In my personal struggle with my weight, as well as in the work I do with others, mindfulness is a key factor in my daily recovery. If I am not mindful, if I take my mind off of my intention to be healthy and happy, to feel better every day - then I go overboard and want to check out. This is in opposition to waking up. Mindfulness is waking up to the moment, to the resistance, to the tension. Moving through it by breathing into sensation in order to become present to what is. Mindfulness can only be practiced in the here and now, and doing so leads to a deeper and more meaningful existence. Imagine yourself making contact with the ground and then try to make contact with the ground. Does the imagining feel less severe and perhaps more effortless?
Mindfulness is a way, an embodiment, a personal resolution to embody. We all do so naturally when you allow yourself to enjoy doing what you are doing, such as riding a horse, eating a meal with friends, listening to a partner, digging in the dirt. The problem comes when we do what we do mindlessly, and forget the importance of making contact with the present moment. Each moment builds on the one before, and the practice of mindfulness invites a state of truth and love to emerge from within, rather than a state of doing, judging, and avoiding being, all which leads to a denial of the inner eco system.
Inside of the body there are the keys to our healing. I am convinced, after 12 years of battling food and weight, that the answer does not lie in the food I eat or how much I weigh. I can fight this all day long, by believing my mind when it tells me how awful I look, or when I think other people are judging me, to believe them. This, my friend, creates a negative thought loop which is not really true. In essence, it is meaningless information on the path to wholeness and to creating freedom from a food and weight obsession. After years of being a psychotic macrobiotic vegan, I wish I could say I know how to fix your body with food (b/c a part of me agrees), but if the mind does not believe the body is healthy as it is, then it will continue to use food to be fixed and break down, fixed and break down, again and again. I have tried this and it never works.
What is mindfulness and how can it help overcome eating disorders, food and weight obsessions, addictions and compulsions?
I taught myself to be mindful with food through one simple platform (and you can too!). It is, however a way, and there are many ways. This one works and I recommend having many philosophies around food that work for you.
- Eat for the next segment of time. What you eat now will give you the juice to thrive for the afternoon, morning, night and not for the rest of your life. You can always eat again, even if that is in one hour or is not a specified meal or snack time. Does this sound overly simplistic? It may, however if you are or have ever struggled with binging or eating compulsively, you may understand that sometimes you eat for a few days in one sitting. This makes no sense, and there are ways to make sense of it, AND I recommend having ideas, patterns, intentions, motivational talks inside of your mind and body that keep you focused on the results you would like to achieve.
- Chew well. This does not mean 100x per bite (however, I used to do this and it works!). Chew when you remember, and work to remember to chew as much as possible.
- Eat as if in full view of others (thanks, Geneen Roth!!). Or eat as if you are surrounded by your most beloved friends and mentors. Would you stand up eating @ the refrigerator if a client or new friend came over? This works. It may also help you set the table - clear the space around you for a peaceful meal. Prevent you from watching tv or being on the computer while eating. And is practical advice for eating anywhere in the world. I don't want to eat in the car, do you?