Thursday, July 23, 2009

The Wake Up Call

I'm continuing to read If the Buddha Came to Dinner, and almost every paragraph in the book inspires me. In the previous chapter, Hale talked about "pruning" the soul to get ready for new growth. Next, she talks about the "wake-up call." She's talking about the call for change, the call to realize that we must respect and nourish all parts of ourselves with awareness. She talks about worrying about what happens if that call doesn't come, or if we aren't ready when it does come. She likens this "wake-up call" to an alarm clock. "Sometimes the alarm buzzes and we can respond immediately. Other times, we hit snooze. When that happens, the call will come again--you can definitely count on it buzzing again sometime in the future."

The idea that our soul will keep calling and reminding us to take time to nourish ourselves made a profound impact on me. There are some days when I'm too busy to eat mindfully, enjoy the good weather, get to the gym, or spend time with friends. Some days I simply feel too stressed out to take the time for myself, and I wonder if I am missing out. Missing out on life, or the meaning of life, or worrying that I don't even know what I'm missing.

Hale reminds me that if our soul needs nourishment, it will be there when we are finally able to nourish it. It's not a "one-time only" deal--I won't miss out on my spiritual growth if I have to send emails in the morning instead of meditating. Our soul will always be there when we are. And she allows us to be gentle with ourselves in case the call comes and we aren't ready to answer yet...just like the snooze on my alarm, the buzzer will go off again.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009


I've been reading a book about mindful eating called If the Buddha Came to Dinner by Hale Sofia Schatz. Schatz likens emotional growth to gardening, saying that you have to "prune" in order to grow. She wants you to clear out the dead matter to make room for new growth...and urges clients to do some "internal pruning to clear out parts of their lives that aren't nourishing them." What a great concept--spring cleaning for your soul. And apparently both physical and spiritual pruning are cleaning out the closets can be good for your emotions too.

I started to examine what kind of things I have been "pruning" to make room for new growth. I identified a few spaces that were empty already, such as the spot in the morning where I wasn't eating breakfast. This is a great opportunity to stop reading the internet and cook myself a nourishing breakfast. But there are harder choices too when we decide to "prune." What about bad habits? What about people in your life that leave you emotionally drained? Is it possible to prune the biggest patches of dead matter in your life? I can pull a few emotional "weeds" here and there, but the idea of making major changes seems daunting. Do I need an emotional weedwacker or backhoe to get rid of these parts? If so, can I rent it from my local Spiritual Home Depot? I can already think of some major changes that I need to make in order to be truly mindful, yet I have no idea how to make it happen--how to cut back until you see the signs of life among the seemingly dead undergrowth.

I suppose that its just one step at a time, one foot in front of the other. I cleaned out my closets and put some unused items on craigslist to be sold. That's a small step. I get up and go out in the fresh air to exercise. That's another step. I bought my favorite green tea to nourish myself. Now hopefully I can get through some bigger changes in the same way.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Mindful Eating Part 2

Here I am, typing a post about mindful eating while snacking on a bowl of cherries! (They're delicious) Even though I am not in a rush today, I simply cannot separate eating from other activities. I took some time earlier today to reflect on why I tend to eat and work in front of the computer. I think that one reason is that eating by yourself (I'm home alone) can seem lonely at first. This morning I ate breakfast (mindfully) and although I was sitting alone at the kitchen table, I realized that there were birds chirping right outside my window to keep me company. The more I sat and listened, the less lonely I felt.

The other reason is that I feel more productive when I do two things at once. For example, I empty the dishwasher and talk to my sister on the phone, or I listen to a lecture at school and do my homework on the computer. This multi-tasking skill can come in handy, especially at work when the phone is ringing, emails need to be answered, and there are 3 people asking you questions. However, it is impossible to do your best work when you are distracted. I may get more items crossed off of my to-do list when I multi-task, but I definitely don't get the satisfaction of a job well done. I usually leave work worrying that I misspelled words in an email, or gave someone incorrect instructions. It's true that I was able to handle all of the requests at once, and most of the time I don't make mistakes. But I don't feel confident that the work was my best. This can be true of eating too. By rushing and multi-tasking, your body forgets to enjoy the food. Perhaps this is why fast-food tastes good. We get it in our cars and eat it on the way home. There are too many distractions (traffic, kids, radio) to even taste or enjoy the food we put in our mouths.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Mindful Eating Part 1

As you know, I've been reading up on mindful eating. Basically, mindful eating is the practice of slowing down to enjoy and savor your food. The most important things to know for practicing mindful eating are:
1. Don't multi-task while eating. (No driving, TV watching, reading, etc)
2. Allow yourself to taste and savor your food.
3. Enjoy!

I am a notorious multi-tasker, and before I started reading these books I would usually eat breakfast over my laptop reading all the news for the day. I find it hard to sit still and just focus on my food. However, I've realized that my multi-tasking habit was really causing me to just shovel food into my mouth without even tasting it. I didn't take time to appreciate the different flavors and textures, even though I had taken the time to prepare a healthy breakfast.

For example, I just made up a bowl of low-fat plain yogurt, fresh sliced peaches, ground flax, and honey. Yet somehow, as I sat down to enjoy the yummy dish, I ended up just spooning into my mouth and swallowing without tasting anything. After I noticed that I couldn't taste the honey, I slowed down and took one bite at a time. I chewed and swallowed one bite without lifting my spoon for the second bite. Taking these few extra seconds gave me enough time to enjoy all the flavors in the ripe peach and honey. It was great!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

It's Finally Summer!

Wow! Its already mid -July, and I feel like summer has just started. I've spent the last few weeks completing finals for the year and wrapping up some big projects, and now I am really for a little summer downtime. I've picked up a few books to read this summer including "If the Buddha Came to Dinner" by Hale Sofia=Schatz, and "Eating the Moment" By Pavel G. Somov. I'm excited to delve into these books and get a better understanding of mindful eating and the mind-body connection.