A MINDFUL THANKSGIVING

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.

Mindful Leaf Raking

This morning while still at home at my townhouse which is located in the woods, I looked out at my deck & noticed that, yet again, it was covered with leaves.  I felt some irritation since it had only been a couple of days since my husband had removed a large quantity of leaves.

“Okay, okay, this time I’ll do it,” I grudgingly thought.

I slid open the door, and wonder of wonders, walked right smack into the Present Moment!  I was filled with awe as I noticed that the sun was highlighting the brilliant reds and oranges and yellows of leaves that were still clinging to their trees.  How could I have not seen that as I looked out at the pile of leaves to rake?  The air was crisply refreshing.  I was more than glad to take in nice, long breaths of it. I took my trusty broom and began to sweep the leaves into a pile.  The sound of the brittle leaves filled my ears with delight.  I had no idea why, and I sure didn’t care why.  It just did. I gathered the leaves up & tossed them over the edge of the deck.  I was thrilled with their amazing flight patterns as they danced their way down one story to the forest floor below.  “Wheeee!”  Who said that?  Why, it was me!

I suddenly realized why my granddaughters were so eager “to do” the leaves when they used to come over to spend the night during the Fall.  They really know how to be in the Present Moment on a regular basis to see all the beauty and excitement that is available to all of us when we’re not busy being “up in our heads” thinking the same old distracting thoughts that we always think.

I invite you to do some Mindful Leaf Raking.

Setting a Mindful Eating Intention

In the interests of not being a slave to the voice in my head that has always suggested that I do unwise (aka: stupid) things that kept me stuck for years in a pattern of overeating and hating myself for it, I offer this blog. It is an attempt to suggest some ways of bringing mindfulness into your life so that you might begin to  live your life as if you are in charge.  You can’t change what you’re not aware of.  Mindfulness is about being aware.

Every AM I try to set an intention to do what is in my best interests when it comes to food.  Setting an intention has to do with how you would like to be moment by moment in your life.  It differs from setting a goal which is about an outcome.   An intention is ideally aligned with your values, that is, what you think is important in life.

This idea of setting an intention is a pretty simple thing, but I find that it is extremely powerful in helping me to see that I’m doing my best to live a life of integrity and clarity. ( I set intentions about other ways of being in my life beyond food, but this is a big one for me.)

So, in my case, setting an intention to do what is in my best interests when it comes to food means that I am mindful of the voice in my head that tries to convince me that having a candy bar right now would be FUN.  I acknowledge that voice and I might assume that it’s “the little girl in me” who equates fun with candy bars.  I don’t yell at myself for having that thought nor do I ignore it.  I might wonder if I’m being too serious or working too hard and this sudden craving for a candy bar  for fun is really more about needing to bring fun into my life by lightening up and taking an enjoyable break.

Another example would be when I’m eating something that is really delicious, notice that my body is telling me that I’m satisfied and should stop and I hear myself saying, “But this is so good.  I don’t want to stop.”  Remembering my intention (no easy thing at this point), I remember how disrespectful it is to ignore my body to disregard its signals of fullness and I also remember how uncomfortable I will feel if I continue.

I acknowledge the desire to keep eating, the feeling that it’s never enough, but go ahead and do what I believe is in my best interests.

In these examples I’ve tried to show outcomes that would align with my intentions.  However, we all know (well, let’s say I know from years of working with this food issue in my life) what can sometimes happen to the best of intentions.  If I stray from what I intended and get the candy bar and/or eat beyond fullness, I do my best to be kind toward myself, but firmly remind myself of my intentions and get back on track without beating myself up.  I’ve personally discovered, and research supports the idea, that being mean to ourselves at these times serves no useful purpose.  As a matter of fact, it just sets us up for the next over-eating experience.

What is your intention?  Try to set an intention each AM upon waking.  This will help you start to take charge of your life.

For me, setting an intention and doing the best I can to follow it is the underpinning of living a rewarding life.