So, there I was, packing my suitcase with a joyful heart and a renewed and hopeful spirit. I had just finished an amazing Mindful Eating–Conscious Living™ professional training in a beautiful and peaceful monastic setting. Many wonderful “aha” moments had happened for me during those 5 days. I had finally understood why my relationship with food was the way it was. “And now,” I said to myself, “I just have to remember: one bite at a time, feel my emotions in my body, identify the cues of hunger and fullness, cravings fade away… I can do it.” I thought that with a better understanding and meditating every day I had all the elements to put my new mindful eating knowledge into practice. It all seemed logic and feasible. I even thought it was easy.
Then, I went home.
I don’t know about the rest of the world, but for me, putting what I’d learned into practice — adding the ingredient of mindfulness to my eating patterns – has not been so easy. Even though I know in my head that I can be carried away by a stressful situation or anxious emotions, that doesn’t mean I can always remember to slow down, pause and take a breath or two.
So, on a bumpy road, and in a trial and error fashion, I finally understand that like with any other skill, becoming more mindful takes practice, patience and self-compassion. But this time the understanding does not come from a conceptual framework but from the personal experience of tuning into my body’s wisdom.
The mindfulness trainings I attended have been useful, but it is back home where I have many opportunities to practice becoming more mindful. Every minute is an opportunity to stop and observe, to appreciate the flavors and textures of not only what I am eating, but of all life. I have noticed that when my mindfulness practice weakens it translates into me being more reactive. Every day is an opportunity to see, accept and love ourselves for just being who we are: a human being under construction.
So, now when I find myself automatically opening the fridge or the kitchen pantry and I realize that I am not physically hungry, I pause and with curiosity ask myself, “What’s really going on?” Is it anxiety over that presentation? Is it the million pending things to do on my list? Or is it that uncomfortable moment I had with my partner earlier today? What has me looking in the wrong place and what do I really need? Then, without judgement, I breathe and take care of my true needs.
We are in the holiday season which provides us with many opportunities to practice mindful eating and self-compassion during what can be a stressful time of year for many people. With patience and perseverance, we can continue to deepen our mindfulness and mindful eating practice in the new year. I wish you all a very happy and mindful 2017.
Have you ever caught yourself eating mindlessly and thinking “Eating mindfully is not as easy as I thought!”? What do you notice in your life when your mindfulness practice is stronger compared to those times when it is weaker?
Claudia Vega, Mexico