How I switched to being a vegetarian (and learned to listen to my body better in the process) :

I am from Syria.

When I was 15 years old there was a lebanese woman who appeared regularly on TV in her own show. She studied macrobiotics in America and she was promoting a healthy macrobiotic lifestyle.. she was also a living example of a mystic. my parents learned about whole grains thanks to her, so we switched to whole grains. This woman was considered a very bizarre woman by most people but I was very familiar with her honest attitude and the universal concepts she spoke of.


a few years later She stayed for a few days in Damascus in and came to visit my family.  because I saw that Mariam was appreciating my rebellious nature instead of condemning it like my parents did, I was very open to what she advised me. She said two things that changed my life forever.. and I realized later on that indeed she came to deliver those very important messages to me. She was “a messenger from God” and we all are in a way or in another.. we all play this role. The two things she said were:

She told me  that I was not “walking my talk” because I was not taking actual steps to become independant and self-reliable. I knew I did not need anyone, but I was not living this knowledge by forging my own path and taking care of my own needs.

She also  asked me: “why don’t u become vegetarian”?  this I think was the most important sentence she said.. from that point on I was determined to be firm about my decision of becoming vegetarian.  i had heard about vegetarianism before and it appealed to me.. but it was then that I decided I was not going to eat what others offer just to please them or to feel part of the crowd. I am not part of any crowd and it was time for me to walk the talk.

I stopped eating meat. I immediately saw improvement .. I was feeling better! Then I slowly and gradually also stopped animal by-products and also I noticed an even greater improvement. But like many others on this path I gone back and forth.. I stopped eating sugar for a while then went back to eating sugar and other refined foods regularly.. I had to go back and forth and experiment with what it really was doing to my body and to how I was feeling because of eating certain food. I noticed when I ate something that was too  sweet I felt nauseous.. but it is a different kind of nausea than the one I get in my head.. I would feel something is blocking my chest.. I felt heavy and thirsty too. Eating sugar and refined food also made me feel like I had very low energy and was tired all the time.. eating too much salt makes me feel uncomfortable too.

then there was also a time when I experimented with eating too much nuts and fruit juices everyday for some time at a certain point, I guess It was my way of dealing with the emotions that surfaced because of the partial detox ( I went vegan, sugar-free, refined products-free). All the unresolved issues and emotions that were buried under all the emotional and physical numbness that the food I ate was creating –they all surfaced and were louder and clearer now.. it was time I dealt with them… but instead, I resorted to eating lots of roasted nuts and fruit juices.. as a result, after a few weeks my hands and feet were starting to feel tingly and a little number than usual. i was also in general feeling as if I was a little drunk but in a milder more “diluted” way. It felt really bad.. I felt I was loosing control of my body. It was then that I realized I was literally numbing my feelings and shutting my consciousness when I was eating such food. And I had to go back to macrobiotics guidelines which does not allow consumption of nuts and fruits or fruit juices daily in quantities like the quantities I was consuming. I experimented a lot with how the food I ate was related to my emotional experiences…  I also realized that I was craving all the “numbing” food when I did not want to deal with certain negative emotions I had. Or when I had taken on someone else’s anxiety or negative energy, and instead of processing it  or allowing it to be felt, I would run to fill my mouth.

For example, there was a time when I worked with children who were labeled to have “learning difficulties” in Syria. some of them were mentally challenged indeed, but some were not at all having difficulties learning, they were just too smart to waste their time on unimportant details they teach at school. It was also not possible for them to be obedient or to become conditioned to certain “school regulations” like the rest of the students.. it was because they were so bright and alive.. highly evolved souls, I call them! They are very curious and passionate about subjects that really matter, like nature, animals, the environment, arts, spontaneous experimental scientific learning. at 8 years old, can u believe it?  They were very honest children and very wild and untamed.. there was two of them who were especially bright..  they did not walk like they were “supposed to”, in the corridors of the school, because they are not robots! They just move according to what nature dictates.. they would not be doing anything wrong.. they would only be naturally expressing their wild and very playful nature..  it was such a joy to work with them because they were unpredictable and fun to be around.. Sami used to sometimes surprise me with his playful “pretend biting” while I was reading or demonstrating something to him.. and I loved it.. I felt his love. sometimes he would start playing with my hair pulling it up to make a nice "hair-do" for me :D

They were two very special kids full of creative loving energy .. our systems are what is wrong, not THEM! school systems are based upon valuing the teacher’s authority and the dead rules instead of valuing the authentic nature of the kids.. their spirit!!! Spirit comes first, nature comes first, not rules! We need to reprioritize our values. NOW. Nature is wild, it is not tamed. Who are we to expect children to be un-natural?

