Chew on this


mindful eating

I never thought squash could be so mesmerizing.

So I’m wrapping up my second week of the Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) class at the UCSD Center for Mindfulness and I started to understand what mindfulness really means. It’s not some yogi sitting on a meditation pillow detached from the world. It IS a practice that when we actually do it, frees our soul to experience true joy in moments and feel grounded in our bodies.

It’s about being fully in the moment, not worrying about the future or feeling guilty about the past. It’s about showing up with no pre-conceptions or judgments. Mindfulness is about being comfortable in your skin, being ok with silence, being at peace with the relentless thoughts in your head. Realizing and defining  all of this was the easy part. Practicing it is wicked hard part!

One of the first exercises to help us experience mindfulness was to do mindful eating. Where you use all 5 senses when eating. No checking your email with one hand and shoveling the food with the other. It’s about slowing down to look at your food, smell, taste, listen, all of it. So that vibrant yellow squash bobbing in my soup became a juicy, nourishing morsel instead of that blob I gotta move away so I can get to more interesting stuff.

How busy moms can make time for mindful eating

Well free time is a rare as a yeti sighting for us mamas. But I have made time to try mindful eating. This does not take an hour. In fact I just did this for the first few bites of a lunch. It’s that simple and dare I say fun. Here are some tips that helped me:

  • Being alone helps. Again, as rare as a crayon-free square inch of my wall but still possible. Being alone will free you from distractions. And a cell phone counts as a distraction. Have a love affair with the airplane mode.
  • Breathe before eating. Mindfulness is about being the moment and stopping to breathe is the quickest way to get there.
  • Look with beginners mind.  The concept that you arrived at each moment with no expectations is the beginners mind. So seeing food with no judgment or expectations is key. Look with playful curiosity.
  • Really smell. Take a whiff and see if you discover a new aroma that maybe you have overlooked before.
  • Hear your food. Ok that is a weird one. Does it make a sound? If your food makes a sound in the forest when no one is around, does it really make a sound? 🙂
  • Touchy feely. Touch your food with an inquisitive mind. Have you overlooked a texture that you never realized before?
  • Slow down to taste. Take one fork-full at a time, what does it feel like, what taste emerges. Chew slow, Enjoy the food.

Surprising benefits

Much to my surprise this exercise was so enjoyable. I got to slow down my multi-tasking world to just be with myself and enjoy some healthy food. A couple things I realized:

  1. I eat way too much. I don’t even eat, I shovel blindly. Meals are often a task I must do so I can move on to the next thing. Even the family dinner with the kids and hubby feels so rushed. I can’t even tell you what I ate. Let alone where my food came from, what ingredients are actually in there. So by slowing down I got to experience my food for what it was and who I was in that moment.
  2. Food is everything but nourishment. If the real purpose of food is the fuel our bodies I have completely killed that concept. Food is entertainment, a good friend, a reward, a crutch, a pacifier, a reason to see girlfriends, whatever. Slowing down to eat it connected me to the food and I felt way more energized by eating it.
  3. Slowing down is the MONEY. I’m not in my body most of the day. I’m running to meetings, rushing home on the freeway, and watching YouTube. Seriously so funny. I didn’t stress, didn’t worry about everything, didn’t overanalyze, didn’t wish I was with my kids, wish I was on vacation, etc. I was with myself feeling content. Ah  contentment, my long lost friend.

Try it, even if it’s for a few bites, mommas and let me know what how you feel in the comments below!

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