peace

Mindful Eating

Using Mindfulness to stop Distracted and Emotional eating

Raise your hand if you eat in the car. Do you tend to overeat when out with friends? Are there times you find yourself eating when you aren’t even hungry? Do you read or watch TV while you eat? Do you tend to overeat when you are around your family?

So many of us have a distorted, unhealthy relationship with food. I’ve had issues with food since I was a young child. So, getting over emotional eating was a part of my path to healing and ultimately re-creating my relationship with food.

The real gateway for me was what Geneen Roth (author of the fabulous book, “Women, Food, and God”) calls the ‘presencing practice’ also known as ‘mindfulness’.

In a nutshell, mindfulness is simply being totally aware in the present moment.

How do we apply this to eating?

Here are some things to try:

For one meal a day, do nothing. Just sit and eat your food. And, be present. Notice how it tastes, the textures, the smells, the colors. If you had to describe this food to someone who has no clue what it tastes like, what would you say? Also notice your feelings? Does eating without distraction bring up anxiety? Or other uncomfortable feelings?

The first thing that happens when you do this, is you slow down your eating. And if you are eating to stuff down your emotions I guarantee you are eating too fast.

The other thing that happens is your body is now free to tell you how it’s feeling and more importantly, when it’s had enough to eat. The cue to stop eating is usually subtle. And if you were raised to “finish everything on your plate”, then your natural experience of feeling full is likely skewed.

For me, if I’m paying attention, my breathing changes when my body has had enough. It’s subtle, but eating beyond that moment would be overeating.

I promise you if I’m out with friends I will often miss that cue! But, if I remember to eat just one meal a day, totally present without distraction, I will be more likely to notice when my body really has had enough.

Some of us eat so unconsciously that we’ve forgotten how it feels to feel hungry. So, that is another thing to try to do once a day…

Don’t eat until you feel actual hunger. Our natural feelings of hunger are also subtle.

I’m not saying to starve yourself! When you’ve gone too long without food, that’s when “I’m hangry” kicks in. And that’s when you are more likely to choose something with too much sugar in it. There are countless commercials preying on that very impulse telling you things like “you’re not yourself until you have a snickers bar”. So no starving!

Just choose a meal that you can eat when you are hungry, rather then at a designated time (lunch break, etc). Practicing this once a day will also help if you have a fear of getting hungry. That is quite common. Feeling panicked that you won’t have food, can lead you to eat before you are truly hungry. Which leads to overeating because your body wasn’t ready to eat in the first place. Thus, your body’s signal to stop eating likely won’t happen. If going hungry is a fear of yours, have food with you. I have nuts with me all the time so if I’m worried about getting hungry later, I know I’m covered.

Try those two exercises for a few weeks and see what changes in your behavior around food. Again, just one meal a day, totally present. And for one meal a day, wait until you’re actually hungry before you eat.

I’m here to help if you are ready to tackle this and need extra support.
Having said that, if you know you have an eating disorder, PLEASE get medical help. Do not wait or think you can handle it alone. Contact your Doctor immediately.

We all deserve to have a healthy relationship with food. And we can. But for some of us, we have to slow down and get present first.

If this resonated for you…forward it, retweet it, repost it.

And let me know how these practices went for you.

Feeding the Wolves

In Wayne Dyer’s book, “the Power of Intention,” he shares a conversation he overheard soon after 9/11.

A grandfather and his grandson were talking. The grandfather said, “I have 2 wolves fighting inside of me. One is filled with anger, hate, violence and revenge. The other is filled with love, kindness, compassion, and forgiveness.”

“Which one do you think will win?” asked the grandson.

“The one that I feed”, replied the grandfather.

Stop and think about that for a second. Which wolf are you feeding these days?

Your self-talk, your values, and your beliefs effect how you react to your world. And your beliefs are created by thinking the same thoughts over and over again until you ‘believe’ they are true. Which means it’s important to know what you’re thinking!

When you are thinking attack thoughts, you are feeding the wolf of hate and negativity. Just like, when you are thinking loving thoughts you are feeding the wolf of compassion and kindness. I’m going to make the assumption that most of us would prefer to feed the wolf of kindness.

So, how do we manage our thoughts?

By paying attention. Here again, is yet another great reason to meditate and practice being mindful. And, I’m actually going to rename the practice of mindfulness to “mind awareness”, because that more truthfully describes the practice.

“Mind awareness” is exactly what it claims to be: becoming aware of what your mind is thinking. This requires you to disconnect from your thoughts and observe them, rather than associating and hooking into them. By that I mean, you don’t take your thoughts as “truths” and act upon them. Instead you notice them and allow them to show up. But, you take no action based on those thoughts because you are now simply observing them. Thus, you are disengaging from the power they have over you. They are just thoughts. You decide whether to act on them or not.

