Today my counselor challenged me to practice mindfulness. For those of you (including me before today) who don’t know, mindfulness is the act of being mentally present, in the moment. It is tailoring your thoughts to what is currently happening to you. What are you feeling? What are you tasting? What are you smelling? What are you seeing? What are you hearing? My counselor thought mindfulness might help me because I am often obsessing about the future and experiencing anxiety. She suggested that I start with one activity that is usually part of my daily routine. Brushing my teeth, washing my face, and eating are all routine daily tasks I identified as opportunities to practice mindfulness. STOP right there. You had me at food. I took on this challenge with eating expecting it would not go well because, you know, constant thoughts running in my head.
Remember that one time in 8th grade you fell in front of everyone? What was that I needed to get from the store? Wow, I need to clean behind the fridge, BADLY! Etc. Etc.
I pushed forth with preparing my food, overthinking how this would go and that I was going to need a lot of practice to be mindful.
My first exercise with being mindful with food began by pouring a glass of a red blend wine I had lying around, sitting at the dining room table instead of the couch to watch my shows, and putting my phone where I could not reach it. The first smell of the wine was glorious. I could almost smell the jami-ness those sommeliers always talk about. The first sip was of sweetness chased by an acidic spiciness. I thought, “hey I am getting the hang of this wine tasting thing. If only I could do better at it so I could understand.”
No sooner did this thought go through my head did I say to myself, “Stop!” That very thought was not consistent with me being in the present moment. Let’s bring it back in. Why don’t we try some brown rice? Have you ever truly thought about the texture of brown rice? A snappy outside leading into a creamy center. I could taste every grain of salt, pepper and garlic powder I had put on top. I was paying attention to how my food tasted. Brown rice has never tasted better. This got me to wondering, “does America have a problem with obesity because none of us stop and taste our food, and therefore have to have higher fat, salt?”
Oops! I just got off track again! No need to solve America’s problems while enjoying my meal. Let’s get on to the chicken. The first bite included some skin. Oh boy my favorite part! The crunch! The flavor! Wow, wow, wow! I was very impressed with my cooking skills. Then I cut into a bone. Yikes. Did I actually do a terrible job of cooking this? How am I gonna impress anyone with my cooking skills if I feed them a chicken like this? STOP! We don’t need to worry about this right now. This chicken is good with or without an errant bone in it.
Practicing mindfulness for the first time showed me it might be all it’s cracked up to be. To think about how each piece of food I was consuming how it exquisitely impacts ALL of my senses, not just taste. What a different experience. Sometimes I start eating and then I look down and it is gone. I have actually thought, “hey! Who ate my food?!” before. Tonight, I came out of eating dinner HAPPY and satisfied because I had truly enjoyed my meal.I highly suggest giving mindfulness a try while you are eating, working out, driving, or anything! If you have any questions let me know! Or make an in-person or virtual appointment with our health coach!