Mindful Eating, Mindful Living

2020. The start of a new decade. Time to turn over a new leaf and set some goals.  Let me guess, are “manage my stress” and “lose some weight” on your list?  Consider this: you can kill two birds with one stone by committing to a practice of mindfulness.

“Mindfulness:  paying attention to the present on purpose without judgment.”  We live much of our lives without awareness, unconsciously hustling from one task to the next, attached to the Almighty Check List.  Never mind what is happening right now in front of us, we look to the outcome which isn’t even here yet.  Crazy, right?  If you are feeling frazzled, it could be that you are constantly living in a future that has not yet arrived.  That’s where mindfulness comes in.

Chances are, you are trained to produce results whether it is in your profession and/or your role in your family or your circle of friends.  Our brains respond to this “get it done now” stress by resorting to a “fight or flight” reaction which isn’t just an attitude but a very real physiological event.  You are training yourself to overreact to whatever comes down the pike.  Aren’t you exhausted??

Mindfulness is your ticket to reducing stress and anxiety.  A good practitioner will teach you practical skills that help you stay grounded in the present by simply noticing and accepting what is really happening inside you and around you instead of mindlessly resisting and covering up stress with hurried distraction, overindulgence or procrastination.

Which brings us to that “lose some weight” thing.  What better place to start a mindfulness practice than through mindful eating?  If you look at the big picture, what gets in the way of eating thoughtfully and nutritionally is often a lifestyle full of stress.  Perhaps you have lost weight (again and again) only to gain it back.  Instead of turning to another food plan alone, why not give mindful eating a try?

An easy way to start is with a raisin (or a grape.) (OK, you might want to practice this first time by yourself if you are worried that others will think you have gone cray-cray…) Turn off the TV, put the phone away  and focus on your food.  Approach it with all senses.  As you pick up the raisin, feel its texture: wrinkly? smooth?  See its color: is it really purple?  Now roll it around in your fingertips and smell it. (Yes, I said smell it…with caution. Sucking it up your nostril is not allowed.) What do you notice?

Now put it in your mouth and, without chewing, roll it around and again notice texture.  Slowly begin to bite into your raisin and notice what happens….sweetness? tartness?  saliva out the wazoo?  Chew without hurrying until that anticipated moment when you swallow.  Take a deep breath and notice how you feel?

Now a raisin is a wild and crazy experiment but imagine taking a more mindful approach to eating a meal: slowly, deliberately with as much focus on the senses as you can muster. There is a good chance that eating with such awareness will not only relax you but will also help you to notice when you are full.  Mindfulness is all about mind-body connection and that one little raisin can put you on a path to a better relationship with your food which means better nutrition, less stress about diet and healthy “what’s right for you” weight loss.

Mindful eating is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to mindful living.  Practicing mindfulness skills on a daily basis has proven to be life-changing for me. Learning to be aware of and manage my over-thinking means knowing what to do and what not to do with wise responses instead of knee-jerk reactions. I live with more balance and clarity, knowing when and where I want to put my precious energy.  Instead of spending thoughts and emotions on trying to control situations and people, I have learned to let things unfold naturally and calmly, no manipulation needed.  Being a perfectionist, I am astonished at how far I’ve come, and I owe it all to Ranjit Deora’s Mindfulness Meditation program.

I spent much of my life seeking “the answer” to my ruthless anxieties, including twelve-step programs and private therapists.  While I gained something from all of them, it is through Ranjit’s simple but powerful lessons that I have found tremendous relief and joy.  Sounds cheesy, but it’s true.  I am not a salesperson, I do not mean for this to be a promotional piece, but I can tell you without a single doubt that eight one-hour lessons at Charlotte Meditation have given me tools for a lifetime. Trust me, they can do the same for you and could be the best self-care you give yourself as the new decade begins.  Here’s to a 2020 full of mindful self-discovery!

~Kathy Babula~

Meditation Can Clear the Mind and Create Space

Meditation in Charlotte NC: Why do I need to be aware of my thoughts?

Meditation can be one way to help the mind create space and rediscover a natural balance. All humans go through much of our life on autopilot.

Ever since we were born, there are behaviors which we learn that become more than second nature. We do these with no conscious or subconscious thoughts. Over time, our minds become cluttered with these habitual responses, and we find we have no time or no urge to embrace a fresh and wholesome way of existence.  When we take a step back and use meditation, our minds can be given the space required to seek out the natural balance, the pureness and the one way we can get away from a robotic existence.

What the mind consumes matters more than most
As we go through life, we pay close attention to how we speak to others, how we dress and the way we conduct ourselves. These motions and actions we repeat daily, and have done so for as long as we can remember, and we do so without being mindful, so, we just repeat other days from our existence.

We fall into the traps of aping how other people act, and parrot the way they speak. We all watch the same movies, read the same books, and think that is the way we should be existing.  Our minds fall into an automatic routine, and even if we are aware of what foods we eat, and how they affect the body, we never consider the effect of what we put into our minds. Meditation can clear the mind, and break away from technology and the fast pace of life.

Meditation can help prevent modern stress and anxiety
Each day, every person can have thousands of thoughts. These pop into our mind every second we are awake, and the more of this sensory input the brain consumes, the more the subconscious is loaded with snippets of information.

When we are in a bustling environment, all our senses are shoving this information into the brain, and before it can be dissected, it piles up and becomes a clutter in the subconscious. It is easy to see why our minds run out of space. With additional external influences, these thoughts can multiply to over a hundred thousand, and we still try to take in more.

When we reach this point, we may find we have no time for ourselves, no time for friends or family, and things finally become too much. When this happens, we then try to find ways to address this balance, and in the majority of cases, people never consider meditation as the answer, they seek the assistance of psychologists to help regain their balance.

Charlotte Meditation- learn how to clear your mind
If we become mindful of this, we can take back control without external help. Meditation can help to clear the mind and make mental space available.

The great thing with meditation is it takes so little time to do. You can spend some time each morning before you head off to work, or carry on with your daily activities. If you imagine, you can create a percentage of space for the time you are in meditation.

Fifteen or twenty minutes will give you fifteen or twenty percent of clear space in the mind. This will be as beneficial for you as it will for those around you. You will find difficult problems are easier to deal with, and by doing this every day, you will open your mind to mindfulness. You can find you soon become able to have the time for compassion, and you can use this space for wisdom rather than for a dumping ground of thoughts that bear no use.

These incremental changes from meditation can make large changes in our life and existence. We may still watch the same movies and read the same books as others, yet we now do this out of choice rather than following the trend. Contact Charlotte Meditation to learn more.