Thursday, March 23, 2017

You'll never look at food the same way, again, if you do this...

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Raisins....... yay or nay?

Who knew Raisins could be so transformative?
I've never been a big fan of raisins. They sort of creeped me out. So, when Cory emptied bags of mini boxes of raisins on the table during the class I attended this past Sunday, I wasn't thrilled but I was excited for the exercise (If you did not receive the email I sent out about the class, you can read it here).
Let's rewind a second: if you are new to receiving my emails, this may seem like a strange email. I agree. But hear me out before deleting and spamming me! Most of my emails are short, sweet and inspirational. This one will be a little big longer, as there is a lot of information here.
So, the purpose of the raisins was to learn about Mindful Eating. This is a practice that brings us back to the present moment and allows us the unique opportunity to use all of our senses and really pay attention. So often, we eat on the fly, shoving food in our mouth almost unconsciously, not even tasting or enjoying the food or experience. And, often times we eat to fill voids, not because we are actually hungry. Through Mindful Eating, we learn to pay attention to our body's signals, messages and needs while also discovering how beneficial a simple practice can be (for those of you wanting to know some benefits of Mindful Eating, click here for a Google search that will bring up plenty of articles with information).
So, what was this practice we did in class? It was really fun; I actually felt like a little kid and almost giggled in excitement and curiosity and amusement.
These were the instructions:
* Pretend you are an Alien visiting this planet and you've never seen raisins before.
* Take a raison out of the little red box.
* Hold it in your hand, examine it with your sight for a few moments and find words to describe it. Mine happened to look like a brain!
* Next, use a pointer finger to touch and feel the raisin. What does it feel like? What are some words you can use to describe it?
* Bring the raisin up to your nose and smell it. What does it smell like? How would you describe the smell?
* We laughed as we did the next part, because it is really weird and silly to think about hearing a raisin, but try it out, anyway. Some people said they heard crackling and popping.
* Last, we put the raisin up to our lips and held it there for a second. By this point I was actually looking forward to eating the raisin even tho I never liked raisins! Cory asked us to pay attention as our tongue and lips participated in bringing the raisin from lips to mouth. Then we chewed and tasted the raisin, slowly, paying attention to the sensations and whatever came up for us.

So, what is the point here?

After this exercise, I was sort of alarmed at how unconsciously I eat my food. With 3 kids at home, half the time I am chewing what's left of my food that I haven't given away, carrying a baby, cleaning up and waitressing for the other 2. I have little to no involvement in the eating process, let alone enjoying it or being present in the experience of it. This little raisin changed the way I view food and my daily activities which look more like sleep-walking on autopilot than living. I thought to myself, "Wow, who can stay unhealthy when they practice mindful eating?" For one, we learn to eat when we are hungry... (what a foreign concept!) and not just to fill a void with junk food, or have an emotionally/boredom-induced overeating session (guilty!).
Ironically, I lost my sense of smell and taste due to congestion and a cold the day following the course. At this point, I began eating foods for nourishment alone since I couldn't taste anything anyway (lots of green drinks I don't normally like). When my taste and smell came back today, it was exhilarating and I am so grateful for all these senses we get to enjoy but often take advantage of.
We spend so much time unconsciously living life, we don't even realize we are driving to work, eating food, or showering. Our mind is elsewhere, our thoughts are scattered and often not productive or helpful. A simple practice like Mindful Eating (even if we just try to practice it here and there) can curb so many of our vices, and eradicate sources of unhappiness. Like I mentioned in my last email about Mindfulness Meditation, the benefits to practicing Presence in your everyday life are enormous and backed by much scientific data at this point.
You are here to live your life, boldly and authentically, and to experience the world through your senses. Your physical body gifts you these amazing privileges and while we are here, why not enjoy what we can? There will always be hard days, challenges to overcome, and pain... but we can choose with every new breath to become aware, mindful and cherish the everyday moments in our lives.
I'll be reporting my real-time results from my commitment to Mindfulness Meditation everyday until the next class Cory teaches in April. So far I am only on day 3... but I am loving it now that I actually gave it a shot. The power lies in the shift of focus and awareness, and detaching from all those nagging thoughts that normally rule our day.
Let me know your thoughts and experience(s) if you care to give Mindful Eating or Take Five a try!
Sending love and light.
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