Real Independence

Today is a glorious day here in St. Louis, MO.  There is an incredibly bright blue sky overhead and comfortable temperatures which are always a gift in the summer here.

It’s the 4th of July which has me thinking about Independence.  In this country we have this wonderful gift.  I’m extremely grateful, but I am also aware of the ways that my clients and I give up our personal independence on a regular basis.

What I am referring to is our tendency to be controlled and ruled by the thoughts in our heads that we take seriously.  We each have our own foreign monarchy trying to call the shots for us in a way that is not in our own best interest.

For example, many of us have a voice that tells us that we are never good enough. It doesn’t matter what we do or how hard we try, this clever voice has a way of undoing our best efforts by noticing some shortcoming.  Many of us have a voice that seems to make its living by pointing out ways that we don’t look the way we should.  We’re too short, tall,  heavy, skinny, old,…..on and on. These voices judge our behavior.  We shouldn’t have said that or we should just realize that we aren’t as smart as we should be.

Do you recognize this voice?  If so, don’t give up.  There is great news!  This news is that we always, yes, always  have a choice as to whether we take these voices seriously!  Yes, we get to be in charge.  The voices are pretty much automatic, but we feed them and empower when we allow them to be The Truth.  Taking charge means noticing the voice’s message and recognizing that it is optional as to whether we pay any more attention to the message.  Some people dismiss the thought by saying, “Thanks for sharing” and then moving on with their day with no more attention paid to it.

What you will find is that when we don’t “feed” these thoughts with our rapt attention, they slowly begin to lose their power and and not show up as often.

As usual, it’s all a matter of mindfulness.   We need to pay attention to what it is that we are paying attention to so that we see that we always have choices as to whether we want to continue to do what we are doing (& , of course, get the same old results) or choose something else.

A Journey to Wholeness via Mindfulness

I remember times in my life when I was afraid to let myself be free to just be me.  I always needed to look around to see who was watching.  What would they think of me?  Would I meet their approval?  Would they think less of me and shun me? Maybe if I kept my mouth shut they would think I was smart.

As a result of this concern, I let my life become smaller and smaller.  It was safe because I was playing it safe by doing nothing – except EATING!

Yes,  EATING!  I did lots of that.  Now,  I have to add that I did my eating in secret.  I would never allow anyone to see me stuffing Reese’s Peanut Butter cups into my mouth – Oh, no!  Never!  Not in public.  This was a very solitary, secret  project.  It was also very shameful.  As a child I would  grab a handful of cookies when no one was looking, run to my room & hide them under my bed.  All evening I would remember, fondly, my delicious secret that was waiting for me in my room.

Later in college I would sneak food into my dorm room.  Later as a wife and mother, I also continued this trend.  Food and eating were my secret obsession.  I was a good Mom, but in most of my spare time in my head I was plotting when I could next sneak off to eat.

My life had become smaller and smaller.  The one interesting thing that I did for myself when my children were growing up was to begin to meditate.  For the first time in my life I began to calmly notice my patterns without judgement.  I just noticed.  It slowly dawned on me how I had allowed my life to shrivel up into a little dried up ball of doubts and fears.  I saw how my concern about what others thought about me was paralyzing me.

It slowly dawned on me as I sat in quiet meditative reflection that I was dying to be free to be the woman I was meant to be, using my own heart and intelligence to begin to make wise decisions that were in my own best interest.  I could never make everyone happy.  That was not possible.  Besides that, it was not the point.  The point was to behave in a way that I respected.

Certainly my relationship to food changed during this time.  Food began to fade into the background.  I no longer needed to use it as a distraction from living a meaningful life.  I could actually check in with myself to see if I was hungry before I ate – Imagine that!  I slowed my eating down so that I could mindfully savor the healthy food I came to prefer.  With mindfulness I had come to notice that peanut butter cups were extremely salty and made me painfully thirsty, leaving a bad taste in my mouth for hours and a lethargic feeling in my body and mind for an entire day.  I had never noticed this before.  I was too busy running away from my life.

All of the years that I spent playing it safe are over and gone.  I thank God that I finally woke up,  via meditation and mindfulness.  They saved my life and I hope that the sharing of my story might help to save someone else’s life.  Dare to be who you are meant to be.  Take risks.  Make mistakes and learn from them.


Does your traditional Thanksgiving consist of cleaning, cooking and overeating followed by exhaustion?  If so, why not try a mindful Thanksgiving this year?

Thanksgiving is an opportunity to slow down, to be grateful for what we have and to really see what is important in our lives.

For example, as you are slicing and chopping vegetables for the meal, become aware that they were warmed by the sunshine, were watered by the rain and had moonlight shining down on them at night.  You might reflect on the fact that you are preparing food that will nourish the bodies of those you love so that this becomes an act of caring rather than a boring chore.

If you notice yourself caught up in worries about whether the house looks perfect or fearful that you will overeat, try to remember that all of that is beside the point.  The point is to savor the experience of togetherness and gratitude for all that you have.  You might see that slowing down with this awareness of abundance and gratitude will fill you emotionally so that you will be less likely to burden yourself with excess food.  Perhaps you will also see that what you are truly hungering for are these nourishing feelings.

Put aside your worries and fears to look into the eyes of those with whom you are sharing this day.  Drink in the delight of any children who might be present.  Notice what is right and let the rest go.

A warm, mindful connection with others provides a positive internal experience.  We miss this experience if we are busy worrying and/or judging ourselves and others.

Creating this kind of rich, meaningful experience can provide a wonderful balance for any personal life hardships, upsetting world events and uncertainties.

Perhaps you will see any opportunity to reach out in some way to some one who is less fortunate, being grateful for the opportunity to do so.  This kind of behavior not only feels good to us, but it also is modeling behavior that your children are likely to integrate into their lives in a positive way.

You might be amazed at how much abundance you have when you actually slow down and just notice.