That word up there? The title of this post? That one little word, I am realizing, is going to be one of the keys to my life. To my happiness. To my ability to maintain a healthy weight for the rest of my life. I am sure if I went through my blog posts back to the very beginning, I would discover that this is not the first time this word has appeared on this blog. Nor will it be the last.
Wikipedia has this to say about mindfulness:
Several definitions of mindfulness have been used in modern Western psychology. According to various prominent psychological definitions, Mindfulness refers to a psychological quality that involves
bringing one’s complete attention to the present experience on a moment-to-moment basis
paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally,
a kind of nonelaborative, nonjudgmental, present-centered awareness in which each thought, feeling, or sensation that arises in the attentional field is acknowledged and accepted as it is.
Mindfulness is something that I
don’t do very well, haven’t made a priority in my life, for a number of reasons. It requires me to slow down and pay attention to myself, my circumstances, my feelings, my thoughts. That is uncomfortable for me because I’m not used to it, and it feels like a lot of effort and a lot of time to me. Another reason I avoid mindfulness is that mindfulness and denial cannot coexist! And, if I’m being honest, sometimes denial is a lot more comfortable than awareness. Or, if it’s not comfortable, exactly…at least it’s not painful. Which mindfulness can be. I’ve talked before about how I have used food to disconnect with my feelings or circumstances, so if I’m using food like that, you can imagine that choosing to be mindful…to fully experience the feelings that I was trying to avoid to begin with…well, that’s a toughie for me.
I’m realizing even as I type this post that part of the reason I have avoided the practice of mindfulness in my life is fear. And if you know me at all, you know this does not sit well with me. I believe that fear is the opposite of faith and love. I want to live my life from a place of faith and love, not from a place of fear. So here we go…realizing that means I have to give this mindfulness thing a shot. If for no other reason than I refuse to let fear win.
I wonder where the fear comes from, though. And I wonder, at what point in my life did I go from the utter and complete mindfulness of the way a child experiences life – fully in the moment! not worried about the future! experiencing every sensation, feeling, and experience as it comes! … well, when did I go from living like that, to living without really living? Just skating by? Not really experiencing every moment, but sort of…surfing on the wave of life in a very passive way? (And yes, I realize that this whole post is a grammatical nightmare. Sue me.)
I feel like I’ve been having a series of mini-revelations lately. Not really new revelations, but reaffirmations of things I know, but haven’t fully embraced. Things I’ve realized but had forgotten. Add this one to the list. The posts I’ve written lately are coming from a place of introspection. And, to be honest, some fear. I haven’t shaken the 15 years of obesity from my mind yet. There’s a part of me that is afraid this is a dream. That I will wake up and never have lost the weight. Or that I will gain it all back again, because after all – that is what I do.
Well, not anymore. What I do is keep going. Do the next thing. Put one foot in front of the other. Experiment – with workouts, with food, with all of it. Acknowledge the fear, but refuse to allow it a place in my heart or my decision-making process.
This is not a short trip with a destination. This is for life. And that is why this time is different. I’m in this for life. Ups and downs. Good and bad. Hard and easy. Whatever it takes.
Right now, what I know is that part of what it will take is slowing down. Being mindful. Being in the moment more often than not. Experiencing all of what life throws my way actively, rather than passively surfing along and getting by. I don’t know yet exactly how I am going to embrace this whole mindfulness thing. But I want to do it.
This is where you come in. Do you practice mindfulness or a similar discipline that requires you to consciously live each moment of life? Any good books or websites you can refer me to? Tips for how I can incorporate this practice into my life? Stories about how practicing mindfulness has changed your life?