How is it that when I want to be mindful that I think about everything else except what I want to be focusing on? BUT when I just want to be “brainless” I’m all of a sudden very aware of what I’m doing, feeling, thinking, etc?! What gives?!?!
This didn’t come up out of no where. A couple of weeks ago I was blessed with the opportunity to attend a Mindful Eating Event hosted by FoodieMcBody. It was a great and very eye opening event. I was there with a room full of about 10 other people and I realized I felt very alone. We ate in silence without eye contact and I realized that I don’t normally do this because I didn’t like the feeling of feeling alone. I’m not going to give it all away, I HIGHLY recommend if you are ever in the Bay Area when she hosts this, that you attend in person! Of course you leave something like that feeling empowered and inspired to want to live the rest of your life like this–eat by candle light every night, sit down to dine, one bite at a time, put down your utensil after each bite, etc. But reality is, that doesn’t happen! I ate about a cup of food that night after have a very full and active day and I felt completely satisfied. For the next two weeks, my mind felt like I should eat myself out of house and home! Often not even remembering how much and what I even put in my mouth–let alone how it tasted–kinda like my eating out of the peanut butter jar yesterday!
Then I had 10 miles to run last Sunday–during which I was very mindful and aware of how my legs, lungs and (in general) whole body felt while running. I heard every pound of my feet on the pavement, every breath in and out, and person pass me along the trail. I felt every tightness in my calves, quads, hamstrings, and burn in my lungs. Starting out, I could have sworn I heard every tick of time going by–SLOWLY…much like my speed. And then I thought…”How is it that I’m so aware of all this while I’m running but I’m so unaware when I eat?”
Have you ever thought about or asked yourself that? Am I alone here too? Don’t get me wrong, I’m NOT trying to deter anyone who’s thought about trying running to not try! I LOVE running and there isn’t anything I’d rather do (I think that’s pretty evident being that I’m approaching on completing my 7th in 14 months this weekend)! Running is very much a mental activity while at the same time not. I have been on runs where I literally have almost closed my eyes while running because I’ve gotten so relaxed–head to toe, inside and out. It’s like meditating but easier–in the sense of hitting that happy non scattered place in your head. In that sense, it’s that aspect of running that I’ve become “addicted” to. After completing my first someone asked me how I liked it and how I was feeling now. When I paused to think about my answer, I realized I hadn’t had a long run since my half and I missed that “happy place” that long runs take your mind to! I say it in jest but it’s kinda true, running gives you a sense of a high that you really keep wanting to get back to. Training for long runs teaches you how to physically get there but once that becomes a natural movement for you–knowing you pace–you are able to get to that quiet place and enjoy the run!
So I guess I’ve kinda answered my question here…In order to be as mindful eating as I am a runner, I need to set up those routines so I don’t over think so much and can just sit down (that may be the hardest part to implement right now) and enjoy my meal. I can eat until satisfied and not be concerned that some child somewhere else is going to starve because I didn’t join the “clean plate club” that meal. I can stop and enjoy my food and not be worried, sad, or concerned about what’s going on outside of that very moment. I can enjoy and learn to stop, pause, and be aware/present in that very moment and OK with whatever may happen at said moment.
I think to help, I’m going to continue to read up on this with the book Savor by Thich Nhat Hinh which informs readers about mindful living and how it relates/impacts our eating. I may be at a point of maintaining my weight, but I know what got me to my highest…it wasn’t ONE piece of cake, pizza or bag of chips. It was my relationship with food and the practice of eating/dinning. That fear of the unknown–as small or simple as it may actually be. That not wanting to feel the pain, sadness, anger, etc so turning to food to numb it because mentally it was unbearable. Running has taught me more than just how to run (because I never was good at it…I nearly passed out after my mile run to earn my Presidential Fitness award in 8th grade!); it’s taught me how to be mindful, present and aware. Running has taught me how to feel, be ok with what I feel, and that I’ll survive whatever it is I feel.