Overcoming Compulsive Thoughts: A Journey To Freedom Within
OK. Seriously? How good does this darn sarmie look!? This recipe was inspired by a series of flashbacks I had while writing my Psychology Exam. Lol. You can clearly see where my priorities were at ;) There was an invigilator standing beside me munching on a tuna-mayo sandwich and usually the smell of fish turns me off, but because I was absolutely ravenous my mind instantly jumped to some fond childhood memories of running as fast as I could to the DSG Dining Hall during school break to get my hands on some tuna-mayo sarmies. I immediately felt a pang of nostalgia and decided I HAD to re-create a “tuna-mayo” sandwich. Not a healthy “rye bread” toasted sandwich with cashew cream “mayo” but full on white bread toasted sandwich with vegan store bought mayo and all the fixins’. Boom.
Something I learnt on this day: sometimes you just gotta listen to what you really want. Even if it’s not the healthiest option out there, health goes way beyond simply what you do & don’t eat. It is also about balance, about openness and about a sense of ease. If you are eating the healthiest foods in the world but your mindset is rigid, unforgiving and inflexible, you will likely find that you do not feel whole because you are placing/identifying your entire experience and journey of health on simply one of the many aspects that comprise health: what you eat. Yes, what you eat plays a massive role in health, and it can and does change lives, reverse diseases and so much more. But, if you neglect the mental health part of health, that’s half the battle lost. So sometimes, that means eating the vegan doughnut or going in for that mayo sandwich or indulging in that beautiful but not “necessary” (as it were) dessert or staying in bed and doing absolutely nothing all day or watching some series because it is what you want to do. After all, life is rather dull if you are simply a robot following rigid rules and limitations you have set up in your mind because you feel you have to do those things in order to feel happy or worthy. True happiness comes when you realize that it is a state of being and not something to achieve. If your mind is in a good & receptive space, you can turn just about anything into a healing experience, one that supports your health on one or all of the many levels that health is comprised of.
Today for example, it is Sunday as I write this post. I woke up late, I am still in my PJ’s and I haven’t brushed my teeth or done yoga yet. But I am happy. Because I am flexible with myself. If every single day I wake up and force myself to do my daily routine, then it takes the fun out of my routine because it is now a “chore” and it takes all sense of spontaneity out of my life and makes me feel more like a non-human than a human being. There’s that wonderful line, “we are human beings, not human doings”. And so it is. Sometimes the peace & relaxation that comes with just letting go of mental rigidity and some of our daily routines & habits is so much greater than doing the habit or routine out of a compulsive need to feel efficient or productive. I suppose it comes back to intention: what is the initial impulse or intention behind your actions? What is driving your movement? What is driving your habits or routines? And are you carrying them out with awareness & conscious movement or have they been reduced to nothing more than empty routine and a need to produce a superficial sense of adequacy? GO within, ask yourself these questions and find your truth in them. That process of inquiry will most likely result in either a change of attitude within your routines or will allow you to realize that your routines and habits need changing and with that awareness, you will be able to go forward in establishing new and more conscious ways.
I actually spoke about this the other day on my Instagram story in relation to fitness & exercise. I was blown away by the responses from people, telling me that they totally resonated with what I had to say and that hearing it from someone else made them feel a great sense of ease and calmness of mind.
The crux of it was this:
We often hear media & people around us telling us we have to do vigorous exercise daily in order to be healthy & happy. Yes, daily movement of some kind is vital for leading a healthy, happy, fulfilled & energized life. However, it is SO important to listen to what you truly need on any given day: both on a physical level but sometimes more importantly on an energetic & emotional level. Many people forget those two aspects of the self when trying to establish healthy new habits. They say, “I will run 30 minutes every day”. Or I will go to the gym 4 times a week on these allocated days. But, HOLD UP. Where has the ability to tune into and listen to the body + Self gone? What if on one of the days where you have “allocated” gym time you feel tired and stressed and all your physical, energetic & emotional body wants is to do an hour of yoga, or a gentle calming walk in nature? You end up feeling guilty or worth-less because you haven’t lived up to a construct that your mind has created. This is why one of my absolute missions and commitments to myself this year was/is to really focus on tuning into and actually listening to my Self. There’s a fine line between pushing/challenging yourself into developing and growing in a positive & constructive way and being too regimented, “strict” or obsessive so that it actually hinders your growth. For me this manifested over the last few years into me becoming a compulsive runner – I loved running, and still do - but now in a much healthier way. I used to run to simply pacify the voice in my head that made me feel guilty if I didn’t. The voice that said, “Don’t be lazy. Look they are going to the gym or they are running 10km, the least you can do is just a quick 20-30-minute run”. I thought that the only way to have freedom of that compulsion was to listen to it when it got really intense. But, by constantly giving into that compulsion, I never gave myself the opportunity to actually go beyond it into the realm of true freedom within. Freedom of attachment and dependency is what I craved but did not know how to go past those compulsive thoughts telling me I had to do certain things in order to be content within myself.
