving HaShem, and not for other reasons suchas anger or sadness. Doing so is likely to lead to more negative feelings and a poor self-image.