Peeking Under The Hood: It’s Not Just Calories In, Calories Out

Over the last month or so, I have hired a personal coach. Ostensibly, the goal was to help me break through my unfortunate, not to mention unhealthy, addiction to stress eating. And I don’t just stress eat – I do it at night. And I do it with just about anything with the word butter in the title – peanut butter being my ultimate favorite, followed closely by almond butter, then tahini (which, you guessed it, is sesame butter)! I guess the only good news is that I don’t like, eat, or use real butter, so it could be worse!

Regardless….

I have hired this amazing coach, Steph, and every week we talk on the phone for about an hour – every fourth week it’s an hour and a half. And guess what? Never once have we actually talked about food.

According to Steph, my remaining issues with food – the stress eating, the over reliance on fat and salt as a coping mechanism – are all symptomatic of deeper, underlying issues, many of which have their origins in childhood, but were undoubtedly reinforced in adolescence as well as in adulthood.

Last week, Steph took me on a guided meditation using a lot of Native American symbolism and other shamanistic healing techniques. She asked me to imagine a wooded setting and just to let different animals appear to me and to guide me through to my destination.

Although I was skeptical at first – aren’t I always? – my subconscious mind presented me with different guides with very little prompting. One, I had always suspected was a guide for me – the Deer. The others – an Owl, a Woodchuck, and a Peacock – were a little more surprising.

After the call, I did a little google searching on animal spirit guides and here’s what I found:

The Deer: The deer as a totem serves as a bridge between the wild and the tame. This is because the deer will often be seen on the edges of the wilderness it calls home. Deer will also venture into our roadways and gardens. When deer appears you may want to ask yourself if there is a wild streak in you that desires taming. Or, have you been too cautious lately and desire to take a walk on the wild side? Deers have acute senses, they are always on alert to keep themselves from harms way. Deer totem may appear when danger is lurking, it also serves as a reminder to be watchful and alert to potential harm….”

The Owl: “The owl represents wisdom and higher education. Because of the owl’s keen eyesight it considered to be a great visionary. It also has superb hearing. As a totem it can reveal clairaudient and clairvoyant abilities. This nocturnal bird is called “The Keeper of Dark Secrets.” The owl totem has a connection to the dark side and the dead. The owl is associated with superstition and magical powers. Whenever an owl appears or you hear an owl screech in the night it may be that a secret will soon be revealed to you. Also, if a secret is shared with you in confidence, the owl serves as a reminder to honor that knowledge and keep the secret private.”

The Woodchuck (aka Groundhog): “The groundhog is symbolically known as being a trance dreamer because of its deep slumber while hibernating underground. If the groundhog is your personal animal totem or makes its appearance in your life it may indicate that messages are being given to you through your dreams. Because the groundhog is a territorial animal, you may be in need of setting up boundaries or guarding your personal space.”

The Peacock: “The peacock is a majestic and mystical totem symbolizing inner wisdom. Whenever the peacock visits it is an invitation to view higher aspects of yourself through the eye image displayed on its magnificent display of feather plumes. The eye is your gateway to higher knowledge. Ask yourself if you need to widen your perspective and look deeper regarding a situation. The iridescent hues of blues and greens in the feathers have an exotic look. Are you stuck in drab surroundings? Are you able to reflect light and deflect dark emotions? The peacock teaches us to stand upright and show others our talents with pride.”

This may not be that resonate with you, as my readers, but, trust me, it’s very resonate with what’s going on in my life at the moment as well as in the foreseeable future.

If you haven’t ever looked beneath your own hood – I highly recommend it. It’s interesting. It’s fun. And it’s surprisingly insightful.

If you’re interested in finding your animal guides, here are three steps taken from an article originally posted at ehow.com.

Step 1
Find your power animal pro-actively by asking the animal spirits for a dream. Then rest and let the power animal find you. Don’t dismiss smaller animals such as mice or even insects. Animals have their own unique strengths. You may want to keep a journal beside your bed and make note of recurring dreams in which an animal or some form of an animal appears again.

Step 2
Notice the things in nature that you are continually drawn to. Power animals may guide your senses and attention to certain elements, natural sites or geographical phenomena that are reminiscent of or peculiar to a certain animal. If you are repeatedly captivated by nests, burrows or snow, for example, let the animal world communicate itself to you.

Step 3
Take time during the day to relax, close your eyes and breathe. Power animals frequently make themselves known to us when we are conscious as well as when we are asleep. Be receptive to visions through meditation. In your calm state, imagine a situation where you move out of your personal space such as your home and enter into an unknown but unthreatening and quiet natural space such as a field or a cave.

Read more: How to Find Your Power Animal | eHow.com http://www.ehow.com/how_2202396_power-animal.html#ixzz0w1WxcSIj

For those of you who know me, you’re probably thinking: What?! Who are you and what have you done with KJ?!

Don’t worry, the staid, quiet academic you know and love is alive and well (well, when she needs to be), but this year has been a time of deep reflection and exploration for me. I’ve stepped away from strictly rational explanations – not that I am implying that there is anything irrational about spirit guides, mind you! I have also lessened my reliance on strict sociological explanations and have begun to include more psychological insights into my view of the world.

So, does this mean I’m flip-flopping or abandoning my roots? No, not at all. I prefer to think of it as growing. Of letting go of some of the rigidity of my youth and seeing the world and myself in different and multifaceted ways. And, hey, if by opening my mind to new possibilities means I can get rid of these stubborn couple inches of belly fat, all the better. Regardless of what happens with my waistline, I can tell you one thing – since I have been, as Peter Gabriel so eloquently put it – digging in the dirt – life has gotten so, so much easier on so many fronts, the least of which is food!

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