If Bliss is our natural state, then why does it seem that we are so averse to feeling it? Everything that makes us happy, expands our sense of Self and allows us to know our Bliss, we avoid. Everything that makes us sad and angry and hurt and feel fear, these things we seem perpetually to create.
We must be doing it unconsciously, right? Surely we wouldn’t act this way knowingly! It would appear that the only logical explanation for our behavior is that it is a learned behavior, the result of conditioning. If we were really conscious of our decision to avoid Bliss, we would correct it, would we not?
Say it again to yourself...Chocolate.
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Now aloud: ‘Chocolate.’
Let the images come, the memory of its taste...the way it feels, melting on your tongue... Perfect. Without even eating a piece, we can, through memory or visualization, enjoy the Blissful experience of this sacred delight. No guilt, right?
Now think of the last time you ate some chocolate. Did you feel you had to sneak it? Did you eat too much and regret it afterward? Did you hog down the lot of the precious morsels? And how did you feel after your escapade? Were you able to enjoy the chocolate fully? I certainly hope so!
Chocolate Tied to Guilt and Shame
However, it is the unfortunate truth that for many of us the experience of eating chocolate is often tied to the emotions of guilt and shame. Distressing emotions such as guilt and shame are immune-suppressors. When we have these emotions we are perpetually telling the body that there is ‘trouble’, and our body keeps producing cortisol.
Cortisol is a hormone produced during ‘fight or flight’ as a protection for the body.It boosts the immune system initially as well as increasing adrenaline, etc. After the ‘attack’ or episode is over, the body would naturally reduce the quantity of cortisol in the blood. By continuing to feel distressing emotions cortisol begins to have the reverse effect, we actually reduce the amount of white blood cells we produce, most importantly T-cells that guard against disease and infection.
We usually want to have dessert, and we may enjoy it while engaged in it, but somewhere in the back of our minds is that little voice counting calories, fearing later stomach aches and bloating and keeping us from taking the last bite. Somewhere in our programming we were taught to believe that we shouldn’t eat ‘too much’ chocolate. Someone has convinced us that it is ‘bad’ somehow, only allowed in the smallest and most infrequent of doses. We describe the eating of it as an ‘indulgence.’ What does that even mean?
In our relationship with chocolate, our attitude is similar to the attitude we have toward hobbies or pastimes that we wish we had time for, but with which we limit our experience by arguing we have ‘more important’ things to do and ‘greater responsibilities’ to attend to. Yet the experiences we have while in the moment with these things which bring us joy are communications from our inner-most being: that we are in alignment, that we are living our purpose.
Giving Ourselves Permission to "Indulge" in Chocolate
The term ‘indulgence’ derives from Roman Catholic theology, and is defined as “the full or partial remission of temporal punishment due for sins which have already been forgiven.” An ‘indulgence’ was granted when the sinner had confessed and had received absolution.
We still use our indulgences in the same way today. For example, with chocolate, if we have eaten well and managed to avoid having dessert all week, then we think we deserve to ‘indulge’ a little, right? We even refer to eating chocolate as being a little ‘naughty.’ We’ve all used the classic line (or something like it), “I’ve been good, so I deserve this slice of chocolate cream pie!”
No matter who we are or what our ‘status,’ we all have something in life we consider an indulgence. For some the indulgence is buying a favorite soap, or a fine bottle of wine. Our jobs or income may dictate our indulgences. For example, if you work at a bookstore, you might ‘indulge’ by spending your paycheck on books. Someone who works in retail clothing might do the same with clothing; a jeweler with that diamond necklace she’s been eyeing.
The indulgence might take the form of property, if you work in real estate, or an extra cup of coffee if you are barely making ends meet. Some might indulge by spending ‘a lot of money’—more than one’s income, a chunk of one’s savings—but no matter what the level of income or supposed status, when it comes to dessert, and especially to chocolate, indulgence reaches across the board.
Chocolate as Both Reward and Sin
In Western culture, in this day and age, we have assigned chocolate—and desserts in general—a role in our lives that, I believe, derives from our childhood conditioning.
Growing up, we were told we couldn’t have it, that it wasn’t good for us; that we would spoil our dinner, or that we would get sick if we ate too much. Abstaining from chocolate—taking a restrained approach to ‘dessert’—was determined to be ‘good’ behavior. Eating chocolate was cast in a very negative light and became a ‘sin,’ really.
As we matured, we began simply to consider chocolate one of the ‘lesser evils,’ but we never fully removed it from the ‘list.’ As adults, no one is telling us that we can’t have it anymore, yet the guilt remains, and the inner struggle continues. We ‘indulge’ in chocolate now and feel ashamed for it afterward. Why? The excitement builds in anticipation of our ‘due reward,’ and then the shame crashes down on us for having eaten ‘the whole thing.’
