Tag Archives: Fall

November | The Season of Food Begins!

Ah, that wonderful time of year after the harvest, when food is abundant and Thanksgiving begins a whole season of eating! Yet for us overfed and diet-obsessed Americans, the season of food can be a time of losing our tenuous hold on sensible eating habits and surrendering completely to more than a month of uncontrolled feasting on rich and sentimental comfort foods.


“But Mom only makes this once a year!” and “It’s only for the holidays…” we tell ourselves, and then in January wonder how that extra ten pounds got there!

If a little cheating on your sensible eating plan morphs into a month-long binge for you at holiday time, consider a different approach, an alternative to deprivation or binging, involving neither guilt nor denial; one that actually results in more gastronomic pleasure than simply eating everything in sight. The secret has to do with replacing quantity with quality and autopilot eating habits with an extra measure of attentiveness.

Conscious eating is all about waking up your taste buds to every sensory delight so that you don’t miss even a second’s worth of enjoyment by falling into unconscious eating habits. It enables you to enjoy your food more while requiring less to feel satisfied.

Binging happens when we’ve stopped paying attention. We may enjoy the first bites but then keep eating to recapture that first moment’s gratification even after the food is no longer delivering. We may eat for reasons other than hunger, to fill an emotional void or to stuff painful feelings. Binging also happens when we’ve developed such a long-term habit of restrictive dieting that one taste of something not our food plan sends us into an out-of-control eating frenzy where we consume enough to hold us through the long drought of deprivation that invariably follows “cheating.”

This holiday plan calls for a softer (in the kinder, not fatter, sense), gentler you. It involves putting down the whip of guilt and discipline and easing up on food restrictions while simultaneously paying more attention to the whole experience of appetite, craving, and satiation. It entails eating exactly what you want exactly when you want, thinking of all foods as equally “good.” This isn’t permission to binge. Rather it’s a challenge to go out of your way to feed yourself exactly what you really want even when eating what’s readily available would be easier. It’s about treating yourself to what will give the greatest possible eating pleasure instead of “treating” yourself with whatever great quantities of sugar and fat happen to cross your path.

This approach isn’t for everyone (and please don’t substitute my suggestions for your doctor’s counsel), but if it’s appealing to you, consider devoting the holiday season to making every eating experience a conscious one where you eliminate as many distractions as possible, like TV, reading material, and eating on the run, in order to savor every bite.

Make eating a meditation: before you put anything in your mouth, become quiet and relaxed, take several deep breaths and say to yourself, “Everything I eat turns to health and beauty.” You can do this even at the holiday table with family and friends. Especially with family where the temptation may be strong to stuff down childhood feelings with another serving of pie. Disconnecting a bit inwardly and putting your attention on the food, your body, your nourishment, and the experience of pleasure can help break the knee-jerk, stuffing-family-feelings-with-food habit.

As you take a moment to be with your food before you consume it, picture it being easily assimilated by your body and turning into health and beauty. Eat slowly, paying attention as you chew and swallow. Stop the minute you feel the first sensation of fullness. If you’re full but can’t stand the thought of leaving all that yummy food on your plate, ask for a doggie bag. After eating, sit quietly for a moment, relax, and take some deep breaths. Imagine a feeling of comfortable fullness and lightness in your body. Imagine that your stomach is filled not just with food, but with peace and well-being that radiates soothing sensations throughout your body.

Don’t eat again until you feel the first sensation of hunger. Then eat immediately, but only until you feel the first sensation of fullness. Pay attention as you eat, chew well, and really notice how food feels in your stomach and what the sensation of fullness is like. Every time you feel hunger, ask yourself what food you most crave. Feed yourself the food or foods that are just what you want. You may find yourself craving previously “forbidden” foods at first because enforced restriction can, in and of itself, create cravings for whatever’s been denied but, as you eat consciously in this way, you’re likely to find yourself satisfied with much less. And, as you eat consciously but not restrictively, you may also be surprised by your cravings becoming more and more balanced. I once saw a perpetually dieting and vegetable-phobic woman, who equated greens with cruel punishment, astonish herself by craving salad after just three days of giving herself permission to eat whatever she wanted.

