Week 6: Mindfulness & Meditation

Week 6 down, only 2 more to go! Yikes!

I know we skipped last week, but I needed a mental break from just about everything to catch up on everything that I had fallen behind on. I definitely hit my breaking point last week, pushed too hard, fell so far behind, and needed to let go of the pressures that I was putting on myself. No big deal, took a break, moved on, got over some things, and now we are back on track!

Naturally, each week, I never know what I want to talk about and share with you all. I tend to wait to the last minute to write this post not out of sheer laziness but because I try and hone in on one theme, feeling, or emotion that is happening in my life during this week of teaching training and expand on it in hopes that it can relate to you all in your own personal lives even though you may not be going through yoga teaching training. 

This week I am talking about mindfulness and mediation

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This idea dawned on me when I was sitting in my friend Jamie’s car as we were rushing (if my life had an action verb to describe it, I would pick “rushing”) across town to get to yoga training. I had taken class at 4:30 PM, then she and I took a class together at 6:00PM, giving us only 20 minutes to change, maybe not look like a sweaty mess and more like a human, grab dinner on the go, and somehow miraculously beat the Google maps ETA time of 35 minutes to get to the studio for our prenatal training across town.  We sat in the car both venting how we just feel that we are always in a rush and would just love one moment where we aren’t thinking about our next step. 

Think about it, most of us…wake up in a hurry to get to work on time while eating breakfast in the car or on the train, arrive at work, become engrossed in our tasks while we once again shovel food into our bodies at lunch simultaneously checking emails, Instagram, the internet, and a million other things that are asked of us, then realizing it’s time to leave work, slamming the office door shut, running to catch the train or get in your car, driving with speed or walking heavily, getting annoyed when people are moving too slow, and for me, I need to get yoga class or training, you might need to get somewhere else. For me, I finish my yoga classes or training and get home around 11 PM eat dinner or whatever is in front of me while I am watching TV, getting ready for bed, packing my life away for the next day, thinking about the one million things I didn’t get done, clean up and maybe sit for five minutes all at the same time. Go to bed, wake up, start the same routine the next day. 

We are on autopilot, completely unaware of what we are doing to our bodies and ourselves.  

This is where mindfulness and meditation comes into play. With mindfulness, I am talking about how you eat (but it can be with anything, how you treat others, yourself etc) and with meditation I am not talking about dancing around a fire pit and chanting, but I am talking about being fully awake and aware of your body, your thoughts AND being OK with silence.

To start, I am not telling you how to eat, because I am not into the latest diet trend or fads, but for me it’s all about being more aware of what I am eating and putting into my body. Maybe it has to do with the amount of health issues and pain that I’ve succumbed to for many years or the way that my body feels when I eat a certain way, but this is just how I do it- no diets, no starving myself, and no negative relationship towards food.

How many times have you used food as a distraction, a comfort, or stress relief? It is so easy to turn to food to fill whatever void you are feeling in that moment- sadness, excitement, stress, anger, or anxiety- in hopes to alter that moment- not thinking about what comes next. Guilty!

So, how do we be more mindful about our eating habits, how does this even apply to yoga, and does being more mindful change the relationship we have towards what we eat?

Think of it this way, everything that you eat does one of two things- energizes you, providing you fuel for your day or it drains you and makes you want to take the biggest nap on your couch.  We know this right? We intuitively understand this; knowing what is good for us and what is not.  So, why do we ignore this? Our rhythm of life is becoming faster and faster, so we really don’t have the same awareness and the same ability to check into ourselves and/or once something in our lives becomes uncomfortable instead of trying to face it head on, we numb the discomfort and succumb to our cravings.

That’s why mindful eating is becoming more important. We need to be coming back to ourselves and say: ‘Does my body need this? Why am I eating this? Is it just because I’m so sad and stressed out?’ ”Will this make my body feel good?” "Is this nourishing my body?"