Chocolate is NOT the Problem
It is apparent to me that the issue isn’t the chocolate. Clearly, it’s bigger than that. It may be that chocolate represents a part of our ‘whole’ nature, a part we have consciously or unconsciously repressed.
In this information age, surely we have all had the opportunity to realize that nearly all of us have repressed something. We may differ in apparent magnitude of our repressed ‘whatevers,’ but truth be told, we all have some aspect of ourselves that we have not allowed the light of awareness to shine upon.
Carl Jung and others speak of our ‘shadow self’. There are many interpretations of what that is. My interpretation goes something like this: Think of what you would be like in your most Blissful state. How would you spend each day, what would you be doing, how you would appear? What are the feelings you would have? How would your breath be in this moment?
Now juxtapose this picture of Bliss with where you are right now. I call this realization and the awareness produced by this juxtaposition, knowledge of the shadow self. In this knowing of what Bliss might look like for you, and the feeling of separation from it, you begin to recognize how you are living the mere shadow of your dream, in the shadow of your truth. In this knowing we become conscious of our shadow self.
Our truest Self (or the illuminated Bliss self) many of us only glimpse on rare occasions, when something really excites us, or at moments when we feel the beginning of pleasure—but then some part of the situation or circumstance dictates to us that we should not feel that way. Unconsciously, we ‘repress’ the bubbling pleasurable emotions that threaten to place us at odds with what is ‘acceptable.’ Our true Self is where Bliss hides, under the layers of ‘supposed tos’ and ‘shoulds.’
Hiding Our Bliss in the Closet
Did you ever find yourself sneaking dessert as a child? Who doesn’t remember at least once hiding in a closet, or the bathroom, behind a door or chair inhaling the last brownie, chocolate chip cookie or spoonful of frosting?
How many of us have had to hide our affection for another person? Or had to hide an entire relationship? Favorite clothing, a purchase we made? Some of us have felt that we had to hide serious decisions that brought us joy, feeling as though they would disappoint shame or hurt another. Our lives are full of these stories.
This hidden part of Self, when brought into the light of awareness, transforms us completely; for in order to have this awareness at all, we must be ready to fully embrace its truth, the willingness to accept Bliss into our life.
The Stuck Story: Chocolate (or Whatever Else) is "Bad" for You
As a child, when we were told something was ‘bad,’ many of us (if not all of us) on some level were curious. Taboos, despite their warnings, often entice. It is a natural response if one is curious and ‘brave’—or rebellious—enough, when the opportunity arises, to try to find out for ourselves what is so ‘bad’ about something. Perhaps we transgress in order to really experience the ‘bad.’ Or maybe we do it in hopes of disproving this label through our own experience.
If our experience shows us that our parents were ‘right,’ then they succeed in passing on their ‘stuck story’. However, if we experienced it differently, we usually did so in secret, keeping our ‘indulgence’ to ourselves.
The ‘stuck story’ concept has been passed down from Native American storytellers to illustrate how people keep perpetuating their miserably ineffective and disempowered status quo, repeating the same pattern of behavior and arriving at the same outcome again and again . According to the tradition, a change in perspective helps release the ‘stuck story.’ To embrace a new awareness allows for an expansion in your corner of the universe.
Each generation builds on the previous generation. We were all given a set of beliefs, and definitions of ‘right’ and ‘wrong,’ ‘good’ and ‘bad’ from our parents or guardians. Part of the process of evolution or growth is the redefinition of the old paradigm, and the rediscovery of what was previously simply taken for granted as a fact.
Embracing the Truth and Ourselves
In the experience of The Chocolate Fast, we are given the opportunity to embrace chocolate and release our own ‘stuck story’ as it relates to chocolate. We also allow the experience of embracing something fully to work its magic on us completely. When we surrender to the Bliss this act of embracing can create, there is a part of us that understands on a deeper level that Bliss is in fact our birthright.
What if we were to embrace our whole selves? What if we stopped the self-judgment, stopped the labeling of right and wrong? What would happen if we chose to allow ourselves to experience Bliss in our lives?
What if we could find Bliss in every experience, even the hurt and the pain? What if we could remember that we know, deep down, that Bliss is the underlying message, that Bliss is the natural state of ALL things, and that everything else is the attempt to remember it?
This article was reprinted with permission of the author.
©2010, 2011. http://www.neverthesamechocolate.com.
The Chocolate Fast: Embracing your Bliss one Truffle at a time!
by Stasia Bliss.
About the Author
Stasia Bliss is a health, consciousness and personal empowerment/transformation author & speaker. She teaches yoga, creates raw transformational chocolate and practices life alchemy. Stasia is the mother of two boys and an alternative medicine/natural food enthusiast & practitioner. She is also an avid blogger/podcaster on spirituality & evolution. www.blissinthehouse.com