Here are my highlights from the Prologue and Chapter One of this book.
To my seasoned eye, weight loss is a frequent by-product of creative recovery. Overeating blocks our creativity. The flip side is also true: we can use creativity to block our overeating.
Believe it or not, writing is a weight-loss tool--overlooked, underused, and extremely powerful.
What if words can be consumed instead of calories?
Everyone knows that we overeat because something is eating us. What if that question got asked directly, routinely, every time we ate? What if, struck by a Snack Attack, I said to myself, "What's eating me that I have a sudden craving to eat:" What if I took a moment and jotted down my feelings? What if I gave myself food for thought instead of food itself? Since we can use food to block feelings, why can't we use words to block food? Calories, after all, are units of energy, and so are words.
In the twenty-five years I have taught creative unblocking, one of the tools I routinely teach is daily morning writing.
Students often come to me pudgy and depressed. I tell them to write. A steady diet of self-reflection soon regulates their overeating. Pounds begin to drop away. As the Morning Pages work to metabolize their lives, they no longer overeat to block their difficult feelings.
Laura was the kind of woman of whom it was routinely said, "It's a shame she's so heavy. She has such a pretty face."
The survivor of a violent childhood home, Laura had learned early to block her feelings with food. Writing her daily Morning Pages, she began to face her turbulent feelings. As she did, the urge to block her emotions with food began to melt away.
"My Morning Pages were gripe sessions where I saw and worked out my grudges: Once she found out what was eating her, she no longer needed to overeat.
When a Snack Attack hits, you can take yourself to the page instead of to the refrigerator. When you do, your creativity will respond with an increased flow of insights and ideas.
"It was right on the tip of my tongue," we often say when an idea eludes us. What we don't realize is that ideas often do live right on the tip of our tongue--and that we drown those ideas when we overeat.
Our emotions become known to us.
In this book, we are specifically focusing on food as a blocking device--and on writing as a means to weight control.
What I can promise you is increased clarity, increased energy, increased productivity. As you write, you will lose weight and gain creativity.
As you lose weight, you will stop waiting for the magic wand that will transform your life. Instead, you will realize that the magic wand is actually a pen and tha, pen in hand, you can transform your own life.
You literally hunger for a more satisfying life.
Chapter 1 - The First Tool: Morning Pages
You will write three pages every morning, a practice that I call Morning Pages. They are to be strictly stream of consciousness, no "high art" here.
Any style at all will do. So fret, gripe, worry, scold--or celebrate.
Your job is simply to get down on the page whatever it is you are.
What you are doing with your pages is something that in 12-step parlance is called "getting current." You are out to catch up on yourself, to pinpoint precisely what you are feeling and thinking.
Morning Pages galvanize our days. They prioritize them as well. Writing Morning Pages, we begin tgo see that each day is made up of myriad "choice points" and that we have a great deal of freedom to choose exactly how we will live.
Too often we have touched our feelings and recoiled as from a hot stove. We have been angry and felt our anger was taboo. We have been sad and turned to some mindless television to ignore it. We have even turned to food when we felt joy. Any intense emotion can trigger a Snack Attack.
Writing Morning Pages, our mindless lives are behind us.
"The junk food I am eating leaves me hungover," we might write.
Morning Pages sweep the house of our consciousness.
A day at a time, a room at a time, we remake our environment. Now our apartment looks like someone with self-worth lives there. And someone with self-worth is struggling to be born.
Once we target a problem area, the pages are quick to suggest solutions. We are not trapped, pages remind us. We always have choices. Sometimes those choices are difficult. We may hate our job but love our salary. Pages encourage us to take accurate stock of our situation. Perhaps, for right now, the job is worth all its aggravation. We can choose to leave or we can choose to stay. Pages help us to sort our options.
I have come to think of Morning Pages as an effective form of meditation--especially for hyperactive Westerners. Most of us have a hard time with conventional meditation. It is very difficult for us to sit calmly for twenty minutes.
At first on the page and then in our lives, we begin to get things straight.
"My extra pounds were a barricade I placed between me and my freedom," he realized.
Morning pages point us in the direction of our growth.
Morning Pages teach us what we like--and what we don't like. A line at a time, they move us closer to our authentic selves. In Morning Pages we stop hiding. We come out into the open--at least on the page. "I'd really like to try. . ." we write--and then we try it. Dreams long deferred move, step by step, into reality. We discover that as we move our hand across the page, a Higher Hand moves across the surface of our lives. For many of us, pages are a spiritual experience as we make contact with a Power Greater Than Ourselves.
"The pages became for me a source of companionship and strength. I began to think of them as my personal spiritual practice. They kept me on track and gave me an even keel."
For many of us, an even keel is elusive. We long for stability but we do not know how to find it. Pages may be the first effective form of mentoring that we encounter.
"I think I learned my lesson," Alan now says. "I need the honesty and self-reflection that Morning Pages afford me. I am not a spiritual man, but I seem to be living now along more spiritual lines. I find I like it."
From the front of the classroom, the transformation that Morning Pages causes is almost startling. Even after two and half decades as a teacher, I am still struck with wonder as people seem to change right before my eyes. I call the process "spiritual chiropractic" as changes are made in exactly the direction that they are needed Overeaters curb their binges. Undereaters begin to eat more regularly. From the front of the room, the increased health is readily evident. And "all" they are doing is writing.
Much to their surprise, people et happy when they write.
Emotions long avoided become familiar. Perceptions become clearer. Boundaries begin to fall in place.
Morning Pages are a route to happiness. For many people that happiness is expressed as weight loss.