Not to get all “Matrixy” on you, but the truth is, you are not your thoughts…you are the one thinking your thoughts. Your true self is the” observing self” as some call it.

This is where meditation comes in. There are many forms of meditation. And there is a specific way to meditate for mind awareness.

Before I go any further, I want to clear up some confusion about this form of meditation. The goal is NOT to have no thoughts while meditating. The goal is to allow TONS OF THOUGHTS while meditating, and instead, notice the thoughts and then let them go.

So how do we do this? For some of us, we follow our breath in and out. Some of us use a mantra that we silently repeat in our head. Some of us listen to pretty music. (My faves are at the bottom of this newsletter) What’s most important is that you sit down and do it, not whether you’re saying the right mantra.

You sit, for a chosen amount of time, and notice when your thoughts distract you from your focus. Then, when you notice your mind has strayed, you simply return to your breath or mantra. That’s it. Easy peazy.

I can already feel your resistance…”I don’t have enough time”. First of all, you do…(my last newsletter was about that very thing and if you missed it let me know and I’ll send it to you). You likely have that resistance because someone said ’20 minutes in the morning and 20 minutes in the evening were best’. Well, really? I started with 3 minutes a day! I’m not kidding, that is how I started my practice. Now, I meditate almost every day and for however long I can. Some days it’s still 3 minutes, some days 10, sometimes several times a day…As long as I’m doing it, it’s helping.

Let’s get back to how that translates into real life. When you practice noticing your thoughts when you are still and quiet, you will find it easier to notice your thoughts when you are busy living your life. And by noticing your thoughts, you can start to clear out some of the negative ones and replace them with something more positive. You will more quickly notice when you are being judgmental, impatient, and self critical. And because you are conscious of those thoughts, you can then actively begin to cultivate more compassion instead.

And, the more you practice, the easier it gets.

Set your time to meditate. Remember, just 3 minutes most days is a great place to start. I don’t care how busy you are, you can carve out 3 minutes to sit and notice your thoughts. Then start to be more mind aware throughout your day.

Some people have a reminder on their phone that goes off several times a day to remind them to observe their thoughts. Some people post it in various places reminding them to be mind aware.

After a while, you won’t need the reminders. But when first practicing this, I recommend doing something to help you remember throughout the day. After all, most of us are on auto pilot for a good amount of the time so remembering to shift into awareness can be challenging. So, set up some reminders to make your life easier.

Try this for a week and see how much easier it is to notice which wolf you are feeding…and let me know how it goes!

And, if you want to go deeper with meditation and mind awareness, get in touch. This is one of my favorite practices to work on with people.

And if you liked this, remember: retweet, repost, forward to a friend!

And lastly…if you want to meditate to my fave music…check it out here
(link)

How cultivating Happiness leads to Confidence and Success

Shawn Achor of Harvard has spent his life studying happiness and its relevance in corporate America as well as corporations around the world. Countless studies have been done to prove that happy workers not only perform better at their jobs, but actually create more profit for the companies they work for.

But, most of us are not CEO’s of Fortune Five Hundred companies. So how can we use this research in practical ways to improve our own lives? After all, if it works for corporate America, shouldn’t it work for us?

Yes it can! By practicing the same principles they do. According to studies, the minimal amount of happy/confident experiences required to increase the likelihood of success, is 3 new experiences a day. But, these experiences must be specific to our own personal preferences. And these preferences are known as, our ‘signature strengths’.

What does that mean? It means at least 3 times a day, you have to consciously engage in different things that make you feel confident and happy. Some examples: admiring the pretty flowers in someone’s garden, complimenting a co-worker, finding the humor in a situation, being grateful for a good nights sleep, learning something new, reviewing your previous successes… The key is, you have to figure out what makes YOU happy and confident and start looking for opportunities to experience more of those feelings on a daily basis.

So what makes you happy? Humor? Love of learning? Creativity? Gratitude? Curiosity? Sit for a few minutes and remember the times you were genuinely happy. What was going on? What were you doing? Did you find something funny about the situation? Were you engrossed in learning something new? Write down all the activities that contributed to your happiness.

And, when did you feel successful? What were you doing and how did it feel? For example, maybe you got the client because you were super prepared and have a knack for reading the room. Then ‘being prepared’ and ‘great people skills’ should go on your list of signature strengths. (If you want to get scientific about it, go to viasurvey.org and fill out their survey…its fun, fast, and free!)

Some of you still might think that pain and struggle is the only way to success and all this happiness talk is nonsense. Well, just to inspire you even more, here is an interesting experiment done by Margaret Shih at Harvard. She gathered a group of Asian women of the same IQ and administered a math test. But, before the test, she told them that because they were women and generally women are bad at math, she didn’t expect great scores. Not surprisingly, the women scored low. Then, a different test was administered. Only this time she told them that because the were Asian they were expected to do well because Asians are culturally better at math. You guessed it…they scored high!

