This holiday week, the paleo-primal world is full of guidance on planning a perfect Thanksgiving feast. One that celebrates the abundance, nurturance and deliciousness of real, whole food.
Our own Thanksgiving will be a simple, quiet occasion.
Typically, we go to morning yoga; eat a packed lunch before buying last-minute groceries; and return home to make a turkey, several side dishes and dessert.
Mashed sweet potatoes, honey-sweetened cranberry sauce, some sort of green veggie and grain-free pumpkin pie are pretty much always on the menu. And because it’s just the two of us (and two too-clever Siamese cats), the food lasts a week, offering a bonus holiday from planning, shopping and cooking.
Before sitting down to eat, we take a walk on a quiet, empty beach…listening to ocean waves crashing under a darkened sky. A peaceful day stretches into an ease-filled evening, and I do, indeed, feel immensely grateful.
So, though I find the Thanksgiving planning and round-up posts delightful, I wanted to share something different here—a post reflecting my introspective, quiet mood this time of year.
This holiday, I offer you a talk, a teaching and a tagline.
First, the talk.
One of my favorite dharma teachers, Gil Fronsdal, gave a short talk recently on sincerity.
As always, his words were beautiful, wise and inspiring. You can find a recording of the talk here.
It’s only around 12 minutes long, but even if you have just 5 minutes, it’s still worth a listen.
Second, the teaching.
This comes from Gil and his talk but also resonates powerfully with the work we do here, at Alchemist Eating.
It has to do with sincerity. And by sincerity, I mean being fully present for our life and what is. I also mean being fully ourselves—authentic and complete in our humanness.
When we practice and live with sincerity, Gil teaches, “the practice is always worthwhile.” There is a deep ease—and deep fulfillment—that comes from showing up in a sincere way, both for ourselves and for others.
What does this sort of sincerity look like? Gil describes it in terms of three qualities:
1. Being Honest
There is tremendous value in getting really honest about what’s happening now—in meeting our life and our experience as it actually is. Not with judgement or shame, but with compassionate—yet exacting—honesty.
When we work with Alchemist Eating clients, this is a foundational piece. It’s usually not easy…but is always, always an essential part of the discovery and change process.
2. Having Integrity
Gil says integrity is “shorthand for being complete—being whole.” With integrity, we act from a place of honesty…and in this way act from the whole of who we are.
The idea is that rather than divide or fragment ourselves with criticism, judgement, aversion or desire, we make space for our complete self. We say: All parts of me are welcome here.
At Alchemist Eating, we meet you in this place. And we seek to help you meet yourself—your whole self—the same way.
3. Being Whole-Hearted
This has to do with giving yourself fully—whole-heartedly—to the task at hand. To be sincere is to bring your best effort. And, as Gil explains, this really does mean your best effort—the best effort you have available at any particular time.
Your best effort will vary…from moment-to-moment, day-to-day, year-to-year. It’s a long game, and all we ask at Alchemist Eating is that you show up, whole-heartedly, as best you can right now.
So. Three qualities of sincerity: being honest, having integrity, and being whole-hearted.
Well, living from this place—living with sincerity—is a blessing in its own right. Nothing else is needed. The experience of embodying a more complete, authentic self is enough.
And yet, what often happens from this place is a beautiful unfolding.
Because when we move from a place of sincerity, we make space for growth and change in a way that’s true. In a way that gives expression to our Heart’s true desires.
Third, the tagline.
Here at Alchemist Eating, we used to describe ourselves as “holistic, functional, primal.”
All those are true…and yet, something pivotal was missing.
Thing is, what truly sets us apart from most other programs and practitioners is our integration—our alchemy—of three key elements:
- Holistic Medicine. Using the art and science of Chinese Medicine, we treat your whole body-mind—and don’t reduce you to one symptom or body part.
- Primal Principles. This includes healthy eating but is more than a set of “food rules.” It also encompasses lifestyle patterns that help us thrive.
- Mindful Exploration. We’re not here just to “medicate” your symptoms. We’re interested in investigating underlying patterns and figuring out solutions that work for you, as an individual. Guiding you through honest, mindful exploration is the Heart of this process.
To these, we also add a crucial fourth element:
- Healing Partnership. Going it alone when you’re struggling with food and eating can be really, really hard. As part of a healing partnership, we’re in this together. At Alchemist Eating, we celebrate this connection and move from a place of compassion, nurturance and abundance.
So, moving from this place—and reflecting the true Heart of our practice—our tagline is changing. We are now: