The concept of mindfulness comes from Zen Buddhism. At Zen monasteries, there are very specific rules about which foot you use to enter a room, which direction you turn, etc. It is a level of incredible attention. Another definition of mindfulness is maintaining a moment-by-moment awareness of our thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations and surrounding environment. Whoa! That’s a lot to process. Another way to look at is that mindfulness is simply paying attention. Ok. But why pay attention? What can we get out of it?
Take eating for example. How does it benefit us to pay attention while we eat? Ever eaten a whole bag of chips when you’re not even hungry?
Ever sat down with a meal, and your laptop or a good book, and then all of a sudden looked down and realized that your plate was empty? That would be mindless eating; you’re not aware that you’re even eating, nor are you aware of what you’re eating. You don’t get the satisfaction and satiety that a meal should provide.
By being mindful of what we’re eating, by literally paying attention to what we’re eating, we don’t consume more than we need, enjoy consuming more, and are satisfied with what we have.
Geneen Roth, the renowned author of Women Food and God, When Food is Love and many other excellent books, has given us The Eating Guidelines to incorporate this practice in our daily lives:
1. Eat when you are hungry.
2. Eat sitting down in a calm environment.
3. Eat without distractions. Distractions include radio, television, newspapers, books, intense or anxiety-producing conversations or music.
4. Eat what your body wants.
5. Eat until you are satisfied.
6. Eat (with the intention of being) in the full view of others.
7. Eat with enjoyment, gusto and pleasure.
Other things to consider while eating are the food itself; focus on the flavor, the texture, the smell.
Notice how the flavor fades as you chew. You can also consider the energetics of the food; how it was prepared, what is its essential character, it’s temperature and composition.
With a little effort, you can bring mindfulness to every aspect of your wellness journey. It’s just a matter of paying attention.
– Contributed by Trainer Michelle