Mindful Techniques You Might Have Not Yet Heard About
We have all already heard about meditation (if not, check this post). But how about mindful seeing, mindful listening or mindful eating?
Mindful seeing is a very simple exercise, requiring only a window with a view. The technique consists in looking out of the window at things outside without labeling and categorizing -
instead of thinking “bird” or “stop sign,” try to notice the colors, the patterns, or the textures. Pay attention to every movement you can see - the falling leaves in the autumn, the movement of the grass. Notice the many different shapes. [source]
How many times have you spoken to someone and noticed he or she got distracted easily? Mindful listening is an important skill and a mindfulness exercise. We are, in fact, social beings and we thrive when we are fully “heard” and “seen”. This exercise is evidently done between two people or in a group. First, participants think of one thing they are stressed about and one thing they look forward to. When they are ready, each participant shares their thoughts while others should pay attention to how it feels to speak and listen, how it feels to talk about something stressful as well as how it feels to share something positive. After sharing the thoughts, each of the participants should answer simple questions such as: 'How did your body feel while sharing negative or positive thoughts?' Wouldn't it be wonderful, if every conversation would follow this pattern?
I've found myself often just shoveling food into my mouth without actually noticing it. Who hasn't? But while reading this life changing book, I am much more mindful about the actual act of eating. Because it's not only about the food we eat, it's also about how we are eating (and who we are as eaters, for that matter). Mindful eating, or whole body eating, is a simple practice of eating with awareness. It can be done each day regardless of the diet you follow. With five simple steps you can change from a stressed eater to a mindful eater and avoid some common issues such as bloating.
Step 1: Make a conscious choice to eat: Are you really hungry or rather bored? Will food satisfy your hunger or would it be better to simply step outside to breathe some fresh air?
Step 2: Ask your body what it wants: Before you reach for any food, take a few deep breaths and ask your body what it really craves. Maybe you are only thirsty? Or a warm soup would do? And yes, there are times when only a slice of a chocolate cake will do.
Step 3: Eat with awareness: maybe the most important of all steps. Instead of shoveling the food in your mouth, taste it, savor it, pay attention to it, see how it makes your body feel. The French have a wonderful name for people who savor their food: 'gourmand'. Be a gourmand and fully 'experience' the food. Without fully experiencing the food, our body might feel undernourished, and even after a full meal, we might still be hungry.
Step 4: Listen for feedback: Sit quietly after your meal for a few minutes (or hours when you live in France, ha ha). Take a few deep breaths. Did the food satisfy you? Do you feel satisfied or sluggish?
Step 5: Release the meal: Once you have finished eating, let it go. Forget about it for a while. Don't obsess if the meal wasn't healthy or it did not match your diet.
To learn more about Mindful Eating/ Whole Body Eating, I highly recommend to read the above mentioned book.
Once you try some of the mindful practices mentioned above, let me know how it went in the comments.