Down the drain

Is Mercury in retrograde or something? There has not been a day this week when something has gone not unexpectedly and spectacularly wrong.

An almost fatal misunderstanding with a dear friend. A missed deadline. And now, my sink which, as readers of this blog know, has the unpleasant habit of backing up and exploding for no reason and without warning.

So, first, I swore. And then, I asked myself: why is this happening to me? No, wait, why is this happening FOR me? What lesson am I to learn from this? Is it the universe’s way of telling me to slow down and pay attention to my calendar, my life? Was I short tempered with a friend because I felt needy for a little attention myself and just didn’t have it in me to be more empathetic? As for the sink, it’s a mystery. I have no clue and neither, I suspect, does the plumber.

One of the hardest lessons I’ve ever had to learn is that I can’t control everything. Sometimes things just happen. On the other hand, there are some things I can be more mindful of and correct when I see I am going off course—whether it’s my mood, my appetite or time-management.

So I’m going to call my friend and (gulp) apologize. Make up the work I missed. Call the plumber. Take a breath and work on becoming a kinder, gentler and more efficient version of my { self }.

What’s your go-to mantra?

As we were transitioning from one exercise to another in [solidcore] the other day (yes, this is more work-out wisdom), I got overwhelmed. I couldn’t tell one foot from the other and was just about out of endurance. I thought to myself: “I can’t do this. I’m going to fall over. I. Just. Can’t.” And instantly, the other part of my brain (the part still getting oxygen apparently) said, “Oh, yes, you can. Place your foot on that carriage, engage your core and you can do it.”

Reader, I did it.

Later, walking home on legs shaking with fatigue, I wondered how many times we hear these negative messages in our heads. The self-defeating mantras we recite automatically when confronted with a new challenge or a situation that takes us out of our comfort zone. The “I’m too fat…too old…not good enough…not clever enough” to wear this dress, go for that promotion, assert my wishes” (fill in the blank) statements.

As that delightful Geico commercial shows, “words can hurt.” They can leave damage that holds you back from going after what you can do and what you deserve. They make you feel bad about yourself, your body or your capabilities by reinforcing your worst fears or opinions. Holding you prisoner in a jail of your own making.

How to escape? Be mindful of negative messages. Deconstruct what triggers them and whether or not there’s truth in what you say to yourself. If there is, figure out a solution to the problem. If not, work on ways to overcome what’s basically lazy default thinking that leads to self-sabotaging behaviors. If you’re going to tell a story about yourself, make sure it has a happy outcome!

Can you do this?

Oh, yes. You. Can.


Mind over platter

We are a nation of multi-taskers. Sometimes, that’s a good thing. We get a lot done. Other times—during mealtime, say—it’s a recipe for indigestion, weight gain and misery.

How can you bring order to disordered eating? In a word, mindfulnessliving fully in the moment so you can appreciate what you are doing, eating, thinking and feeling in an objective and non-judgmental way.

To bring mindfulness to the table, start by sitting calmly away from any distraction (we’re looking at you iPad, iPhone and TV). Take a deep breath and:

 - focus on what you are eating (the color, texture, taste, mouth feel) so you can truly savor (and later remember) the experience.

Why it’s a good thing: Food becomes an aesthetic pleasure (true comfort food), not a drug or the enemy. It fills all your senses.

 - eat more slowly and with greater awareness so you can identify the physical signs of hunger, satiety and satisfaction.

Why it’s a good thing: You get to know what your body needs (and find you may not need to eat as much).

 - remember how the food makes you feel before, during and after eating so you can separate emotional cues from actual physical hunger.

Why it’s a good thing: You can pre-empt negative emotions (shame, panic, anxiety) that you may feel around food and that fuel overeating and guilt.

 - make your own informed decisions about portion size and servings so you can take control of what and how much you eat.

Why it’s a good thing: You see food as nourishment, not a way to fill an emotional void or satisfy others’ expectations.

Just getting started on a mindfulness practice? Check out the Mindfulness Daily app, whose prompts and techniques make it easy to incorporate mindful living every day.