I have spent the last 6 weeks not eating sugar. I didn’t go completely sugar free like last time I still ate fruit and some carbs. I don’t eat a lot of bread anyway as I find my digestion is liking it less and less and any satisfaction I get from eating it is quickly overshadowed by bloating and discomfort. This was not a diet it was a spiritual practice - a sadhana. A sadhana is found across many religions and spiritual traditions and is a way to “accomplish something and transcend the ego “ (wikipedia) and I have done them in many ways and forms. Sometimes I choose to do a particular mantra every day for 40 days or I might do a particular meditation everyday.
Iyengar (1993: p. 22) in his English translation of and commentary to the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali defines sādhanā in relation to abhyāsa and kriyā:
Sādhanā is a discipline undertaken in the pursuit of a goal. Abhyāsa is repeated practice performed with observation and reflection. Kriyā, or action, also implies perfect execution with study and investigation. Therefore, sādhanā, abhyāsa, and kriyā all mean one and the same thing. A sādhaka, or practitioner, is one who skillfully applies...mind and intelligence in practice towards a spiritual goal.
So as you can see it’s really up to you as to what you do. You can abstain from something or you can take on something. But you need to do it with the intention of learning and growing from it.
So what did I learn for my sadhana?
Well I learnt what my triggers are and I learnt that making such a commitment is not easy. Here in Australia there has been an anti-smoking ad on the TV which instead of being quite negative as they tend o be this one focused on how each time you quit it makes you stronger. And I have to to agree. I have stopped eating chocolate before and did a big sugar detox last year and found that this once was easier mentally.
Now that I can officially eat sugar again and have broken through the real cravings, have built up my strength and am aware of my triggers I don’t really want to go back to it all. But it was interesting once I was free to eat it again I noticed the triggers having a second shot and other justifications coming in.
So the mastery now is to have that control. It’s much easier to abstain and go hard turkey in a way than to have the discipline of control. It’s like giving yourself an inch without allowing yourself to take the mile along with it.