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Dealing with the Dark Night

Help! Food Cravings are Overwhelming....

Dear All,

I just finished up a 60-day retreat at Panditarama in Burma. I ended the retreat with incredible food cravings, overeating on several occassions in the last couple of weeks, causing a lot of misery.

I think I was cycling through the nanas at the end, reaching high EQ several times.

Now, this is my third day home and I feel restless most of the time, with periods of extremely good equanimity mixed in there.

Most of you are more experienced in dealing with this than I am. Could you help with advice regarding the transition back into lay life after a longer, intensive retreat and/or how to deal with the food cravings that rise like every second of the day? Of course, "just observe them" is the obvious answer but they are so intensely strong.

Thank you so much. With the ultimate metta to all beings....

RE: Help! Food Cravings are Overwhelming....
2/4/12 12:31 PM as a reply to Be Free Now.
HI, welcome to the DhO,

I can't speak about long retreats, but I do know what you mean. After retreat I eat like a maniac if unrestrained. I think you probably lost a bit of weight over those 60days right? Your body wants to get back to where it thinks it should be (not unreasonably..) and unless you have really good reasons (ie you were obese) to not want that, you should probably just let it get there by eating a bit more than usual for a week or 2.

Trying to eat the right things would be good though. Here's a couple of tips:

* Seeds and nuts are just as satisfying (at least after eaten) as chocolate or dairy products
* Avocados, olive oil and other mono saturates are great sources of good fat
* Try not to go beserk on the red meat --fish works pretty well.

Hope that helps,

RE: Help! Food Cravings are Overwhelming....
2/4/12 2:28 PM as a reply to Bagpuss The Gnome.
Mitsuaki David Chi:
I had 2 huge bowls of oatmeal (w/ almonds, flax, raisins, nutritional yeast), four avocados, three apples, a banana, half a big orange, a tangerine, 6 oz of blueberries, 2 pineapple cakes, a handful of chocolate covered raisins, and a bunch of (mostly not so healthy) samples at a farmer's market.

Hey David,

Nice little run down of whatever entered that mouth of yours emoticon
Would be interesting to hear a little bit more about your practice during the retreat and perhaps a run-down history of your practice before?

Good luck with the food emoticon

RE: Help! Food Cravings are Overwhelming....
2/4/12 3:50 PM as a reply to Yadid dee.
BTW, after I came back, I started find things left and right to give away, throw away, and sell.

But I've realized that this phase must also come to an end, because no matter what is on the outside, it's the inside that counts.

I must admit, though, limiting my possessions feels good. But I also have this intense urge to help my parents clean up their possessions but there is impatient with the speed at which things are moving. It's this urge to clean up, to give, to throw away. This might be the desire for deliverance.

I also sent in an application for a 6-month to 1 year retreat at IMS Forest Refuge today. I have no idea where the money will come from but I will continue to be resourceful.

Thanks for listening to these rants and thoughts.

RE: Help! Food Cravings are Overwhelming....
2/4/12 6:01 PM as a reply to Be Free Now.
I have to warn you that the food at IMS is to die for! emoticon They've got some sprouts that I've been craving ever since.

RE: Help! Food Cravings are Overwhelming....
2/4/12 6:05 PM as a reply to Be Free Now.
I think I am the last one who can give advice regarding food cravings. I know about you are talking. But I am sorry there is an advice only to be mindful regarding eating (how much, what type of food and when, how often). And if you lost a lot of weight I agree with previous post that after is usually that our body tells you "Take more chocolate and more chocolate and more biscuits and more, more, more!!!!!!!!!!"
I cross finger to you.
Take care

RE: Help! Food Cravings are Overwhelming....
2/4/12 7:51 PM as a reply to Jane Laurel Carrington.
Loved it. I was there just for 8 days in July, and at the main retreat center, not Forest Refuge. But it's a lovely place. The teachers aren't quite in tune with what people do on DhO, but one can adjust.

RE: Help! Food Cravings are Overwhelming....
2/5/12 3:33 AM as a reply to Jane Laurel Carrington.
hey Mitsuaki David.

glad you found your way in here. thanks for the tip on the dark night, i read some of the book, a lot of stuff happened in the practice after you left the room. i almost stopped practice but had one great day before i left panditarama, now i feel stuck though between joy and despair.
you missed a lovely dhamma family gathering at the center btw. u pandita was in top form and a lot of give aways.

also looked at the forrest center ims. might go there next fall for a 6 months. it looks great

enjoy your breakfast


RE: Help! Food Cravings are Overwhelming....
2/5/12 6:58 AM as a reply to Yadid dee.
Hi David,

It sounds like you didn't really put in all the effort into the practice on those retreats that you could have, regardless of food amounts.
My advice to you for your next retreat is, to try really powering up your practice with non-stop noting till you reach the hard shit, and then note some more, till it opens up panoramically into calm, and then still investigate the calm and whatever is there. No dwelling on the past without noting it, no dwelling on the future without noting it, no dwelling on the food without noting it, etc.

Craving the food? note it. An image of the cake in the mind's eye? note it. An intention arising to go get it? Note it. Getting up to get it? note it. Eating it? note it. Regret? note it. Want to go sit? note it, etc.


RE: Help! Food Cravings are Overwhelming....
2/6/12 12:24 AM as a reply to Yadid dee.
hi David,

What you are saying about cravings rings a bell with me, not so much that I have been through it like you, though I can relate in some small way, but rather some friends on another forum discussing in passing the intensity of cravings after retreat sessions when doing 'dry insight' vipassana. It seems to me from my limited experience as well, that the more intense the effort, the more intense the backlash too.

Have you considered allowing yourself some space to drop all the goals for a while and just refocus on Why you do all of this in the first place? One thing I have found is that striving towards imagined goals (even goals that are 'real world' possible) has the effect of increasing dissatisfaction with right now. Which in some ways is working against the imagined goal, assuming that goal is along the lines of ending stress etc.

Don't be hard on yourself, and perhaps get some gentle excercise, it can really help balance things up.

RE: Help! Food Cravings are Overwhelming....
2/6/12 1:34 AM as a reply to Yadid dee.
Mitsuaki David Chi:

To be honest, I put in the best effort of my life. Sure, not everyday was an "up" day, but man did I sit and walk with intensity.

Perhaps I was wrong then? Could be.
I think my impression mostly stemmed from this part of your post:
Mitsuaki David Chi:
Didn't really get serious about noting until like day 20-25 I think. I was trying to freestyle, feeling sensations here and there but not really concentratedly most of the time.

RE: Help! Food Cravings are Overwhelming....
2/6/12 2:05 AM as a reply to Jared Ludida.
What kind of give aways were there?

bakery stuff, coffey, metta, watermelon, and a cake with onions in it.

thanks for the advice shared.

you go on practicing restraint ;)


RE: Help! Food Cravings are Overwhelming....
2/7/12 1:28 PM as a reply to Andrew ..
Sounds to me like your body just plain needed the calories. Wish I could spontaneously "lose" a few pounds!

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