I am telling you this because it is related to what I was talking about, my experience with food, I will make the connection next:

I had to work with these kids at their school, I would for example accompany them to the classroom sometimes.. and I had to work also with them after school.. I enjoyed working with them after school so much because it was a one-on-one lesson in a closed room, so I had the freedom to teach and interact with them in any way I find suitable. But going to that school was very hard.. not only do I see how stupid the adults are in dealing with these highly sensitive kids.. but also I had to witness how these two very special and smart kids were being treated and undermined.. even just the authoritarian talk, I always thought it is scary and unnecessary. The kids were NOT doing anything wrong, and even when kids do wrong, they should be guided lovingly.. firmly, but with much acceptance and tolerance, so they may choose an alternative approach that is more healthy to their well being. The whole “discipline-oriented” ambience of the school was making me uncomfortable. All the illogical demands that adults have.. they expect kids to behave like adults.. adults are boring lifeless serious deadheads anyways.. who wants to be like that? I wouldn’t.

So everytime I would come back from the school I would literally be feeling “Down”.. I would feel the burden that those kids carry and I would be full of this repressed energy. And instead of dealing with those feelings by for example practicing deep breathing techniques for half an hour, I would head to the kitchen and start stuffing my mouth like crazy… it was easier to numb the feelings of helplessness than to accept them and transform them.

I also realized that whenever I do something that hurts the people I love, I also feel the urge to stuff my throat with food.. especially the addictive unhealthy kind of food, that will immediately make my body numb and heavy..

This relationship we have with our bodies.. it is such a wonder.. a mystery.. the most important thing we need to learn from our reincarnation in this physical body is how to be comfortable in this body.. how to make this body comfortable, how to really listen to it. Not only food, but also emotions make us feel uncomfortable in our bodies.. 

The challenge of resolving the karma one has with his own body.. all other so called “karmas” are a manifestation of this one basic karma.. all the unhealthy or troubled relationships you have with other people are merely a reflection of the one unhealthy troubled relationship you have with your body, with your emotions, with your mind, with yourself. So by just loving your body more, by becoming more sensitive to its needs, you become more sensitive to others needs automatically. U need not do anything.. just look within... Listen to how certain behaviour or certain things u say or do make you feel in your body.. what energy flows through your body? Its not just the food we eat.. it’s the things we watch on TV, the information we read, the behaviour, the thoughts, the emotions..  all those things affect how we feel in our bodies.  that is why meditation is the only cure, it is about allowing and witnessing with acceptance what is taking place in me without judgement or fight. Without any internal reaction.  This is what inner stillness is.. total acceptance.. total embrace. And there are many ways to practice meditation, including dynamic active meditations.



Conclusion is, it is not about NOT eating certain foods or eating other foods. it is about eating whatsoever u feel like eating as long as u eat it CONSCIOUSLY. Just be aware of how you are eating what you are eating, why you are eating it, and how it makes you feel while on your tongue and afterwards, when it is in your stomach, your heart.. short-term and long-term effects..

If u hear something about healthy living or dieting, try it, and see what happens! It is the only way to know for sure.. and if u feel a certain way of eating suits you more than another, just follow this hunch u feel.. I felt macrobiotics suits me.. and it does. But I also heard recently my friend saying that garlic and onions are toxic and they cause dark circles around the eyes.. indeed , even though I have less circles around my eyes since I started eating macrobiotically, i never  had the black dark circles completely disappear until I stopped eating garlic and onions as often as I used to.. I still use onions in cooking sometimes.. but in general I replace them with ginger, pomegranate syrup.. etc.

So just experiment. When I heard what I heard about garlic and onions, I listened to my heart, it told me it is true so I decided to I try it. Do not just follow certain guidelines or rules.. find out why you like or crave certain unhealthy food. Find out if you REALLY do crave them or if it is just an old habit... start noticing the difference between the cravings of the body and the emotional cravings.

You can numb those feelings temporarily, but then what? Your destiny is to learn to fulfill your emotional cravings.. and food doesn’t do that. You only fulfill your emotional cravings by loving your emotions and loving yourself.. by taking care of yourself and honoring your emotions and your thoughts and your body.... Embrace your emotions, all of them. Accept them.

The body never lies. But the mind does. The mind only understands duality and separation, so it doesn’t want you to become whole. If u become whole then the mind ceases to be the master, and the whole you becomes the master instead.  The mind always  tries to trick you into avoiding self-love.. and u are identified with the mind, that is why self-love appears as a guilty act.. don’t allow the mind to play those tricks on you. Love yourself and become whole. I realize more clearly everyday that I cannot really love others unless I love myself. It is only by having something that u can give it to others.




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