Today after a very stressful week I walked with a friend to a mindfulness meditation class. Blame it on the heat, my mood or common sense this was the result.
The meditation class began with the woman going on and on about mindfulness and how it should not be posted as ‘conjuring depression’ as the signs posted read. She tried to describe mindfulness and as someone who has taken 2 eight week Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction courses designed by Jon Kabot Zinn, even I had a hard time following what she is saying. I asked if she followed Kabot method and she said yes but than clarified by saying each teacher had their own method. O.K. true, different person, different style. So I settled in.
One woman asked how she could lose weight using mindfulness. Now I took mindfulness eating and Kabot mindfulness meditation where he discusses losing weight as a small part of the concept. The leader of our group however went on and on how this was defiantly possible, something I had never heard before.
She began to describe in detail how if she had a chocolate bar in front of her she would sit and stare at it or hold it. Thinking how she was feeling. Thinking how she wanted it, shouldn’t have it, how she would feel bad or guilty after, explaining how her emotions would be like a rollercoaster, up and down, should I or shouldn’t I eat it. She said to just sit there and let the wave of high and low emotions wash over you.
I don’t know about you but this sounds like torture. Yes, mindful eating is important, one of the first lessons you learn in MBSR is to taste each bite, savor what you are eating, be more aware of what you are eating and why.
But to the point of anxiety over a chocolate bar?
Finally I spoke up, as she was describing her anxiety ridden emotions (sounded like self-loathing) over the invisible chocolate bar in her hand explaining how if we wait it out long enough, rode the roller coaster, should I, shouldn’t I…..I yelled out…
‘Just eat the chocolate bar’
Seriously just eat the chocolate bar. Why torture yourself. Why stare at something and build up anxiety and self-loathing over a chocolate bar. Yes, I could get all philosophical and go on how it is much more than the chocolate bar that she was resisting. But sometimes, a chocolate bar is just a chocolate bar.
As Deepak said, eat the chocolate bar but be mindful about it and than next time maybe you won’t. By sitting in judgement of yourself, causing stress that is not mindfulness that is a form of torture. What is the point? Need to look at the bigger picture sometimes.
Mindfulness eating is a great way to slow down what you are eating and how much but savoring each bite, cooking your own food, tuning in to why you are eating what you are eating. Sometimes, the answer may simply be because you want to. And that, my friend is perfectly fine.
Eat the chocolate bar, savor each bite, and enjoy the moment. Not everything has to be a battle of wills within ourselves to strive for perfect. You are no less ‘perfect’ of you do or do not eat it. You are no less not practicing ‘mindfulness’ if you eat it or not. The fact that you thought about it, is being mindful.
Mindfulness is NOT for losing weight. Full stop.
Just eat the chocolate bar, smile and move on. Enjoy. Just no judgement or guilt after, you make a choice ‘mindfully’ own it and let it go.
I think I may go eat my chocolate bar now before it melts in this heat.