The other day after dinner I could not resist the temptation of having my favourite dessert – a sweet. My son, who was sitting next to me, looked at me with a somewhat serious face and asked me “Baba, you have no control over yourself?” I sheepishly responded with “But I am only having one piece”. I could not, however, look him in the eyes while saying this, as I knew that his remark was actually an appeal to me (in fact, one of many such in the past) to cut down on avoidable calories.

Somewhere deep down within me I felt guilty of being selfish knowing well that my blood sugar levels were on the higher side, and that it was absolutely imperative for me to cut down on my calorie intake for the sake of my health. After all, who would I burden other than my immediate family members should I suffer from any complications arising out of diabetes? I was instantly reminded of the time when my father-in-law was unable to stop smoking in spite of warnings from the doctor, and how I had wished then that he had better control over himself. And here I was, yielding to this devil of temptation, being fully aware of the risks associated with uncontrolled levels of sugar in the blood.

I could recall having come in touch with some people with remarkable will power, one such example being the Principal of my High School, an Irishman, who was such a chain smoker that, if we lent our pen to him, it would smell strongly of nicotine when we got it back. One fine day he quit smoking. Even though at that young age I realized how difficult this must have been for him, yet somehow I could not muster the courage to ask him how he was able to so radically give up this habit of so many years.  I can well imagine now the big battle that he must have had to fight with himself in order to achieve this extraordinary feat, if I may say so.

On a deeper analysis I realized that, while it may be okay to indulge once in a while, the catch lay in my inability to limit the intake of my favourite sweets and chocolates, as also the frequency of such consumption. That day itself I made a mental vow to do away with eating sweets altogether, as other means of exercising control (such a limiting my intake or its frequency) were not working for me. But the real challenge before me was how to go about it. Many such promises made to myself over the years had failed miserably usually after a promising start. This time I had to think of an effective strategy that would help me to succeed in reigning in my craving for the high calorie stuff.

While racking my brain to look for a solution, I heard an inner voice telling me to think of how one overcomes negative emotions such as anger, jealousy, irritability, intolerance, etc., and to try and apply the same principle to my situation. Following on this lead, it occurred to me that if I were to program my senses to look at any sweet offered to me (or lying in front of me) as something so bitter that I would instantly throw up if I were to take it, the urge to eat it would be automatically killed. So I embarked upon my anti-calorie crusade right away armed with this new weapon.  Now that I am two months or so down the road, I find that this approach has worked very well for me. Even though it took me some time to orient my mind to this new thought process, it appears that the new ‘formula’ has seeped into my subconscious state, as I find that the desire for sweets is fast fading away. This is, by the way, exactly the outcome that Swami Ji had indicated in one of his discourses, and I am happy at having personally realized this, albeit a bit late in life.  But as they say, better late than never!

While I do not smoke, and drink only occasionally, I am not in a position to personally assess whether my ‘prescription’ would work equally well for compulsive smokers or alcoholics. However, I am convinced that once the concerned individual realizes deep in his / her heart the perils of such indulgences / habits, a permanent remedy would certainly be forthcoming even though it may differ from what has worked for me. Of course, nothing like this would be possible without divine grace  and blessings, like the “inner voice” in my case.

With such a positive beginning, I feel more confident now than ever before to overcome any other temptation or habit that I would like to control (or change). My ultimate goal is to be a master over my moods and desires. That way I hope to eventually attain complete control over myself, and thereby achieve my dream of remaining calm and unruffled at all times irrespective of the circumstances.

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Subrata Lahiri

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