If you’re tempted to binge, create a healing ritual around eating one of your favorite foods. Set the table, light candles, and eat consciously, savoring each bite. Imagine the food having marvelous healing powers that are making you healthier and more beautiful. Continue eating this way until you feel the first sensation of fullness. (Again, you’ll probably find yourself eating less and enjoying it more.) End by giving thanks for your healing food.

If you do catch yourself eating unconsciously, forgive yourself. Notice what the binge is telling you about your emotional needs. Forgive the eating and address the cause. How are you feeling empty, angry, sad, or scared, and what can you do about it?

After all, the holidays with all their frenetic activity, social obligations, and childhood associations, are prime time for exacerbating emotional eating. As you make a commitment to conscious eating, also make a commitment to self-care. Make a list of other things you can do to nurture and soothe yourself that don’t involve food and give yourself time to do them when the urge to overeat arises. Let conscious eating become just the beginning of a more conscious approach to the holiday season where the frenzy of it all doesn’t override the spirit of celebration and joy.

Seasons of the Self—August

Now that we’re well into the summer season, it’s easy to see the steady subsiding of daylight. Yet, while the ebbing of light reminds us that fall isn’t far away, the warmth of August is still all summer. This month is a time of fulfillment: everywhere we look, gardens are producing a perfection of ripening crops and burgeoning flowers. Soon it will all be gone but now nature is a feast. With the darkening of fall so close and the heat of summer so present, more than any other season, this late summer month urges us to appreciate the moment, to “be” rather than strive; to live in the fullness of what is and be grateful.

pieraugustI always experience a kind of stillness about this time of year. The expansive growth of spring and summer has spread outward nearly to its limit and in August everything seems to stop for a moment as energy, set all in one direction for nearly half a year, approaches a turning point. In the creative process, it’s akin to the final completion of a project, right before the empty let down that precedes the beginning of the next one. By contrast, stillness of late winter is a time of living empty and pregnant with possibility right before bursting into new growth. August is a time for living full right before it all ends.

Chinese medicine relates this time of year to “grounding” and digesting. It’s not enough to work hard and produce a successful metaphorical crop. For health and well-being we also need the capacity to be present in the moment, in touch with the earth around us, and able to take in and digest the fruits of our labor. We need to be willing to receive.

Receiving is a key, yet often overlooked, aspect of empowerment. It’s easy to become so fixed on the goal and the process of achieving that we forget to be receptive. We may even unconsciously deflect what we most want without realizing it. When we often feel burned out, that we’re doing too much alone, that our efforts are greater than the rewards and we’re somehow missing out on the joy of life, we may be forgetting to receive.

It’s an easy thing to forget. Our culture is so goal-oriented and, consequently, future-oriented that many of us have this tendency ingrained to some extent. We get to thinking that our happiness depends upon achieving certain external outcomes such as a successful career, lots of money, the perfect relationship or a nice house, and then we postpone happiness, doing whatever we have to do to achieve our goal, telling ourselves that we’ll get our reward later. And, while we may succeed in getting the external things we aim for, we may never receive the experience of happiness we were hoping for. By the time we reach one goal we may have already formulated the next one and skip right over the joy of having arrived because we’re so focused on how far we still have to go.

Receiving isn’t simply about accepting what we want when we want it, on our own terms. I’ve often seen people think they have no problem with receiving—it’s just that what they want hasn’t shown up yet! These folks are often holding out for the big prizes they’ve set their sights on while deflecting dozens of small gifts each day. I tend to think that God will only give us as much good as we can stand to receive and if we refuse or ignore the small gifts, we won’t be burdened with bigger ones!

