I interviewed Nora (blogger, model, fashion expert) at Cafe Henrie in Manhattan Lower East Side about her eating habits, her eating routine, and how she emotionally and psychologically relates to food. As we chatted, we both had the VLT sandwich: roasted cauliflower, morning radish, cucumber, cabbage, tahini, and a side of poached egg.
Before I get into the details and specifics of the interview, just take a moment and observe the huge difference in height there is between Nora and I. She’s the tall thin model, and I’m the midget-food-psychologist blogger. Hold on, I’ll tell you why this is so relevant.
My mom used to say that tall people have this ability to see things from above; that they have a better and more detached perspective of life. On the other hand, us the “chatos” (shorties) have our heads way too close to the floor and we get all confused and fired up easily with the smallest things; we don’t have that lift and lightness that tall people have. I’m not so sure about that theory mom, BUT interestingly enough, in this case it does apply to Nora.
Her attitude completely matches her height: she floats around life as if she was in a cloud, always smiling, always gentle, always so soft and pleasant to be around with. When I’m with her, I feel like my “shortie” nature becomes evident: I can notice how my mind goes fast and in circles, and that maybe my head really is too close to the ground like my mom says, and I think/look/ dig around a lot, and ask way too many questions about anything and everything in life.
I think this is true for most of us: we have active whirling minds that constantly overthink the sh!@!* out of everything. We think of our minds as this powerful tool that can get us anywhere, and we use it all day long to micromanage and control our lives. Our western society has made the thinking rational mind the most prized thing we have, and since we were children we got used to strive to get straight A’s and become very academic beings that can memorize, calculate and figure out complicated equations. Over the years we have given so much power to our minds that now it has complete control over us making us feel agitated, confused, and constantly jump from one thought to the other, robbing us from living a creative and spontaneous life because we simply want control over e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g.
We try to control our life, our bodies, and our experience of the world because we think that everything relies on what we DO or DON’T do in life. How little do we know, because in reality, nothing really depends on us. Life has its own magical way of making things happen, which has nothing to do with how much we push, shove, and pull; on the contrary, real truth comes from taking a step back and becoming receptive.
I love this quote from Zen in the Art of Archery:
The right art,” cried the Master, “is purposeless, aimless! The more obstinately you try to learn how to shoot the arrow for the sake of hitting the goal, the less you will succeed in the one and the further the other will recede. What stands in your way is that you have a much too willful will. You think that what you do not do yourself does not happen.
We try to control the shape of our bodies by controlling our appetite, controlling the food we eat, controlling the way we exercise and workout, and when we feel we can no longer control ourselves, we look to control other people too! Be it boyfriend, girlfriend,spouse, friend or co-worker—all of a sudden we are SO focused on what they do or don’t do, and we judge.
Really we should be the ones controlling our minds. Yes, we have to learn to train and control the mind like it was a crazy baby monkey that we have to keep an eye on and train little by little. We have an unruly mind and we have to become vigilant of it so that it doesn’t go all over the place complicating and ruining our lives. We have to become aware of the mind’s never-ending desire to jump around from one thought to the other. We have to watch over it like we would watch a child that is around sharp objects; we have to be very attentive, and not let it get its way.
I say this especially because wherever the mind goes, energy flows. That is, whatever stories you create in your mind your emotions will follow, and your emotions will determine how you experience reality. Our mind has power to either take us into a never-ending roller coaster of thoughts and confusion, or if we provide it with the right tools, it can bring us clarity and happiness.
The only way to create space so life can really happen to us is by quieting down the mind chatter. Yes, our agitated mind is what stands between us and that place of calm, groundedness, happiness and serenity that exists inside ourselves. The solution lies in controlling the mind, and not letting it control you. Once you are able to control and direct it, you will be able to free yourself so you can go into more real, subtle, mysterious, creative, and expansive corners of your being.
So how to do it? Single focused attention: that’s what spiritual Masters have been teaching us for years.
When you start meditating, (especially if you’re a beginner) it’s really important that you put your full attention on one thing; that you have single-focused attention on something, like for example, the breath. In Jivamukti Yoga, when we sit to meditate we focus on the breath and on the mantra LET GO.
With every inhale you silently say LET, and with every exhale you silently say GO… LET-GO. And like that you repeat it in your mind with every breath: inhale LET, exhale GO.
Slowly, you’ll notice how you can start to let go of any thought that comes up. You keep letting go until eventually you will arrive to a state of utter silence, utter stillnes, and utter peace inside yourself. When you focus your attention on the breath, everything else that’s going on inside the mind starts to fade, to quiet down, to calm down, so that we can come back to zero and reset our system. So that when we open our eyes again, we feel fresh and alive again.
Control is not bad at all, it’s just that we have been applying it to the wrong things. We have been trying to tame and control the wild creative side in us, when really what we should tame and control is the mind so that it doesn’t go against our free spirit nature.
If you focus the mind, you will control it
If you control the mind, you will arrive at the center of you being
At the center there’s no need to control anything… you’re free.
And with this, I’ll leave you with the interview I did to Nora, who in my opinion is a person who is not constantly trying to grasp or control life. She has a very natural sense of ease as she goes about life, eating, and dealing with her mind. She carries with her a softness that can be seen in the way she walks around Mahattan, in the way she eats, in the way she speaks.. always super calm and with a great sense of style.
So here is Nora, opening herself up to all of us, to let us explore HER OWN relationship with food. Get to know what her morning routine is like, what she always has to have before she leaves home, the 3 foods she always has in her fridge, and what she eats when she feels like she needs a lift in mood and energy.