Mindfulness is a word you’ve probably heard being thrown around lately. While it may be new to you, its part of an ancient practice designed to heal the body, mind, and soul of afflictions. Mindfulness can be achieved through things like yoga and meditation. Disciplines that calm down your fight or flight responses and release trapped energy are the gateway to becoming truly mindful.
Mindfulness can help you with any problem you have in life. Those feelings you experience when old pain is hit throughout the body can be healed. You may not realize what you’re storing in your body until it comes up one day without notice. Feelings of loneliness, sadness, or fear can be triggered by things that shouldn’t be threatening. A smell in the air, a car that reminds you of your first love (who consequently broke your heart or a song that reminds you of something you dearly miss.
When you’re mindful, you can begin to work through painful past events. It might sound scary, but when you learn to cultivate the practice and offer yourself compassion, it merely opens up your heart to all possibilities. As I said, mindfulness really can heal any problem you’re having in life. It can even help you deal with food cravings.
Overcoming Emotional Eating Through Mindfulness
When it comes to food, studies indicate that eating disorders and mood disorders have a strong connection. Most of us are lucky enough not to suffer from these serious disorders, but to some degree, your eating habits could be attributed to emotional problems. We are taught that when something is really bothering us, it’s okay to eat a pint of ice cream.
What if instead of eating to numb the pain, you felt the pain instead?
The more you deal with the pain living inside of you, the less vulnerable you are to painful attacks of needing comfort food. The next time your mind screams out, “I want a cookie,” explore how you’re feeling. Were you just experiencing something that was uncomfortable? Maybe you’re bored, lonely, or stressed out. Take a moment and go inside to figure out the core reason for this sudden food craving.
Get on Your Yoga Mat When Dealing with At-Home Cravings
Something that is suggested in yoga teacher training is to commit to one yoga pose. A small commitment is easier to do than a whole hour. Whatever gets you on the mat during a craving is key. With any craving you experience, honor yourself enough to try coping with it in a different way. Create a sacred space in your house so that when a craving hits, you can hit your mat. This is where it’s important to be mindful. You have to be consciously aware that the craving is happening. Mindfulness allows you to make a decision based on your truth as opposed to some fear based reaction.
What I suggest is that while you’re conducting your one yoga pose, you listen to your body. Also, listen to what your inner voice is saying. It might be cursing you for not heading to the cupboard for cookies. If it is, don’t try to deny these thoughts are there. Just let them be there. If your mind starts to conjure up old memories of what chocolate tastes like, don’t fall into how it would taste. Just notice what’s going on and how you’re feeling. All of this will allow you to look over yourself in a sense. Chances are, you won’t eat that cookie or chocolate. If you do though, it will probably just be a little as opposed to a binge session.
Put Your Full Attention on What You’re Eating
Mindfulness is about being completely aware in the moment. This should especially be the case when you eat. If you inhale your food without enjoying it, you will probably be more inclined to eat again later even though you’re not hungry. When you really pay attention to your food intake, you’ll realize that what you’re eating is delicious. You’ll eat it more slowly and become aware that you’re full much earlier.
Mindful eating keeps you away from foods that are processed or otherwise not good for you. When you’re truly aware, you’ll notice how fried foods feel in your mouth. You’ll feel the oil coating which is actually an uncomfortable experience. If there’s something, you truly love like chocolate or something that salty and crunchy, by all means, eat it. Just do so with mindfulness. Why wouldn’t you want to fully enjoy your favorite food with all your heart and soul? How you eat is as important as what you eat.
When you’re eating, turn off the TV and put the phone away. If you have the opportunity to eat with your family, that’s totally acceptable. Just try not to have so many distractions while you’re trying to enjoy your food.
Mindfulness Helps you Eat Slowly
The connection of the gut to nervous system advises you that you’re full. It full process of mouth to gut to nervous system takes about 20 minutes. Within that 20 minutes, if you eat quickly, the brain isn’t going to have the information it needs to let you know it’s time to stop eating.
To reduce the amount of calories you take in, eat more slowly. When you practice mindful eating and appreciating your food, you help the body digest food in a healthy way. You also take in less food while the body is in the middle of digesting. You avoid overeating and feeling lethargic. Instead, you feel satisfied with your food and can enjoy some evening activities.
Mindful eating helps you lose weight in a number of ways. Cravings are reduced, you eat less food per meal, you have increased energy and a more balanced outlook. Mindfulness eating helps you cope with anxiety and guilt that you have when it comes to food as well. You shouldn’t have to wonder if you’ll win the craving battle or have to fight with will power on any given occasion. Mindfulness can help you find the place of least resistance so you can lose weight in a gentle, healthy way.
Meera Watts is a yoga teacher, entrepreneur, and mom. Her writing on yoga and holistic health has appeared in Elephant Journal, Yoganonymous, OMtimes, and others. She’s also the founder and owner of Siddhi Yoga International, a yoga teacher training school based in Singapore. Siddhi Yoga runs intensive, residential training in India (Rishikesh, Goa, and Dharamshala), Indonesia (Bali)