It takes a lot of willpower to keep your stomach 20% empty at all times. It even takes willpower to not fill your plate up to match the size of your head when you haven’t eaten in the past 18 hours — yes, that’s the gap between lunch the previous day and breakfast the next day during those 10 days. It takes even more willpower to eat slowly, consciously, paying attention to each smell, each taste, each texture sliding down your tongue and throat. In fact, it takes more determination to not throw as much food as you can, as fast as you can, into your empty pit of a stomach, than it does to remain silent over 10 days.
So the first few days, I learnt the hard way. I did, in fact, disregard this advice, and tell myself it didn’t apply to me, because I didn’t have much body fat to begin with, and I didn’t want to get anaemic or deficient in some other way, and I needed to eat enough to stay awake, rather than worrying about eating too much to stay awake.
Well, I suppose you can guess what happened next… while I didn’t fall asleep during meditation, I couldn’t focus on anything but how full my stomach was, and how much I just wanted to lay down until I had finished digesting. The willpower it took to just stay sitting was significantly more than it would have been to simply eat a little bit less. So I sat there, thinking, alright, I’ll go easy next time.
To make things worse, in spite of filling myself up, I was hungry by the time it was evening anyway. Apparently, I couldn’t be a camel even if I tried.
I started to eat a little bit less at the next meals. My body, used to eating until satisfaction, scolded me each time it ravaged through the food I put into it and loudly asked for more. I tried to ignore it like the crying baby that just needs to tire itself out and fall asleep.
And then, something unexpected happened.