I facilitated a process work session with a friend tonight, around her sugar addiction.
Process work session
We followed a step-by-step Process Work framework to exploring addiction and addictive tendencies, starting with her imagining eating sugar and experiences the effects of it in her body and otherwise. She got very tired and heavy, and ended up face-down on the floor, feeling a weight on her. I added to the weight to amplify the experience. We then switched roles, I lying on the floor with a weight on me, and she was the weight – relaxed, not pushing down. Again, we switched and I was a relaxed weight on her and she noticed how comforting it was, and how it helped her connect with the body.
At this point, she experienced neck pain and got up abruptly, reporting that she experienced anger. I realized that this too was part of the process, although was not quite sure to do the final step of the framework or go with the anger. I tried to finish up by asking her if she could find a way to arrive at the same experience of comfort and connection with the body that eating sugar gives. She was obviously distracted, although tried to explore it. In a last ditch attempt at following the framework, I said that what came up for me when I explored it for myself was the comfort in just noticing the heaviness of my body.
She got in touch with her anger again, and poured out a quite amazing flow of insights, beginning with anger at how I want her to get rid of the sugar cravings and continuing into how much pressure it has been for her to feel that she has to get rid of it for so many years, how many plans and strategies she has tried to get rid of sugar cravings and/or stop eating sugar and how stressful it has been, how much guilt that comes from it, and so on.
Having to do it, and having to not do it
After this outpouring, she realized the battle between having to do it (the craving) and having to not do it (the should), the tremendous amount of energy she has spent in that dynamic, and that she want to be done with the whole thing completely.
She realized that the problem was never the sugar, but the struggle within her around having to do it, and having to not do it.
This has been her religion the whole time, since her teens, and she realized that she was finally ex-communicated from this religion.
Afterwards, she was glowing with exitement from realizing this, and the freedom it brought her. She said I cannot wait to be ex-communicated from another one of my religions.
She has been doing the Byron Katie inquiries for a while, and the outpouring was a natural and spontaneous explorations of the four questions and the turnarounds – which we both realized at the end.
For me, it was another reminder of how our struggles often (always?) are between two beliefs. There is a belief in what is (in this case the crawing) and a belief taking the form of the should (I shouldn’t eat sugar), and this creates a battle and suffering.