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Some Thoughts On Mindfulness

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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.

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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    Wow, it sounds like you were quite the prodigy! No, I never did that narrating thing. I was always silent, not thinking at all, just being in the moment, like a zen thing. I think it's neat that you did that, though. But I like what I did too. I would like to think a lot less, like I did then. It would make things simpler.

    Kudos on rediscovering a hidden part of your childhood and learning how to eat a little less. That sounds so amazing and beautiful! Way to go!!!!
    30 days ago
    What a great blog. Makes me smile to think of you learning to read at the age of 4. Who taught you? How did you learn? And why? (Food for another blog!). I loved to read as a kid too, my parents even wondered if I was normal, given how much I'd read and how absorbed I'd get. I thought the books told me about life and how to live it. I thought this about children's books with fairy tales but also about Lanny Budd which I also read when I was too young to understand it, and the books my father read about war and about perishing at sea. I never realized that most of those books were not meant to be 'educational material'! I just got the idea that I must be weird, being so different from all the characters I read about!

    I don't really recall that kind of mindfulness when I was little. When I think back to the age of six the memories that come up first are of being frightened, a lot of the time, really. The family I grew up in was dysfunctional so human interaction scared me... another reason to delve deeply into books, as a distraction. The world seemed safer when I hid behind a book.
    104 days ago
    When I was a kid, I used to watch myself brush my teeth and try to do like I had seen demonstrated at school and the dentist. I would get in trouble for the toothpaste splatters on the mirror... I don't know when or where we lose this but it is a great thing to try to hold on to. Thank you for sharing with us.
    105 days ago
  • no profile photo GREYTDOLPHIN
    Wouldn't it be great to know what our babies are thinking? When I think way back, I realize that I'm basically the same person as I was way, way back. I used to watch and analyze what I was seeing around me. I'm still accused of being too analytical---mainly by people who would prefer someone who didn't think and would go along with what they wanted. Love your blog, very insightful.
    111 days ago
  • JUNETTA2002
    111 days ago
    Loved your blog, BEATLETOT! And I loved imagining you as a child narrating yourself through your day. I always enjoy whatever you write--blogs, comments, messages--and I can see now that your way with words was with you from the beginning.

    Since you ask, I didn't do that and wasn't precocious at all with words. I remember being so jealous when upon arrival in first grade my friend/rival Jeanne (whom I didn't know well because she lived out in the country on a farm) could already read very well and was constantly being praised by the teacher. I asked my mother, "How come Jeanne can already read? How come I can't read?" And my mother explained that Jeanne's five older siblings probably had a lot to do with it. But my mother was an elementary school teacher herself, so it did occur to me that she herself could have prepared me a little better. (As you say, young children are narcissistic, and my jealousy of Jeanne in the early days of first grade is still a vivid memory.)

    So I wasn't very verbal, but I think I get what you mean by mindfulness. My mindful memories are more tactile. I can feel the cool St. Augustine grass as I lie in our front yard, I can taste the blades of grass I put in my mouth, I can smell the dirt under the bricks I pull up to discover a colony of slugs, I can feel the dive-bomber bluejay's violent peck on the top of my head as I approach her baby that to my delight I see on the ground in front of me, not realizing that it has fallen out of the nest. I remember so vividly looking up and sensing the velocity of that angry bird. All of this stuff made a big impression on me back then, but the same things would be less memorable now, I admit. I would have to write it all down, as you mention in your blog. I forget things so easily now, due in part to overload and in part to memory loss. But grownup life, especially with all the recent technological distractions, makes it seem to me that I have less time to write stuff down. I think this is an illusion, however. I just need to decide my priorities more clearly.

    Loved your blog, my dear, and I laughed at the "Where am I? Who am I?" vignette. I can relate! Take care.
    111 days ago
    emoticon On being a featured blog, I enjoyed it too!!!
    111 days ago
    Interesting blog - I tend to reflect on childhood but not sure if I do it the same way - but it is nice to reflect and refresh some good memories of when we were young
    111 days ago
    Interesting. emoticon
    111 days ago
  • no profile photo BONDMANUS2002
    111 days ago
    Wow, it is amazing that watching your child inspires you to be mindful!
    I love Joseph Goldstein's dharma talks.

    111 days ago
  • DSJB9999
    emoticon emoticon Fantastic, I must try this to continue my healthy eating programme. thanks emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon
    111 days ago
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    111 days ago
  • MARTHA324

    Never thought of it that way and happy for the reminder to be more mindful; not just what I'm eating (or not) but of the world around me.
    111 days ago
    I do remember self-narrating as a child. Enjoy the fresh perspective or might I say re-awakened perspective that fresh eyes bring to us. Enjoy that little guy of yours and the gifts he's brought to share. emoticon
    111 days ago
    I, too, am working on mindfulness. I find it hardest at meals--to pay attention to what I am eating rather than put something in a bowl and eat it while I am reading.
    111 days ago
    Very thought provoking blog. Raising children give one a whole new prespective of life if you have the inclination to be mindful about it. Grandchildren adds to this prespective; at least that has been my experiences.
    112 days ago
  • AURA18
    Wonderful message emoticon emoticon
    112 days ago
    Interesting thought to narrate to yourself as you're eating. It zooms the camera lens out to allow you to see yourself objectively. I may give that a try. Thanks for sharing!
    112 days ago
    Awesome blog! emoticon
    112 days ago
    I like the idea of narration.
    112 days ago
  • L*I*T*A*
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    112 days ago
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