Elimination Diets of the Body, Mind & Spirit

Boundaries are virtually everywhere, and yet we often completely miss how overstepping our own internal boundary can have painful consequences. Our very cells exist from the enclosure of one definite cell being distinguished from another. The word boundaries in my definition is like knowing how much you can eat before your tummy starts to feel upset, or rather knowing way before you even feel upset. And yet, so many of us literally bite off more than we can chew! In my many years of working with individuals looking to reclaim their lost sense of self and inner voice. I have identified several key components in reclaiming our lives and effectively realizing the signs to watch out for when overstepping our own boundaries.

My own clarity on boundaries came initially from my complete and utter negation of my own personal boundaries. I recall a time in my life when I was spinning out of control involved in more activities than the hours in the day allowed for. No matter what I tried I just could not care for myself in the way that I needed to. It was that feeling of knowing you should do something, but not having the inner strength to actually do it. I knew I should take better care of myself, and yet because all the wheels (regardless of how worn out they were) still sort of kept on moving I too continued this hectic spiral out of control.

At the time I was the ‘go to’ person always saying “yes yes” way too quickly and leaving out “No” for fear of losing out, disappointing others, or because I somehow felt like I was impervious to the laws of physics. Whatever the reason may be, I seemed to be overly responsible for ‘others’ coupled by an unreasonable expectation that somehow others should be better at managing my time. This was in contrast to me taking my own initiative by igniting my own voice to clarify what was worth my time. Instead I often found myself stretched way too thin and pointing the finger of blame towards others around me for taking up too much of me. As if they should all know how much is too much, and would just back off, and yet whether I say that out loud or to myself, I know that is a completely ridiculous want to want. It’s essentially wanting others to take responsibility for how we feel. “Please do not ask me for _____ because I don’t want to have to say no, so you should just know what’s right for me’. And if you do in fact give it, don’t blame the person who asked as if they should somehow empathically know what’s in your mind or what you are capable of giving. What I began to deeply realize is not how others should be more aware of my limits, but truthfully who on this planet is more adept and aware of what I am capable of giving and doing, than me? Coming to that realization felt like this real, grown-up marker that most of us just don’t want to reach out and accept. We’d rather just float through life as if in the womb, getting our needs met and responded to, trusting that like in the womb, we won’t overeat or over-exert ourselves, and everything will be provided for.

Back to that time in my life when I felt that I personally wasn’t able to protect myself, I somehow was guided (thankfully) and figured out a way to press the pause button to regroup and just be with whatever little was left within me. I signed up for a 1-week silent meditation retreat. Within a few short days, I started to feel an ease and lightness emerge within my being. It was as if I was a dying thirsty plant running around feeding all those around me, and completely neglecting how thirsty I was myself. At the retreat through those days of utter silence, stillness, and just being with myself– I found myself easily filled up once again with the nourishment of being with myself without going outside of myself to attain anything. I felt so good. I felt so present. I started to smile just from the very joy of being.

When I would come back to ‘the real world’, that feeling was swiftly and easily erased, and the thirst of being with my own inner being was back. However, this time I started becoming more aware of just how these seemingly harmless ‘things I would do on a day-to-day basis’ were actually contributing to much of my unhappiness. For instance, it would be as small an act as answering a call I truly did not want to answer in the first place, or attending an event I did not really want to attend. These daily and even smaller moment by moment actions started bleeping on my radar as I become more aware of what I truly felt like doing versus just merely doing as if on autopilot.

Noteworthy point:
Are you aware of how you actually feel about doing something before you do it?
If yes, does this change whether or not you still do it?
If no, are you able to become aware during the activity if it is something that feels good or not?

In an attempt to figure out how one starts on the path of going towards ‘what’s right’ and learning to heed the signs towards one’s own inner guidance. I fell back on a trusted method I had used years ago to figure out what in my diet was hurting me and what was nourishing me. It is called an Elimination Diet. I find there is nothing more effective than going to ground zero to slowly build back up again to uncover what actually works for oneself. This ground zero of utter silence and being with myself at the retreat had taught me that taking away much of life’s noise was actually so beneficial, that happiness would naturally arise.

And yet, the seduction and compulsive nature of engaging myself beyond the point of healthy maintenance was so overwhelming that I would watch time and time again my hitting my absolute lowest point only to pick myself back up again. Even now, my lowest is not nearly as low as I used to go, and so although I feel I have made some clear progress I am aware that it is all relative and that each of us can always benefit from examining the ways in which we tend to ourselves and the areas in our lives that we often neglect that can contribute to much of our unhappiness.

