Monday, March 21, 2011
Today Ice Cream, Tomorrow the World!
On St Patrick's Day, my boyfriend, his 4 year old son, and I went out to dinner. I live in a "happening" place, chock full of bars, restaurants and nightlife. In addition to the holiday, it was also the first championship game for a popular local university whose colors match that of a leprechaun. Because of this, the streets were crowded with every variation of green possible - from a girl wearing a shamrock headband to a guy sporting full neon body paint. Needless to say, it was AMAZING people watching :)
We had a great dinner and went walking around the streets to enjoy both the spring-like weather and entertaining scenery. We didn't want the evening to end, so my boyfriend suggested we duck into a nearby ice cream place.
For a trying-hard-to-be-vegan-person-who-looooooves-ice-cream, I got scared. I had a moment of "S%$#%@, what do I do?" But the festive atmosphere on the streets swept me up into saying "yes" and just acknowledging I was about to fail in my vegan quest. Oh well, there's always tomorrow.
Standing in line, I had an epiphany. I didn't have to get ice cream. I know that sounds silly, of course I didn't HAVE to get it, you're saying. But really, before that moment, I didn't realize I had a choice. We were going to an ice cream place, of course I'm going to get it. But in that moment, I equated my craving for ice cream just like the itch I talked about in a previous blog. It was my brain making a decision for me on autopilot. I never made a conscious choice to get ice cream, I just assumed I was getting it since I was there. My brain was following what it has done every time before in this situation.
Like GI Joe says, knowing is half the battle. As soon as I realized what was happening, I made a conscious decision to NOT get ice cream. It was almost as if a weight physically lifted from my shoulders. Just like that, I took conscious control of the situation. In my head, I resisted the urge that kept telling me how creamy and yummy and delicious it was. I shook off the voice that said "what, you're just going to sit here and watch others eat it? You're going to regret not getting any." Inhale.....exhale......And guess what, once the craving knew it had met its match, it backed off! Over the course of 3 people ahead of us in line, I went from weak autopilot follower to strong in-control leader. By the time we got to the counter, I didn't even have a craving for it anymore. I watched my boyfriend and his son order it, and sat with them at the table the entire time they ate it, and never once had an urge to even taste a bite! I wasn't even resisting anything by this point, I was completely at peace with not having any ice cream. All I had to do was stand up to my brain and take back control.
This may not seem like a monumental moment to most - passing up the opportunity to get ice cream. But it was. It was the first time I took all of those lessons learned during meditation and applied them to a non-yoga situation. My every day life was altered because of sitting silently and acknowledging my breath. Wow.