I live in Boulder, Colorado. As many of you may know, we’ve had some intense wild fires here in our beautiful state. Homes have been burned, lives have been uprooted, and for sure, many people in the community have worked hard to protect one another. Several years ago, a fire in this same part of the country came within 100 yards of my home. Needless to say, I took note. This time around, with the fire much further away, I noticed a strange, uncomfortable force that seemed to be impacting everyone:
The fire was cooking us all.
Normally we think of fire as the magical entity that does the cooking for us – it makes our food palatable, keeps us warm and fuzzy, and looks really good when you’re out camping and have nothing better to do than toast things that don’t really need toasting.
It’s time to give fire it’s due. If you’re like most people, you’ve had times in your life where things have gotten a little hot. I think you know what I mean. We can all agree that when we say, “the heat is on,” something in us and around us is about to change. In the tradition of Alchemy, the adept must go through various stages of challenge that lead him from his lowest self to his highest, most luminescent one. And many of these stages involved the element of fire. Fire purifies us. Fire burns away that which no longer serves us. The heat of the fire makes us more pliable and flexible so we can grow in the direction where the wisdom of Life is calling and crafting us.
Study the process of wound healing, and you’ll note that there’s a very specific phase called inflammation. Whenever you get a cut, a wound, or have a surgery, there’s literally a biologic fire that engulfs the site of the wound. A unique cascade of chemical reactions causes the tissue to become red, hot, and inflamed. Interestingly enough, this phase of inflammation is crucial and necessary to the healing of the boo-boo. In other words, healing is preceded by fire. There’s no way around it. Even if you can’t stand the heat, you still have to stay in the kitchen.
So, think of your life.
Consider all the times when you took a leap in consciousness, when you grew a bit, transformed, or simply became a better person. Chances are, to make that quantum leap, you went through some intensity. It might have been a divorce, a death in the family, a challenge with your parents, a drama with your kids, a bozo at work, or maybe your bank account took a hit. You were going through the fire.
Of course, if you’re like most people, including me, when the fiery stuff comes our way, I want to call the fire department to hose things down. We might put out the fire with overeating, binge eating, obsessing about food, distracting ourselves with worrying about weight, or obsessively trying to be perfect about this or that. We suppress the very fire that would have us grow and heal when it finally subsides. It seems like the right thing to do at the time, but it shortcuts our evolution.
As far as I can tell, when we truly welcome the fire, we’re allowing for the thing we want most. Liberation. Freedom. The burning away of everything that isn’t me – my goofy habits, my crazy thoughts, my emotional toxins, the unneeded poisons and waste in my cells, and all the old stuff that just needs to be torched out of existence so the real me can victoriously emerge. It’s easy to forget that chaos often foreshadows personal breakthrough. Birth can look pretty intense if you didn’t know what it was. If an alien from another world where live birth didn’t exist saw a woman lying in the street giving birth, it would look and sound like a horrible bloody screaming mess. Our alien friend would likely be shocked and phone home for some help. But you and I would know that something magnificent was really about to happen.
So remember this the next time you’re being cooked in the oven: Vitamin F, fire, is our friend. Can you welcome it?
Can you endure the heat without running away, or putting it out with food?
We spend a bunch of our time as the one who does the cooking. We cook and we eat. But I think we need to remember the Cycle of Life. Sometimes, we’re the meal. We’re the ones being served. You and I are spiritual food for the greater, hungry, cosmic whole. Yes, the world really does eat us – this will eventually be our fate. I apologize if you didn’t know this. The sum of your life will be as food for the grander life that created you.
So, if you’re really interested in nutrition, make sure your life isn’t junk food, so to speak. Make it count. Be a Super-food. Be super-natural. Be clean, be whole, be fresh and crispy, and like any good organic food, you don’t have to look perfect. Just make sure that you have real value and you taste really good. It’s what’s inside that counts.
I’d love to know your thoughts. Do you use food to try to put out the fire when life gets too intense? And what are the healthy strategies you use to navigate discomfort and challenges?
My warmest regards,
© Institute For The Psychology of Eating, All Rights Reserved, 2014
Founder of the Institute for the Psychology of Eating
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