I eat too much too late at night. Sometimes it’s because my teaching schedule has thrown my meal schedule off, but more often it’s because I’m restless and tired and have a refrigerator in my kitchen.
I know I shouldn’t do this; it just makes me fat, and besides, my qigong teacher Dr. Guan-Cheng Sun says the stomach and other “bag” organs need periods of being empty. But I haven’t been able to stop.
However, perhaps there is hope for change, hope in the form of qigong.
In my last post, about an insight I had on the negative thinking that is part of depression, I cited the following passage from Dr. Sun’s manual for Level I Yi Ren Qigong:
“It’s easy for the mind to lie and have illusions, but when the body begins to be aware, it can actually correct the mind’s misconceptions. This is one of the key points of Yi Ren Qigong practice. When a person becomes more energized and as the awareness of the body increases, the body will start revealing that person’s mental habits.”
I think this passage also applies to an experience I had several days ago with a salad I should have forsaken.
I ate the salad between 8:30 and 9 p.m. It was enormous. It had chunks of fresh-picked carrots, tomatoes and cucumbers from my garden, along with a bit of red lettuce and some kale. The kale was the parts of leaves the cabbage worms had apparently deemed too tough to eat, and the lettuce came from plants that were rebounding from a rabbit attack and knew they were older than they looked.
The salad was so jam-packed with phytonutrients that I made myself eat it even though it taxed my teeth and didn’t taste very good because it lacked decent dressing. It filled me but didn’t content me, so I nibbled until I went to bed.
When I awoke during the middle of the night, I had the feeling of pall, of emotional malaise, a feeling I often experience when I get up to go to the bathroom during the night. I term this pall “la nausee,” after the French title of Jean Paul Sartre’s existentialist novel, which is about angst, not tummy aches. But this time it occurred to me that maybe my malaise wasn’t actually depression; maybe it was good, old-fashioned indigestion.
Do I some times or many times confuse a physical condition with an emotion? Are my stomach and brain connected such that tummy malaise and emotional malaise are one and the same? I asked Dr. Sun about this.
His take was that once the stomach has been energetically awakened, it takes responsibility for what and how much you eat. He said my experience was a sign that as a result of my qigong practice, my stomach was awakening and beginning to communicate with my mind about my dietary practices.
So, like the manual says, maybe my body really is coming online and beginning to reveal my mental habits, including my persistent notion that at the age of 72, I can eat as much as I like as late as I like and then sleep peacefully through the night.
I won’t lie and say that I have conquered my late-night eating habit, but I am, gratefully, a notch closer to doing so. I can hardly wait….