Some Thoughts On Mindfulness
Monday, January 28, 2019
One thing I've noticed since I've had a baby is how my perspective of my own childhood has changed. Not in the overall sense, but I seem to recollect memories that I hadn't thought about in a lot of years. Oddly, it's not like my baby is of an age that I remember, but I see the way he notices EVERYTHING, and I remember how I used to notice everything, too, for example. I should write more of this stuff down, but I'm always too tired to do it.
I'm also frequently struck by how not unique my experience on this earth is. Whenever I think of or do something strange, I realize at some point that it isn't strange at all. Normally, this happens on Reddit, which is essentially a giant message board. I'm constantly seeing posts from people who I understand completely, because I've been there, but I didn't know I wasn't alone.
So maybe you also remember being a little kid and just noticing everything. Patterns, numbers, which stair creaked when you put your foot in which spot...
I'm reminded also in trying to figure out how to lose these last pounds the role that mindfulness would and should play in losing weight. You know, if you pay attention to your body, you might not want to eat the chocolate for dinner, instead of the soup you planned. Or, if you actually do listen to your body, and you do in fact want to eat the chocolate instead of the soup, with mindfulness, you can also tell your body that you're eating the darn soup. With mindfulness, you don't wake up from a seeming trance with an empty bag of chips in your lap wondering, "Where am I? Who am I? How did this bag get here? And how did that episode of 'House' end?"
You pay attention to what you are doing and know you are doing it. Joseph Goldstein, one of the teachers in my guided meditation app (Insight Timer-highly recommend!) often says things like this in his sessions, "Sit and know you're sitting. Breathe and know you're breathing." And this to me is the perfect description of mindfulness.
Which brings me back to these memories of my childhood.
I was a big reader when I was a child. I learned when I was four, and I read anything I could get my hands on. Because of this, I had a really solid vocabulary from a very young age. Add to this that children are very self-absorbed and narcissistic, and it doesn't surprise me that I remember very clearly using this vocabulary to describe my life in my head. I would narrate myself all the time. "I step carefully into the bathroom, closing the door slowly behind me. I step up to the sink and examine myself in the mirror..."
Note I did not say that six-year-old me was a very interesting person, or that my narrations would have won a Nobel Prize in Literature. But maybe you were an interesting person. I no longer think I am in any way unique, so tell me, do you remember doing this, too?
I rue the day I lost this skill. This was true mindfulness in action. I'm trying these days to get it back, not in a constant way, but for a few minutes at a time, almost a meditation as I'm moving and doing. The bonus is, when I practice while I'm eating, cooking, or anywhere near the kitchen, it keeps me from overeating, because I'm being mindful. I say, "She's hungry...or is she? No, she's bored. She steps away from the refrigerator." Or, "I take my last bite and squeeze the moisture out with my tongue and the roof of my mouth" (hey, masticating is pretty gross!).
The other bonus is, it makes me feel young.
Just like I'm six again.