The animal on my belly

Several days ago my mom made my favorite meal of all time, and sent me away with plenty of it in plastic containers. It’s this Mexican soup…it’s got everything awesome in it. So late last Tuesday night, instead of sleeping, I was wide awake and falling down a YouTube tunnel when I decided to run downstairs and heat up some of that amazing Mexican soup. I ate every bit of it—it was as delicious as ever—and it kept me up all night. I’ve had never had heartburn before!

When I would finally drift off to sleep, I would dream about being completely full and I’d snap back up. I dreamed I was at a friend’s birthday party and ate too much cake. Then I dreamed I was at Thanksgiving, watching football, totally stuffed. I drifted to sleep again and dreamed an animal was sitting on my tummy. It was awful. When I woke, I was still full. I didn’t eat the next day—I couldn’t even stomach my morning coffee.

How could something so good feel so very bad? One might say it was the amount that I ate all at once—slow down! One might say it was the late hour that I ate—I’ve heard that your body is more likely to store those calories as fat rather than burn them as energy because you’re laying still all night. I think one thing’s quite clear though: I was mastered by my impulses that night.

We don’t have to live as slaves to impulse and cravings and middle-of-the-night obsessions. We don’t have to indulge ourselves just because something good is right there within reach. Leo Babauta said:

"I get a craving for a food, and I’m suddenly on the hunt for it. Food is in front of me, and I can’t resist eating it even if I’m not that hungry.
What if we stopped ourselves when the idea comes into our heads? What if we noticed the urge at its outset, and just took it for what it is: an impulse that arises in us like a thousand other thoughts and feelings do all day long.
We don’t need to be slaves to our impulses. We can see them with mindfulness and just watch them with curiosity."

Maybe the animal on my belly is me. Maybe the dream was my mind telling me, "Josh, it's your desires that are bearing down on you, pressing in on you, holding you down." I've learned my lesson and I don't think I'll be taking home any more of that Mexican soup any time soon.