Tag Archive | awareness


If you are a compulsive eater, as I am, you know about mindless eating. Maybe you can’t not watch TV or be online while eating. Your hand and fork may be feeding you the next bite before you’ve quite swallowed the first, and you had no idea your hand did that. You might have no idea when you are full, and feel hungry when your body and mind are actually feeling something else (tired, sad, bored, mad and so on). How many times have you just caught the sight of something good — a beautiful dessert, or just a bag of M&Ms at the gas station — and found yourself not choosing to eat but just eating?

I’m teaching a class at the University of Vermont this semester titled MINDFUL EATING. Wonderful that the UVM Health Sciences Department is expanding its offerings to include mindfulness for health and wellbeing. And wonderful that college kids want to learn mindful eating!

What is mindfulness? Mindfulness is being Here, Aware — aware inside ourselves of our body, breath, feelings & thoughts, and aware of our moment-by-moment perception of the outside world.  Here is always moving, like a river, so letting the mind ride on the flow of the breath is a lovely, basic mindfulness practice. And of course, we are distracted over and over again; in fact, the practice of mindfulness is the practice of waking up from distraction, beginning the practice again, ad infinitum. The key here is radical acceptance: whatever is here, it is what is Here right now, and it’s ok, just as it is. The other key is self-kindness and kindness toward whatever arises.

Happily, rich sources of learning about mindfulness abound.
Here are two faves:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3nwwKbM_vJc; http://www.tarabrach.com/audioarchives-guided-meditations.html

And what is mindful eating? Mindful eating asks us to expand the focus of our awareness to all the ways our bodymind is involved in eating: sight, smell, taste, hands, mouth, tongue, throat, stomach. We see the food, smell it, take our time appreciating it before we put it in our mouth. We are aware of how hungry we are, and we can tell when we’ve had enough. We chew slowly, staying connected to body and breath while refraining from engaging in distractions, including the distraction of thinking. We swallow and notice the feeling of the food traveling down to the stomach. We rest and listen to the tummy and its response to being fed. We allow the space and rhythm of breathing to be a part of the practice.

PRACTICE is the key thing. We don’t “get it right” (say hello to the Inner Perfectionist); we don’t “do it wrong (say hello to the Inner Critic). We practice, we have an experience, breath by breath, we are aware and we learn.

Here are two of my favorite sources about mindful eating: http://www.thecenterformindfuleating.org/;   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tmtNPGZYWOI

Interested in learning Mindful Eating? Come in for a lesson anytime — or connect with me online on video!

May you learn to be peaceful about eating and enjoy your food.


Connect Eating with Grace with your long-distance friends and family.

Food and Feelings

In the Basic Eating with Grace group last night, we did a journaling exercise in which you write out the Chain of Events that led to an unhappy eating episode — ate too much Halloween candy; binged on the stale donuts left out at work; work up at 1 am upset about something someone said and found myself chowing down on cold leftover lasagna.

Definition of unhappy: body feels bad after. Inner Critic is merciless: You blew it! How could you? AGAIN??????? (I am leaving the cusswords out here)

What really touched me: two people had nothing in the FEELINGS column. They knew what the behaviors were, what the Critical Mind was saying, even what the body felt, but EMOTIONS? Missing — no words for them.

Many of us grow up in families where emotional feelings are repressed, forbidden, denied, made to feel dangerous. What might happen if we had any idea what we were feeling? Well, remember what actually DID happen and you’ll find some clues about what you are afraid of.

In Cheryl’s family (NOT her real name — I never use names, and always make up stories from fragments of stories I’ve heard over the years, but keep people’s confidentiality sacred) feelings were a threat to her father, who was overworked and suffered himself from some trauma from the war. He had to keep his feelings under wraps. Noisy needy kids who cried or shouted set his jaw and shoulders tight; and sooner or later, he exploded. What does a child learn growing up in that kind of environment? FEELINGS ARE NOT SAFE AND ARE NOT TO BE EXPRESSED (among other things).

So, what we practice in Eating with Grace is beginning to bring a kind, compassionate awareness to the Feeling. Maybe we sit down with a cup of tea. Or lay down on the couch with a warm hand on our heart, or belly (cats and pillows are helpful!) Hello Feeling. I hear you. I hear what you are going through right now. It is ok. I’m listening. We can just rest here and make some space for you.

And resting for a while, we learn that feelings are not really dangerous.  They just need to be acknowledged, felt, accepted, heard.

Take very good care, Anya