Mindfulness

Yesterday, I spent the better part of the whole day in bed, suffering from pain that was very much self-inflicted. I’m not looking for sympathy here. I should have been more mindful of what I was doing.

Mindfulness is something that I find acceptable, noble, and worth commiting myself to, but when it comes to actually being mindful I don’t often get it right. For those who might not know what I mean when I speak of mindfulness, here are a few definitions of the term:

Definitions of Mindfulness

“Bringing one’s complete attention to the present experience on a moment-to-moment basis.” (Marlatt & Kristeller)

“Paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally” (Kabat-Zinn).

“The non-judgmental observation of the ongoing stream of internal and external stimuli as they arise.” (Baer)

“Awareness of present experience with acceptance.” (Germer, Segal, Fulton)

One way that I have mostly mastered this art of being present to experience on a moment-to-moment basis, is in what I eat. When I weighed 120kg (260#), I decided that I wanted to lose weight. To do that, I had to learn to be aware, moment-to-moment, of what I was eating. I had an added incentive to learn this mindfulness about eating, so it was pretty easy. I started by keeping a food diary and writing down every little thing I put into my mouth. This brought me to the awareness of what I was doing with relation to food, and taught me, very quickly where I was going wrong, and how to correct it. The end result being that because I was aware of my eating, I lost 54kg (118#). So, Mindfulness works. You can’t get much better proof than that.

The reason for losing the weight, was health related. I have gallstones, so cutting fat from my diet, and from my body seemed like a good thing to do. It is a good thing to do. In the time I’ve been working at being mindful of my eating, I have had only rare, and mild attacks of gall stone pain.

So, to get back to the beginning of this post: Yesterday I had a gall stone attack. Why? Because over the weekend, I forgot to be mindful of my eating. This wasn’t anyone’s fault, but my own. Ergo, self inflicted.

But it was a good reminder to me about being mindful, of watching and monitoring myself moment-to-moment and being aware of how, and what I eat.

Now, if only I could find a way to get myself to be mindful in other ways.

Do you practice mindfulness? How did you train yourself to be aware?

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