I decided I’d make an effort to be healthy today. I made myself a nice big salad for lunch instead of having more mac&cheese with mini Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups for dessert. While cutting up said salad I decided I would take a proper break and eat it at the kitchen table instead of rushing back to my room and cramming bites in while I study for my exams. That settled, I was halfway to my room, my mouth stuffed with my third bite when I realized what had happened and walked back to the kitchen table shamefully laughing at myself.
So I sat down and began eating trying to focus on the carrots and lettuce, as I have recently been working on mindfulness.
A few months ago I took on yoga and meditation. I’m always looking for ways to deal with my anxiety, plus I had read somewhere that yoga is great for toning your body. I can lose weight without jumping around my apartment and sweating myself to death?! count me in!! (it has not happened yet).
One of the things my meditation book talks about is mindfulness. That “being in the moment” does not necessarily mean clearing your mind of all thought because that is nearly impossible to do. But rather ironically you practice mindfulness, a state of awareness where you just focus on your breath and the feeling in your body and whenever your mind inadvertently wanders off you follow where it leads and then just pull your thoughts back to the breath. Don’t fight it or get mad at the fact that you can’t do it because there is no it. All you are doing is being aware of yourself and letting whatever happens happen. The book tells you to start small, just five minutes a day and then build it up as you feel you can manage more. Apparently if you practice this regularly it will eventually carry on to other aspects of your life and just generally create a zen mode in your personality (OK the book doesn’t say it like that but you get the point).
So I started a couple months ago and things kicked off to a great start. five minutes after my cup of coffee in the morning or before I went to sleep if my mornings were too crazy. I felt a real difference in my anxiety levels at the start of my day and just felt like I could breath a little better. I moved on to ten minutes and eventually fifteen and then I kind of lost momentum. Which brings me back to today’s lunch.
I lasted around 20 seconds of focusing on the actual eating before my hand itched towards yesterday’s newspaper sitting on the table which I had already read. Adding insult to injury I look over and see my dog sitting calmly while just staring straight ahead (probably waiting for the meat that wouldn’t come..sorry bud..).
Which begs the question : why are we nearly incapable of just being still? of doing nothing. Just being present and fully here? I mean I read a whole book that teaches how to do it, experienced first hand how much happier it made me when I did, and yet I still instinctively opt to re-read a newspaper (which was not very interesting the first time I read it) instead of just being with myself while I eat. How absurd is it that I only managed to stop and smell the roses when I read the book and cleared a set time for practice? And isn’t the fact that there is a book to teach this stuff in the first place wrong? shouldn’t we already know how to do things that are pretty much essential to our well being? I mean OK so it’s not like knowing how to breath or eat, but emotional and spiritual health is not less important then physical. And yet, we continue to create technology that just helps us run away and hide from ourselves.
I am the first one to admit that your own mind is not the most fun place to hang out, and on many days and occasions I would gladly accept an off button. But if there is an OFF button there should be a ON as well.
Feel free to comment..would love to hear your thoughts on this one