Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Same same...but different

I’m having a very odd experience. I’m reading a book which, in a completely different way and in a completely different context, is saying exactly what Audrey and I have been writing about in our new Overeating book for the past year! The book is called ‘The Book of EST’ by Luke Rhinehart. It’s a fictionalised account of his experience of the EST Training, which is now called The Landmark Forum. I haven’t done the training. I don't know if it's good or not. Before I picked up this book I hadn’t heard very much about it at all. I knew of it’s existence and I know some people who have done the training but hadn't really talked to them about it much. That’s about it. And last night as I started the book I was amazed - that first chapter describes a process which is exactly the same as the process Audrey and I have been writing about on how manage the desire to overeat - admittedly in a very different (very, very different) way! In fact the approach couldn't be more different in some ways - confrontational, provocative, harsh, blunt… where we tend to be compassionate, kind, gentle. The ‘Trainer’ who runs the course calls all the participants ‘ASSHOLES’… repeatedly, when he addresses them. Not quite the way we do it at Beyond Chocolate! But the intention behind the approach is the same. The goodwill and care, the genuine passion for offering us tools and ideas to have a more satisfying experience of our everyday lives, to experience our lives, to engage with our experience, rather than being on automatic pilot, living in our heads and acting out old patterns, day in day out... it's all there - without any attachment to being right or to knowing anything. They don't want to change us or fix us. We are invited to engage with the experience and you get what you get. And whatever you get is just fine. That's just the way we see it at Beyond Chocolate. We don't purport to have the answers, or to know best or to be right. The invitation both in The Book of EST and Beyond Chocolate, is to engage, TUNE IN to recognise physical sensations, describe emotions, catch the thoughts, the quality of the thoughts, the incessant babble of beliefs, rules and truths we live our lives by.... it's all there, if you are willing to see it. The challenge is to be aware, to wake up to our experience to stop being critical and nasty to ourselves and to stop trying to hard to change! No, change is NOT the objective. The aim is transformation. (Subtle but very important difference - I love the definition given in the book "...It means for us in this context something like 'transubstantiate' or 'alter the substance of' your ability to experience living" .) Starting from knowing that we are fine just as we are. Nothing to 'fix'. And there's another similarity with Beyond Chocolate - our strap line, before we wrote the book, never mentioned weight loss or yo-yo dieting, out strap line was simple - Transform your relationship with food and your body (subtext... transform your relationship with yourself, with life!) and we'll be going back to that strap line very soon! So, what may appear in The Book of Est to some readers as insulting and gratuitous rudeness seems to me OK, even useful. I wouldn't choose to run workshops that way but I can see that it might serve a purpose.

Essentially the first chapter is about how to stop resisting or running away from our emotions, the scary ones, the messy ones, the ones we feel uncomfortable with or situations, people, whatever we tell ourselves will be difficult, the things we think we can’t do, can’t face, can’t manage… All the reasons we overeat. It’s about recognising just how many beliefs we have about just about everything - in our case particularly about eating - and about ourselves and just how little experience we have of what we do and how we do it! When we are willing to BE with our experience, to welcome it, to experience it even more fully, rather than stuffing it down with food, numbing ourselves to it, avoiding it at all costs… it magically disappears. Really. It honestly feels a bit like magic (that's where the Fairies and magic wands come in to Beyond Chocolate, there's just a little touch of magic!!) It sounds crazy and I definitely invite you NOT to take my word for it! In fact don’t believe me, don’t think about it, DO it, have a go for yourself, have the experience. Don’t try to do it or think about doing it, or try to work out why it works or how it works... actually do it, just once… and see what it’s like. If you feel stuck, if you've been yo-yoing with your weight for years or if you've been yo-yoing with Beyond Chocolate for months or longer... have a go. This is the key. As you might have realised by now I am finding this book very interesting.

Our Overeating Ecourse describes the process is minute detail and takes you through it step by step and if you don’t do ecourses or it’s too expensive for you or you just doesn’t appeal to you, then our new book will be out soon (hopefully Jan 2012) and it will all be in there. In the meantime, I recommend the The Book of EST, it has me gripped.

1 comment:

  1. I did the Landmark Forum a few years ago and although my weight wasn't a particular issue at that point, I can see how the training would dovetail with Beyond Chocolate: over the three days, we were asked to NOT drink alcohol, take any kind of recreational drug or even headache medication - the idea being that instead of suppressing the feelings we were experiencing with any kind of "painkillers", we felt the feelings instead. And oh boy, that was hard - but it really worked.
    Having said that, I then went on to do another course which was basically a big advert for more courses and it all kind of fell apart. But that first weekend was very special, and thinking about it reminds me to put the "painkillers" away (yes that's you, buttered toast and bars of chocolate) and tune in ...


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