If life’s big gifts are eluding you, ask yourself these questions: When you see a nickel in the street do you pick it up and feel richer or do you pass it by, wishing it were a $20 bill? When someone compliments you, do you appreciate it and say thank you or do you look away, make a joke, and say something self-deprecating? If someone offers to buy you lunch, do you graciously receive it, automatically refuse it, or accept it but feel uncomfortably indebted? When you receive presents, do you enjoy them or are you hard to please with gifts? Is your mind so busy with thoughts of what you’ll have to give back in reciprocation that you don’t feel much pleasure in the receiving? When someone offers to help you, do you gratefully receive it or insist that you can manage alone? (Do you assume you can manage alone more easily than with help?) And, when someone loves you, do you feel blessed by this most precious gift or do you retreat in fear? Do you find the love of only a specific few to be valuable and fail to appreciate the many others who care about you?

If you’re starting to recognize in yourself some of these signs of poor receiving, you’re far from alone, but this is the perfect time of year to begin a new habit. This month, start noticing that there is always something to receive from life. Make a point to recognize all the large and small gifts that come to you and receive them fully. Keep a written account of them. Receive each gift as gratefully and openly as you can, letting go of any of your usual methods of refusing or ignoring God’s gifts. The more you cherish what’s offered, the more you’ll find yourself attracting what you most cherish.

And the next time you walk out of doors, take a moment to just give yourself entirely to the sensations of temperature, breeze, smells, and colors. Breathe deeply and let yourself fully experience the pleasure of the moment. If your mind needs to chew on something, simply repeat over and over a phase such as, “I am overflowing with the richness of life.” Making time to pause and appreciate life’s simple gifts may very well help you recognize and open to other quality-of-life experiences that have been passing you by. Enjoy!


The Miracles Course Fall Quarter | Audit the first class for free! | Closed—Registration for the Winter Quarter will open soon

The Miracles Course is now accepting students for the Fall Quarter.
Audit the first class of the Fall Quarter for free on the topic of:

Understanding the Language and Purpose of Illness
An online class with Lynn Woodland
Why do we have the symptoms we do? Learn how to alleviate painful symptoms and support healing by listening to the messages our dis-eases have for us.
Wednesday, September 7, 7 PM Central Time.
Attend on your computer or phone.

Fall: The Healing Journey | Register to attend the first class of The Miracles Course’s Fall Quarter



In fall, The Miracles Course curriculum begins with an exploration of physical health and spiritual healing, including a powerful ritual for miraculous healing. Also addressed in this season are topics of death and beyond, flowing with change, transcending fear and letting go, all of which lays the foundation for the spiritual transformation of the winter.


In September, the fall equinox marks the point at which darkness exceeds light for another six months and as the light fades, so does the lush growth of summer. In this transitional time, we may want to cling to the last vestiges of summer yet know we can’t keep the dark and cold at bay for long. Change and letting go are forced upon us, ready or not, and many of us catch colds in this season as our bodies struggle to adjust. September, which merely hints at the darkness to come, is the perfect time to prepare for the descent into winter by shoring up our physical well being and cultivating our power to heal.


As fall deepens, nature shows us her “dying” season. In areas where seasons are dramatically distinct, nature goes out with flashing glory before winter gives the landscape a rest. We humans are a bit more apt to go out kicking and screaming. Even if we don’t give much attention to death, even if we think we don’t fear it, death anxiety often lurks beneath the surface wearing any number of disguises that may look like fear of change, fear of endings, and fear of losing control. More people die in the darker months than any other time of year. Even when we resist consciously, we know instinctively that this is the time to let go. What if we also knew there was nothing to fear?


The spiritual work of deep fall draws us into the dark, shadowy underworld of our fears: death, loss of control, and all things denied or repressed. Just as the growing light of spring urges us to reach high for our dreams, fall’s darkening compels us to reach deep within, emerging with wisdom, power, and a life no longer defined by fear. It’s a profoundly healing journey—one that brings us face to face with our shadow and, ultimately, rewards us with many previously hidden treasures of Self.

Enroll in the Miracles Course Here