Posts Tagged ‘mindful eating’

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.

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.

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.