I’ve spent most of my life looking at what lies ahead. Well, that’s not true. I’ve spent most of my life worrying about what lies ahead. While life was happening and unfolding around me, I was thinking about ten thousand (rather unlikely) “what ifs” that may have unfolded a week, two weeks, a month, or a year from that point. As I looked ahead to the future, I missed out on moments of rich experience (pleasant and difficult). I could blame this behavior on my genetic predisposition to worrying or on the role that I chose to play in my family while growing up, but whatever the reason, I didn’t know how to (or didn’t want to) keep myself rooted in the present.
In my early 30s, I became aware of the concept of “mindfulness”, which is the practice of being fully engaged in and aware of the present moment without judging it. I’m now in my late 30s and am still practicing and just beginning to grasp this concept. Mindfulness was a huge part of my recovery from Binge-Eating Disorder. With a counselor, self-help books, and guided meditations, I slowly learned how to bring myself back to the present with self-compassion instead of self-criticism. I learned how to use my five senses to let go of worry and remain present with my food instead of mindlessly eating and then berating myself for what I consumed. I learned to sit with my feelings in the moment, recognizing that they would reach a peak and I would not be consumed by them. Most of all, I learned how to be gentle with myself when my thoughts did wander to the future or past. Mindfulness is a practice, not a destination, and it goes hand-in-hand with self-compassion.
If you’re interested in learning more about mindfulness and how being present with your experiences and your emotions can benefit you, check out the following resources:
Mindful.org – http://www.mindful.org/mindfulness-practice
Mindfulness meditations – http://marc.ucla.edu/body.cfm?id=22
Mindful eating – http://www.thecenterformindfuleating.org/Principles-Mindful-Eating
Peace, joy, and health,