The Way of the Bear

1.  Allow yourself to eat whenever you are hungry, without judgment and without worrying what other people will think.  Enjoy your food.  Eat what you want most.  Stop when you are satisfied.  Pay attention when you feel the urge to eat and can tell you're not hungry.  Listen to what your urge to eat is telling you about what you don't want to think or feel.  Sit with any anxiety that you feel.  This will help you make peace with the past.

2.  Declutter your home.  Keep only the things that you currently use or enjoy.  Throw out or give away everything that makes you feel anxious, unhappy, or burdened.  Watch yourself when you find yourself wanting to acquire something new.  Is it something you need?  Is is something you particularly like?  Or is it something that you think having will change your life in some significant way (e.g. make you feel more beautiful or loved or safe), but in fact will most likely just become more clutter?  Sit with any anxiety that you feel.  This will help you make peace with the future.

3.  Work on something important three to five times a week, one to two hours at a time.  Set a timer or clock and concentrate fully on what you are doing.  Watch yourself when you feel the urge to distract yourself or "take a break."  Use this time to practice paying attention to something other than yourself, allowing yourself to be penetrated by the object of your study.  Sit with any anxiety that you feel.  This will help you make peace with the present.

4.  Purposefully practice sitting with your uncomfortable feelings.  Question them for what they can teach you about what is upsetting you. When you are disturbed by an uncomfortable feeling, think of yourself as a falcon, frightened by a loud noise and wanting to bate.  Sit with yourself gently as long as it takes to identify what has frightened you.  Let yourself feel the anxiety without trying to do anything about it.  This will be hard: you may want to eat.  You may want to buy something.  You may want to distract yourself in some way.  Pay attention to your desire to bate.  This will help you make peace with your anxiety and to recognize it as your teacher and friend.
5.  Practice taking proper care of yourself.  Eat foods that are good for you.  Keep yourself clean and well-dressed.  Take breaks when you are tired.  Get enough sleep.  Exercise without beating yourself up.  Meditate (see no. 4).  Pray.  This will help you make peace with yourself--and with God.


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