Christina Scalese RDN LD
Mind The Moment
The word “mindfulness” seems to have become some sort of a buzzword nowadays. It must be so easy to be mindful, right?! If that’s the answer to all of our eating issues, stress, and our overall wellness shortcomings, well - sign me up! I’m not so sure it comes that easily, though. When I Googled this buzzword, here are the two definitions that popped up:
1. The quality or state of being conscious or aware of something (OK, I can grasp that.)
2. A mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique (What’s that now??)
Let’s pick apart that second definition a little bit. Mindfulness is a mental state you accomplish by focusing on the current moment. Got it! But why aren't we achieving this mental state more often? One of my all time favorite quotes is by Sharon Salzbert, “Mindfulness isn’t difficult, we just have to remember to do it.” We just have to remember to do it. Let me take a step back for a moment. Think back to when you were first learning to drive a car. You had to remember to check your mirrors and put your foot on the break in order to adjust the gear, right? You even had to be told to do it by your parent or instructor. Now, fast-forward to today. Those steps happen automatically, right? Well, why is that? By repeated practice, you learned what you need to do in order to get your car to move. Now it’s habitual. Your brain just knows what to do without you thinking about it. So can you achieve the same thing with mindfulness? Perhaps the more we practice it - the more someone reminds us to do it - the more we begin to train our minds to be in the present moment. The practice of being mindful or present, starts to become habitual. Your body and mind may just start to unconsciously know to use the breath to come back to the present moment in times of stress, anxiety, or - on the other end of the spectrum - joy.
OK, back to definition #2. You have to accept your feelings, thoughts and sensations. Sometimes it takes me a second to comprehend things, but from my own personal experience, I’m thinking that it might be quite difficult to accept your feelings and thoughts if you aren’t OK with your feelings and thoughts. There are two key words missing from this definition. You need to accept these thoughts, feelings and sensations without judgment. Can you learn to be non-judgmental of yourself, what you are thinking, how you are feeling, what you are eating (or want to eat)? Can we release judgment from those parts of us and just accept that sometimes we are going to think and feel a certain way? Can you imagine the proverbial weight that would be lifted off your shoulders if you didn’t judge your own thoughts - or how about your cravings for certain foods? We spend our whole lives being taught not to judge others, when we’re overlooking the most important person to be kind to - yourself. When you are noticing, or acknowledging that you have certain thoughts, can you be OK with them? You know...just be OK with them. How much of our time is wasted feeling guilty in one way or another? The fact of the matter is you may be feeling or thinking a certain way as a result of something else, and you just likely need to explore what that something else is...and that’s OK, too.
If you can learn to accept yourself and your thoughts just as they are, you might have a better shot at this mindfulness thing. I have a strong feeling that once you learn it, you’re never going to want to let the practice go, as it can open you up to a whole new view on life.
I like to use the teachings of yoga - acceptance, non-attachment and non-judgment - combined with personal experience to encourage mindfulness, but for you it may feel like it’s easier said than done. So, don’t mind me, just make sure you mind the moment.