A Life-Changing Skill That You Can Easily Acquire
In my last blog I talked about a life-changing skill – the practice of mindfulness.
When I first heard about the idea of practising ‘Mindfulness,’ my initial instinct was to put this down to just another touchy-feely, woo-woo concept, without a lot of substance. And that it would be seized upon by the legions of people always on the lookout for some sort of new salvation.
Well, I quickly found out how wrong I was and, with some adaptations to suit my life and lifestyle, I was converted into a big fan of this simple and effective idea.
I’d like to take you through some of my own experiences and insights because I believe that they can be so positively life-changing.
Mindfulness is the process of purposely, and non-judgmentally, focusing on what’s happening in your world in that present moment. You often hear professional sports people talking about being in the moment. Exactly the same idea.
Life is complicated and stressful for many of us. We are often locked stressed over minor…or major…incidents, or distracted by some event or other. These thoughts occur all day, every day. And, because you’re concentrating on the current thought, you’re missing out on so many of the precious moments and things in your life by not ‘being present.’
Well, we all go through that, multiple times in any one day. And you can’t be “present” in every, single instance. So my key variation on the concept of mindfulness is to learn to be present only when you really need to.
Applying that to eating habits, by stopping to check if you are ‘in the moment ‘ when eating, you’ll equip yourself with a valuable and helpful skill.
Eating and drinking is simply a fantastic part of our lives. Imagine your favorite meal and then think about the time and effort you make to pull it all together. To fully enjoy that meal, you really need to be present. But often meals are eaten on our laps whilst we are watching TV or using one device or another. A great meal deserves better than this…. and so does the person who prepared it!
If you’re not fully present while you are eating, you will be missing out on one of the key moments of your life. A chance to socialize with your partner or family around the dinner table and to celebrate and enjoy the tastes and textures of your meal. If your mind is on other things, if you’re multi-tasking or distracted while eating, you may just bolt down your food without really registering that you’re eating. You may not even really taste it, your mind is on other things.
Multi-Tasking isn't always a positive thing
I know that I sometimes miss out on the full enjoyment of my breakfast because I’m doing the newspaper quiz or looking at some interesting article. I know its not to everyone’s taste, but I really like my avocado and Vegemite on wholegrain toast. I look forward to it! But I get engrossed in the quiz, then I look down at my plate and find its all gone, without having registered the taste and texture of it. I miss out on the real enjoyment of this meal, by not being in the moment. Funnily enough though, this is never a problem when I am having a cold beer…because I’m socializing with friends or family and relaxed enough to savour the taste of the beer.
It might be your habit to read or listen to the news when you eat breakfast or dinner. Its the only time you have during your busy day for your news updates. Maybe you check your emails while you eat your lunch. Or you always eat a particular snack when you’re watching sport on TV. But you can’t remember what you had for dinner last night, or whether you ate one bowl of crisps or two during that last exciting game on TV.
If this is familiar, and you feel that you’re missing out on the enjoyment of your food, happily the solution is very simple. Before you eat any meal or snack, make a resolution to stay in the moment and, yes, eat. Put your phone aside, turn off the TV, put down the newspaper… if you still read a “real” newspaper… Just eat. Enjoy your meal, taste it and savour it. And chat with your partner, family, colleagues or friends.
If you’d like to mindfully add years to your life (Maltyy), get started right now with this small step. Stay in the moment while you’re eating and enjoy your meals and the company of your friends and loved ones.