     Think about what's on your mind when you are eating certain foods. 

Essentially, you should eat for what works for your body. Today, there is so much conflicting “advice” from the Internet or Instagram telling us how we need to eat, but in reality you can figure it out yourself or from an expert that you trust. You know what makes you feel good and gives you a sense of lightness and energy. 

I think that the biggest things to take away, when it comes to mindful eating is be aware of the environment in which you are eating (in front of the TV, in your car, while on your computer), listening to your body’s signals, (your cravings, emotions, true hunger) and then shift your focus to eat consciously by learning to trust your intuition. It’s not about depriving yourself from the foods that you love, but it’s about finding balance. You’ll be more attuned to what your body needs and begin to have control over what you are eating versus the food having control over you.

OK, B, so you learned this from yoga? Kind of yeah. Practicing yoga every single day has taught me to become more mindful, especially when it comes to eating. Why? It's so essential to my practice and everyday life. Every single time I show up to my mat it is a direct reflection of what I did and ate the day before. Too little sleep? Too much wine? Not enough greens and too many heavy foods? Yeah you will feel it. You'll want to change what you are putting into your body so you change what you get out of your day. Eating well is so important to keep up with this hectic schedule that I am currently living right now. So, what if I don’t practice yoga? Re-read the paragraphs above and see where you can slow down, stop what you are doing, and think before you act, re-act, and do or how you show up to others.

So, how does meditation work with mindfulness, mindful eating, yoga, and daily living? Pretty much everything. Let’s tie it all together.

We already figured out that we are moving 100 miles per second, adding too much to our to-do lists, and finding ourselves standing in front of the fridge wondering how we just polished off an entire bag of cookies without even realizing it.

But, when I talk about meditating I am not talking about sitting in a circle holding hands and chanting, I am talking about being aware and fully present of your thoughts. To me, that is meditation, allowing yourself to cultivate a quiet consciousness. It is the act of moving from doing something to doing nothing, but being aware.  It allows you to take a step back, gain a new perspective, and gain control over the things that were cluttering your mind. You’re creating space in your mind to let these problems melt away. You'll notice that these issues start to seem insignificant because you have changed your perspective, not because the problems have disappeared.

Meditation is about mindfulness. Being present to what is in front of you right now at this very moment. Being present with any discomfort, pain, excitement, anxiety, or any emotion that we are feeling, and listening to our intuition. Trusting our intuition and strengthening that relationship. It’s almost like stepping on the brakes of life, slowing down, and dealing with the issues head on and not taking that right hand turn the other way.

Yoga has helped me with this in a way that I can't begin to explain. It seems that nothing bothers me anymore and no problem is as big as we make it out to big- it's all in our heads. Dealing with any issues head on in that moment instead of ignoring the situation allows for less over thinking, a clutter free mind, less stress, and a less reactive / explosive attitude. Stop over thinking, stop worrying about what is to come in the future, and be present about what is happening right now. If there are issues you can't fix or control, let them go.

Set an intention for the day when you wake up, let go of any expectations that you may have, and trust that there is a greater force out there that will guide you. Begin to notice your thoughts, but don't become them. Observe what you are thinking and then separate yourself from them... 

 

What I am loving this week:

1. Tula Skin Care products: They are made with probiotics! I love the exfoliating treatment mask and have been using it a few times a week and love how soft my skin has been feeling after using the products. Ps. Tula means balance in sanskrit...I think these were made for me!

2. These pants with this top.

3. I know this post is about being mindful, but I did say balance is key as well. @ambitiouskitchen always has the best desserts.

4. Obsessing over this & begging my whole foods to carry it almost every single day.

6. Forget the bread and use a sweet potato as the toast for your avocado. Katie from @honestlynourished has the right idea! I have to make these.

7. Black Bean Chipotle Heuvos Rancheros for your next weekend brunch from my friend Lyndsey @lyndsey_eden. You'll just fall in love with her.