Dry July- Tapas Practice and how I beat my Sugar Monster

I know that in the past I have written a lot about how people can really get far too hung up on the whole detox thing in the Yoga world.. And how ego hangs out in the detox mentality… as well as Ego’s best mate ‘Self Loathing’.. That said this is a Yoga website and what kind of Yoga website would it be without a blow-by-blow account of one such detox?

So 5 weeks ago I decided it was high time to get back into my Tapas practice. And I picked sugar. To clarify- I decided to quit refined sugar in the form of sweets, biscuits, chocolate, cakes, sauces, and also alcohol.. Some people get really into it and quit fruit too but to be honest I don’t feel that’s really necessary unless you are very diabetic or fighting candida… So I have 2-3 pieces of fruit a day anyway, apples, pears or berries. Fruit has sugar in a natural fibre-wrapped package which is digestible and won’t lead to a slump, so really.. don’t worry about it..

I did an awful lot of reading around sugar. There’s a lot of sugar- free websites out there. And you know what? It turns out that going sugar-free is a lifestyle. A way of life. Because sugar is insidious. Its everywhere and it’s accepted. That you’ve had a hard day is the perfect reason for cheesecake. Chocolate is sexy and sugary desserts are slightly pornographic.

Lets get something straight- refined sugar IS delicious- especially in the form of supermarket desserts and cakes. Not to mention truffles and chocolate bars. A lot of scientists get paid an awful lot of money to ensure this is so. And we are all victims of it. Chocolate especially feels like a treat- a respite. I have always been a big fan of chocolate. And I have always been quite envious of people who can eat a couple of squares of chocolate and then move on. Because I can eat 200 grams of the stuff without feeling sick. And did you know that this can give you a sugar hangover? This feeling of puffiness, the slight yellow tinge to the eyes- a sure sign that your liver is struggling..

And of course all that sugar means your body pumps out insulin in response to cope.. And insulin is so very good at its job that it goes over and above the call of duty and leaves you even more hungry….. Craving guess what? MORE sugar………….

This past 5 weeks I spent a lot of time observing the people around me- observing how we are with sugar. How angry people get if you question sugar intake.

Sugar can be used as a glue. Sugar can be used as a type of cement. What I learned in this past few weeks from my own experience is that sugar can keep you stuck. When theres things you don’t want to face, well, they can hide in sugar. Like that old saying ‘The Devil’s in the Details’ all kinds of issues can potentially hide in sugar consumption. Because sugar masquerades as love. The world is a tough place. And we ache so much of the time. Its no wonder really that we want to anaesthetize ourselves and we don’t even know we’re doing it.

So I gave up all sweetness for a few weeks in the form of refined sugar… And the same old things kept coming up time and again.. Mostly how the present was overwhelmingly NOT want I wanted. As if I wanted to exist in the abstract which is so very much what sugar and alcohol consumption supports.. The here and now is not what you want, so cushion the reality with sugar. Take yourself to a safe space unsullied by the actual..

When you go to the pub how often is that first drink a release? A release from how you have been living all week? A release as you can let the barriers down and be you again… A release from compromise and a release from that nagging truth that you have been putting all your life force into someone else s agenda- not yours- for 140 hours of your precious life this month, a life that you are selling all too cheaply… When your present existence is not what you truly want, well no wonder you crave alcohol, no wonder you crave sweets,.. It removes and releases you from responsibility. From carving your own way in a world that mostly feels difficult….

Alcohol takes you to a twilight world. A world of your own making where you are the hero. And it works collectively too. You can share that world with your drinking buddies and allow their heroic alter egos in too. So you all become bigger, better, braver and brighter as you swap your stories of things you could do, things you would do, things you should do. But never do. Because the minute you drag those ideas out of  their beery ether and into the actual the logistics all get too much. What if the reality doesn’t work? What if you get humiliated and lose? What if people laugh as you fail? Alcohol preserves your dreams intact and keeps them safe. Just as recesses of the Natural History Museum has labelled jars of animal remains preserved in alcohol the recesses of YOU has its own jars of pickled dreams also.

And this past few weeks I truly saw my own conditioning. And experienced my ego whispering to me “Come On, its been a fortnight, have some sugar, have a drink…. Being attached to tapas practice is egoistic too you know…..” Like Iago in Othello whispering to me constantly, finding reasons NOT to grow… And then I had to face the truth that I would rather have a glass of wine and watch The Princess Bride on DVD again than acknowledge mundanity. And I keep on having to work and I still fall down a lot. My ego also enjoys the whole tragic heroine/misunderstood victim thing a whole lot more than it enjoys change… and hard work… Ego loathes change.

And so I stuck to my Tapas. I had no refined sugar. I had no alcohol. I felt things I really didn’t want to feel and I made it through a festival too, sober and sugar free. There were some days when I felt so sublime, like golden flames were rushing through my body making me invincible. And I had some moments when all that flowed though me was pure love, pure joy. A moment where I walked down Sheffield High Street and became one with the sunlight, one with the wind, and had never felt happier. And a couple of days when I had never felt sadder or more wretched. When I simply missed all the people I have loved who are no longer around. Mourned my dead. And one night when I sat up listening to the rain and the wind beat down on  the tent I was in and I listened to all the old voices on the hard drive of me. Everyone who had ever told me I wasn’t all that. That I was useless and couldn’t have what I wanted. I heard them again, and without a shield, let them go.. You see without your habits to act like polyfilla in your cracks all those old voices are so much more audible. I didn’t have the best time at school but I truly thought it was over and done with. I didn’t realize I was still being dictated to by a bunch of spoilt teenage bitches, but I heard them again. And understood.

The word tapas is related to ‘taper’ I do believe. Burning away aspects of self. it’s a fiery practice. At the end of the day the universe doesn’t care if you have a KitKat issue. And its not about morals either. But examining your habits and changing them really does free you up. And we are so very judgemental of what those habits are. My teacher used to talk a lot about this and ten years ago it didn’t make much sense to me. But now I understand that in order to grow you must dismantle yourself. Recapitulation.

So this last few weeks I learned to notice when I eat the feelings away. And interestingly, just as smokers miss the ritual of smoking, I missed tbe ritual of sugar. The hunger, the anticipation and the gorgeous sugary cushion of satisfaction. And I learned that when you eat no sugar you don’t feel hungry in the same way…….

And strange how I missed the hunger. And I also got blown away with the emotions that came up. How angry I am so much of the time. Angry at myself or the world in general. How whenever I date someone I tend to pick drinkers, and I wonder why that is? Is that me giving myself permission to hide away again? I have an odd kind of respect for cravings of all kinds. And drinkers, a lot of the time, are sensitive people and that’s got a lot to do with the issue in hand.

Tapas practice is so very valuable. Forget trying to be perfect, its not about that. And that’s so boring anyway. Tapas is coming back to you. Tapas is honesty. Tapas is learning. Tapas is dissecting and scrutinizing your personality and where it came from. And then lovingly forgiving yourself for all the shit you put yourself through.

My month is over. And interesting- no big chocolate cravings now…….


One Response to Dry July- Tapas Practice and how I beat my Sugar Monster

  1. Sugar-Free David October 24, 2013 at 11:37 pm #

    “At the end of the day the universe doesn’t care if you have a KitKat issue.” So true!

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