For years I have heard this term “mindfulness” thrown around and I just couldn’t wrap my head around it. I would imagine meditating Buddhist monks and just couldn’t see how it applied to me. Then I heard the wonderful Dr. Brené Brown, a vulnerability and shame research professor at the University of Houston, explain it in a way that made sense.
She explained it in two words: “paying attention”. That’s it. If you pay attention to what you are sensing, feeling, experiencing in the present moment, You. Are. Practicing. Mindfulness. And to take it a step further, acceptance. This is the hard part; oh my, is this the hard part!
Not only do you have to pay attention to the present, but you have to come from a judgement free place. That means turning off the inner dialogue of what is “right” and “wrong” and just being present, allowing yourself to sense, feel, and experience everything…. EVERYTHING. And then accepting EVERYTHING without judgement and for what it is.
Brené’s words deeply resonated in me in the most visceral way, because this is one of the differences between disordered eating and healthy eating. Mindfulness! Paying attention! When you allow yourself to be fully present and engaged in the meal experience, WITHOUT judgement, without negative inner dialogue, you are giving yourself a tremendous gift of joy and fulfillment.
Applying Mindfulness to the Dinner table
For those of you who struggle with your relationship to food and to those who have been diagnosed with disordered eating, I am sure the idea of turning off the negative inner dialogue feels daunting and impossible.
But imagine, just for a moment, how it would feel if you were able to enjoy a meal with NO negative inner-dialogue. Imagine a meal experience WITHOUT inner bargaining, minimizing, numbing, rationalizing or punishing thoughts. Imagine what it would feel like to sit at a table, fully conscious and aware, feeling joy and peace, thinking nothing other than gratitude and delighting in each bite.
This is possible. This is absolutely possible!
Shift the inner dialogue from bargaining, minimizing, numbing, rationalizing or punishing thoughts to approaching your meal with curiosity and child-like wonderment. Notice the colors, textures, tastes of each ingredient you are eating. Describe them to yourself. How do you feel throughout the meal?
- Slow down
- Check in with yourself throughout the meal. How are you feeling?
- Eat slowly and savor the nuances of each food.
- Chew. Really chew!
- Stop when you are no longer hungry.
Comment below! Let me know if how your mindfulness practices are working. Challenges? Successes? I’d love to hear from you!