Another test at Harvard, involving Doctors, proved that Doctors primed with happy feelings before seeing a patient, yielded more accurate diagnosis’ than those Doctors simply going from patient to patient. I don’t know about you, I’d rather have a happy Doctor see me the next time I’m sick!

Science has repeatedly proven that the happier and more confident you feel, the more likely you are to succeed. (and thus Corporate America has jumped on board because success = money!)

So…what if you primed yourself to feel confident before going into your job interview, pitching your project, sitting down to write, or dealing with your children? The key is to remember what makes you happy, and remind yourself of the great skills you already have (rather than what you lack).

So…think back to the times you were most happy. What was going on? What were you doing? What made you feel awesome and confident?

Get your list of 3-5 things that you can do on a daily basis to feel great, and then do them every day. (I have my list posted front and center on my journal so I start every day feeling positive and confident…and what are my signature strengths, you might ask? Gratitude, Spirituality, Humor, Love, and Fairness. So my day starts with a Gratitude list…every day.)

Again, I repeat, practice them DAILY. And more importantly, practice them purposefully and consistently when faced with challenges.

And…share! Pass this on to anyone you know who could use a happiness boost today! And feel free to share your signature strengths with me!

Attack thoughts…turning anger into peace

We’ve all been there…wagging our finger at someone who we feel need’s shaming. But, as Marianne Williamson says, “It’s not our job to police the universe”.

But sometimes it feels like it IS our job!

Sometimes, someone does something that hits all our angry buttons at once and we not only fly off the handle, we hold onto that anger and stoke it like a fire. Anything can set us off if we’re triggered the right way…unconscious drivers, obnoxious coworkers, demanding family members…personal or not, there are times when we get overly upset and feel the need to rant and rave.

Whether it’s your boss, spouse, parent, child…we all have had the experience of been so angered that we start an entire make belief fight with them in our mind. Usually this involves you being vindicated in some way and almost always leaves them feeling ashamed and feeling horribly remorseful.

If this sounds familiar, it’s important to take a “time out” for yourself and notice the endless loop you are in. Whether it’s in your head, or on the computer as you rewrite an angry email over and over…however it’s transpiring, notice that you are stuck in an anger rut. (And don’t sent the email!)

Then, ask yourself how YOU are feeling. If you want to prove them wrong, that’s an indication that you feel you were let down and wronged in some way. It’s a signal that somehow, your expectations were not met. If you want to make them feel ashamed, take a look inward…are you ashamed of something yourself? Did they hurt you in some way? The desire to hurt someone else almost always comes out of our own feelings of being hurt.

First question to ask yourself: will confronting this person help me in any way? Will it open up the channels for communication, or will it lead to more negativity and failed communications?

If there is something you can do about the problem, I recommend taking at least 3 deep breaths. Then, respond respectfully and proactively rather than knee jerking a negative reactionary thought. And, if you feel like you will likely still overreact, go home and address it tomorrow after you’ve had a good night’s sleep.

If however, you know you are being irrational and want to let this go, there are a few things you can do to transform your feelings of upset into a more peaceful mindset.

#1. Ask yourself: Do I want to keep these attack thoughts? Can I find the place inside of me where I can genuinely say “I don’t want to feel this way towards them.”?

Then ask:

#2. Am I WILLING? Am I honestly willing to give up making them wrong over and over again in my head? Another way to ask that question is…what do I have to give up in order to let those thoughts go? What am I hanging onto?

Chances are, you will have to spend a good amount of time answering these questions. This is where journalling can be a huge help. It keeps your mind focussed in the present rather than drifting back into your anger again. You can clearly see your assumptions and your thoughts and then more easily find the place in you that’s ready and willing to drop this negative thinking.

Then what? Let it go. Some people visualize their thoughts in a balloon floating away. Or drifting down a stream or getting swept up in a breeze. For some people, just stating out loud “I am willing to let this go. I am now, letting this go.” is enough to feel peace.

However you do it, just do it. And then, when those feelings crop up again, (because they usually pop up again a few more times), you can kindly remind yourself that it’s actually in your best interest not to dwell on those thoughts anymore. You’ve examined your feelings on the matter and would rather feel peace, than anger.

As you know, I always like to start small. Start with the person that was so engrossed in their smartphone that they failed to look before they stepped in front of your car. Yeah, that unconscious idiot…start with your attack thoughts about them. Go through the process of asking if keeping these attack thoughts are helping you feel good. Find out where within you, you could be willing to let those thoughts go. And then, let them go…
I would love to hear your stories about this!