It’s a month after New Year’s. Did you make any resolutions? Who were the ‘characters’ in the backdrop of your resolutions? A whip? A whistle? A wagging finger? Sadly, most resolutions are broken by Valentine’s Day. It’s not surprising.
The symbolic significance of New Year is incredibly positive and life-affirming – a time to reflect and make goals, to wish our loved ones a year filled with health and joy, to reaffirm our commitment to becoming stronger, better people. But what is the nature of the wishes that we make for ourselves?
So often, clients come into my office with a desire to gain a panacea from the expert, or a strict set of rules to control their eating habits. While educating them about the latest research is a large part of our sessions, it often occurs to me that people already know the answers but do not appreciate the power they have to heal themselves.
New Year is the breeding ground for marketers to create desire. The messages are seductive:
“If you drink this $8 glass of juice, you’ll feel more energetic and you’ll avoid the flu.” “Eat this berry, and you’ll watch the pounds drop off your hips.” “Pound the pavement and you’ll beat the winter blues.”
In this cacophony of media messages are you tuning into you? Are you dedicating time to self-care?
My New Year’s goal is to take more time to be in the moment. Yesterday, after rushing home for lunch (good self-care, no?) I assembled my signature lunch salad: hard-boiled egg, feta, beets, avocado, chickpeas and lots of quinoa on a bed of baby spinach dressed with my homemade balsamic Dijon dressing. Yum! I sat down at my kitchen table to eat before rushing off to my next appointment. As I took my fork to my mouth, I noticed that my feet were angled to the side – ready to leap to my next activity. I slowly straightened my legs, faced them forward to the delicious bowl of food. I closed my eyes and took three deep breaths, appreciating the intimacy of absorbing this nourishing food into my body. I opened my eyes and focused on really tasting the delicious salad. I asked myself which tastes and textures I was most enjoying. Was it the saltiness of the feta, the fresh, grassy feel of spinach, the sweetness of the beets or the raw softness of the chickpeas? I savoured each bite… until my overriding need to be punctual overturned my mindful moment. I transferred my salad from its beautiful bowl into a Tupperware, wrapped a fork in a paper towel and popped my take-out lunch into my handbag. An ideal mindful eating experience? No…. It should not have been truncated. But that was the reality of my day yesterday. I ate the remainder of my salad, mindfully over the course of the afternoon and was happy that I had truly enjoyed the food eaten in response to my body’s needs rather than the external stimuli and emotional distress that so often dictates our food consumption. So yes, it’s a work in progress, but I’ve got the whole of 2015 to work on it. Slow down and savour…. That’s my goal this year!
Instead of focusing on what whipping ourselves into shape, let’s take a kind, gentle, grateful approach to our bodies. Our bodies are wise and love regulation. We’re mammalian and need regular eating and exercise. Move because our bodies love motion, not because we need to burn up calories. Plan meals and have healthy foods ready to eat. Take the time to try new recipes or just the time to make meals that you love. And then, most importantly, indulge in the time to eat mindfully.
* Ahimsa: The Yoga Practice of Non-Violence. The essence of ahimsa is non-violence of our own heart.