However, in December of 2017, I knew something had to change. I knew that I couldn’t keep on going with this limited way of being in the world. It was limiting my soul’s growth & expansion and was thus limiting my ability to truly be and embrace life fully & lovingly. I realized that when you are a slave to compulsive behavior, not only your life is limited, but your entire ability to love and receive love is limited, too. I believe that compulsivity is innately contractive and not expansive, and so when you are ruled by your compulsions, you energetically contract, which creates less SPACE in your life. Your ability to be open & receptive to good is put in jeopardy simply because you are identified with a certain set of mental fluctuations that are ruling your life? This simply didn’t make sense to me. So, when Hunny & I were traveling in Thailand, I committed myself to not running ONCE for over a month. And, what’s more is: I DID IT. I survived. And not only did I survive, but it broke the cycle of compulsive thought and habitual action that was ruling my life. I went beyond the compulsive thoughts into my true freedom. I finally reached that blissful space of non-attachment and non-dependency on something so externally based. A space where anything was possible and I felt such a HUGE sense of relief & deep trust within my own body & mind. This decision allowed me to really put more time & energy into my yoga practice – and this led me to commit to my practice more than ever before. Realizing the profound physical & energetic healing power of the journey inward through Yoga. There is the wonderful quote that always sticks with me, “the only journey, is the journey within”. I realized that because I had been using the external to pacify my desire for internal union within myself, I was experiencing a huge lack of wholeness in my life. By committing to my practice though, it has allowed me to really become in tune with myself on such a deep level: allowing me to truly live authentically & intentionally. Now, I do my practice every day and it has truly changed my life. My practice also changes on a daily basis: some days it is a vigorous asana session, other days it is more focused on meditation & pranayama. And then, on other days when I truly feel like running or gymming or moving my body in different ways, then I listen and do it. But, it is no longer coming from a place of obsessive compulsivity or obeying my mind. But from a place of true desire to explore more. At first it was really hard to go beyond that controlling through pattern to reach the space beyond the limiting beliefs. But, boy am I glad to have gone there, to have pushed my boundaries within myself. Because it has changed my whole way of engaging with my reality. Realizing & embodying the realization that there is a deeper more powerful part of myself that is stronger than the psychological activity of my mind. My true Self.
I've now been living in a more expansive way: feeling a deep opening from within that is allowing me to let go & loosen up. To do what feels good on a deeper level and to do that which I truly believe allows me to unfold. Unfold? Yes, to unfold & uncover the layers of untruths that have been monitoring and muffling my ability to live my fullest life. And funnily enough, the simple act of eating this wondrous toasted sandwich was one such moment of freedom and simple JOY.
So, without further a due, here is the delicious chickpea tuna toasted sandwich recipe …
· 1 tin chickpeas or garbanzo beans, washed and drained
· 3-4 tablespoons of vegan mayonnaise
· 2 tablespoons of chopped gherkins
· 1 tablespoon of lemon juice
· 1 large stalk (or two smaller ones) of celery, chopped
· 1 tomato, diced
· 2 slightly heaping teaspoons of kelp powder
· 1 teaspoon of dried thyme
· ½ teaspoon of salt
· ½-1 teaspoon of ground black pepper
· slices of bread of choice (this time I used good ol’ white bread but you can use whatever you would like to!)
1. Place the washed & drained chickpeas in a bowl and mash roughly with a fork.
2. Add all of the other ingredients into the chickpeas (except the bread of course) and mix well. Taste, and adjust seasoning to your preference.
3. Place a pan on the stove and put the heat medium-high. I used a non-stick pan so I didn’t need any oil. If you would like to grease the pan with a bit of oil you can do so. Take your bread and slather the mixture onto one piece. Place the other piece of bread on top to make a sandwich and then place the sandwich in the heated pan to toast. Once it is brown and golden on that side, flip and toast the other side. It’s important to make sure the heat isn’t too high because then you will crisp/burn the bread before it adequately toasts through.
4. Slice in half and serve with tomato sauce and extra mayo and a side salad (optional). Or simply as is J