As some of you may already know, I am an atheist Buddhist, and Thich Nhat Hanh gives me the warm fuzzies. (There's a very good reason that Martin Luther King, Jr. nominated him for a Nobel Peace Prize in 1967.)
His books consistently convey an important message -- that this moment, right here, right now is beautiful and full of possibility. The most important thing he has taught me (in a way that was described better than any other Buddhist text I've read) is to care for every emotion that I have, not just the positive ones. I have learned to turn toward those feelings and thoughts that most injure me when left untouched. Because of this, I think I've been able to lose the weight for the first time in my life.
So... the quotes:
Again, these are from Thich Nhat Hanh's book with Dr. Lilian Cheung, called Savor:
It may be helpful for you to reflect on the following questions about your own attitudes, thoughts, feelings, and actions that may have led you to eat more and move less. Be honest with yourself. Write your reflections in a journal [or a blog!] so that you can review them later and gain a better understanding of yourself. Once you are conscious of these attitudes, thoughts, feelings, and actions, you can work, step-by-step, to change them -- to break the mindless forces of habit that have led you to eat more and move less. How do you feel about your current weight? Is having a healthy weight a high priority in your life that's worth your time and energy to address? Do you have enough concentration to focus on your weight problem, your poor eating habits, and your sedentary lifestyle? What is distracting you from your focus?(p. 26, emphasis added)
[T]o attain well-being, we need to take care not only of our bodies but also of our minds. Mindfulness [in Chinese, the character for mindfulness is a combination of the characters for both "now" and "heart" -- it is experiencing the present moment with your heart] practice is central to seeing the interdependence of mind and body. The same applies to weight control. Getting weight under control certainly means paying attention to the body -- making more healthy food choices, cutting back on the amount of food we eat, and exercising more. But none of these bodily changes can happen, or can be sustained in the long term, if our minds aren't fed with nourishing thoughts that help us stay on track -- and that address the issues that caused us to gain weight in the first place.(p. 46, emphasis added)
My realization was that I never had a way to deal with the anger and sadness of both my grandmother and my mother dying. I thought I was coping pretty darn well, but what I really was doing was pushing those emotions into a dark corner and pretending they had been addressed. I invited those feelings into my heart and asked them what they needed in order to be free. My answer was that they needed a voice, and they needed a very specific audience. My answer was that I didn't want to be a victim or held hostage by these emotions any more. Once I got that out of the way, I saw the path very clearly in front of me.
As for the question of priority -- I hope you can all tell that this has taken center stage in my life.