“The practice of mindfulness is very simple. You stop, you breathe, and you still your mind. You come home to yourself so that you enjoy the here and now in every moment” – Thich Nhat Hanh
Why does this matter?
Because after decades of research and billions of dollars spent researching human diet and nutrition, we know very little for sure and almost nothing that can be applied across entire populations other than perhaps “everything in moderation”. And even that doesn’t work for everyone.
Because many of us will continue to seek a “program” that tells us what to eat, when to eat, how much to eat, and how to move in order to achieve an idealized body or improved sense of well-being. And while this may be fascinating and helpful science for a professional athlete (or anyone else) dedicating their daily life to maximized human performance, for most of us it further complicates the most natural of processes: eating food and moving.
Because in the pursuit of such a program, many have stopped paying attention to the direct sensory experience of our highly evolved body, and with that we lose a basic understanding of how our body functions. We give priority to an idea; if I eat no carbs I will lose 20 pounds” instead of direct physical experience; “when I eat less of that I feel lighter and less bloated in my gut”. Or a person; “Eat this miracle food and melt away the pounds!” instead of your own senses; “my skin looks better when I drink more water”, or ” I sleep more soundly on the days I get some exercise”. (Both adequate hydration and sound sleep are components of health and weight loss.) This loss of awareness of our body is profound and dangerous.
Mindfulness is the opposite of abstract thinking. Being mindful is simply immersing yourself in the direct physical experience of the moment. Paying attention. It is a coming home to your self – your body’s wisdom – and becoming the expert in you. It is a skill you already have, and one that is vastly underused.
Consider the possibilities. Instead of undertaking a losing battle with counting calories or grams, overwhelming yourself with trying to understand and abide by conflicting nutritional values and recommendations, “good” food vs. “bad” food, evil ingredients, guilt, ideals…what if instead you ate mindfully within thoughtful guidelines, and developed your ability to know exactly whether a food served you well or not?