Sometimes in order to start the journey back to ourselves and back to our health it may often be first instigated by falling. From this painful position if we can cultivate questions that lead to more expanded awareness this is the start of opening up more and more internal connections that will then be the light house we seek when we once again lose our way.

Below are some questions to begin to become more curious about the state of one’s actions:

1. Why am I so afraid of putting up the necessary boundaries?
2. Why am I still expecting others to respect my boundaries, even though no one but myself can truly know my boundaries?

Then afterwards I turn toward positive affirming statements to check in how ready I am to truly make a change, these could include some of the statements below:

1. Am I ready to say yes to myself even if it means saying no to others
2. Am I ready to act more lovingly and listen to my signals more clearly.
3. Am I willing to take the first step towards what feels good even if it means saying no to others.

Writing this out definitely will illuminate that this process is best not outsourced because who knows the inner liquid levels of your inner thirst better than you? No, we are no longer in the womb, no longer completely engulfed by the knowing placenta that is all-providing. At this day and age, we are the only ones who will ever get close on riding that white horse towards gallantly saving ourselves.

All of us are now thrown into a world that is constantly asking, demanding, distracting, engaging, seducing, and much more on a moment-by-moment basis. If I had to be really honest, since I had the opportunity with the elimination diet of the mind, I would say most of us are engaged WAY beyond our capacity, which is primarily why we are emotionally in a place that I would describe as not ideal.

Speaking for myself, when I would leave these retreats that I started to go to once a year, I would notice that even a short conversation with a person was an immense amount of energy exchange that on a regular day-to-day basis we take for granted. But on the retreat, whenever we would get reintroduced to speaking, I recall so often people would literally tear up, or have their heart rate increase. And granted it’s probably the most stimulating experience they’ve had all week compared to a silent meditation retreat, but still I find it fascinating that something we regularly engage in and dismiss is something we should just be more aware of — which is, we are quite sensitive beings, and other beings can greatly impact us. And the truth does not arise by how much we do, but perhaps by how uncomfortable most of us feel without really connecting the causes and effects.

We are quick to write ourselves off almost immediately and say ‘well I’m just anxious, I’m overwhelmed, I’m too emotional.’ But do we ever take a step back and perhaps survey the situation and say, ‘hmmm my ears are ringing… perhaps the music is too loud… and it’s not because my ears are easily overwhelmed.’

I’ve definitely started doing that in my life, and I’ve gained invaluable insights into the workings of my inner being as I’ve grown exponentially to understand my likes and dislikes minus all that self-blame and judgment as if I ‘should enjoy hanging out with everyone’, or somehow every activity should be a match for me. I’ve gained so much information about what works for me through utilizing curiosity instead of blame and shame that although the process is not over it is more manageable as I have new laid out paths that now work for me when I find I get lost.

Since then I have unearthed the divine feeling of just being with myself and how much more I actually simply enjoy that. If that means I’m not as social or that not as many people call me, then that is okay with me. I find that I have needed less people in my life the more of an active role I have taken up within myself to be present to me.

This may look totally different for you, but the compass is always the same “what feels right for you” will literally be translated to:

On the right path: feeling light, excited, open, smiling, feeling pulled towards it.
You’ve stirred off again: tightness, tension, feeling closed off, uncomfortable, heavy, feeling like you want to run in the other direction.

These days, my first go to boundary when I’m feeling my cup hitting the below acceptable levels — instead of escaping to a meditation retreat –I turn away from my phone and all the myriad of communications and connections that go along with it. I know this one is probably at the top of the list for most people, and so feel free to try this out for size.

I will choose one day of the week to spend a day phone-less where I am just with myself — no talking, no unnecessary anything. And I trust that naturally that will start to refill the emptiness I feel inside with what naturally is always pouring within each and every one of us — the source of love, energy, life.

No one is any more or less deserving than we are right now, right here, to completely immerse ourselves in this life – force – energy. It is abundant and available to us all.

All we must do is receive — be completely open, available and receptive to this energy. I have felt it time and time again on my meditation retreats, and it wasn’t so much what I was doing that made me feel this incredible way; it was more what I was eliminating and not doing that no longer blocked me from this abundant flow that was naturally and has probably always and will always continue to flow through me and within me and within all of us.