Recently, I was craving chicken salad. I haven’t had it in many years, and I was visiting a diner that I remember made it deliciously from scratch. As I was eating my mouth wasn’t loving the taste, my mind was saying, “This isn’t what I remember”, yet I kept eating the chicken salad. I was almost finished the meal when I realized that my heart wasn’t satisfied. I felt no joy from this food. There wasn’t the crunch of the celery or the pungent taste of the onion. It was lackluster at best, but I didn’t stop eating, because I was searching for something- for a memory of a food I once remembered.
Does this happen just with food?
I began to think about how often this happens in other parts of my life when I am not aware and paying attention to my heart and body. I can recall a situation where someone was giving me a book recommendation, explaining how enjoyable it was to read. The story had an intriguing plot line and the type of literature I so love to read. However, I found myself reading and not experiencing the same excitement my friend described.
I had an expectation and it wasn’t being met. I continued to read on, wondering when I was going to become involved and enraptured by the characters and the plot. I put the book down numerous times – my body telling me something. I even gave myself a number of pages to decide if I would continue on or quit reading. It became a quest, not a present moment immersion of this activity I so love – my heart giving me information. I caught myself in this striving and decided to put the book down. It wasn’t for me.
I stepped outside and walked into my meditation garden to listen to the birds and the gurgling noises of the stream nearby. I was gratified as my heart beat softly, my shoulders softened, a smile crept across my face. In this moment, I embraced the language of my body and my heart. Paying attention closely to the satisfaction, contentment, or sheer enjoyment of a moment brings healing.
A link between emotions and physical sensations in the body
I have found that it is necessary for me to deeply feel the physical sensations of my body or to my mood or emotions. There are times in my life when I haven’t paid attention and only listened to the pervasive and persistent thoughts, particularly “the should’s” and the “the should not’s”, otherwise known as the Inner Critic in Mindful Eating – Conscious Living. I have become immersed in what others might want, what is expected of me, or unattainable expectations of my own which has never served me well. When this occurs, I feel disconnected, unsettled, and inauthentic.
In contrast, when I notice the subtle sensations of my body and the emotions that are present, I can inquire with curiosity what would be nourishing and beneficial for me. Then, I am invigorated, fulfilled and thankful. I am truly satisfied. In Mindful Eating – Conscious Living, there is an exercise called, “Linking Emotions with Physical Sensations in the Body”. The more I practice and teach this exercise, the more I can trust my very being which is a radical act of healing.
What thoughts, emotions and physical sensations have you noticed when expectations are present?
What have you noticed in your life when you pay close attention to your thoughts, emotions and physical sensations?
How does this attention affect your behavior?
Lisa Rigau – USA