How to manage your weight, your health..and a lot more, with mindfulness

Mindfulness is all about focusing; about paying attention in the here and now, in a detached and non-judgemental way.

Go to the profile of Frances A Masters
Feb 28, 2016
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It is both the art and the skill of 'being present'; of being aware of our awareness itself.

It is a way of being truly conscious.

So many of our responses are unconscious; if we are not careful, much of our life can be lived on a kind of autopilot; caught up in memories of the past or imaginings of the future and not really ‘here in the now.’ The things we do unconsciously or automatically have the power to control us and can mean also that we make bad choices.

This is very true when it comes to eating.

Do you really want that biscuit?

How easy is it to open a packet of chocolate biscuits and, before you know it, half of them have gone.

It's as though you have been in a trance-like state; as though someone else is eating the biscuits. And, much of the time we are not eating the biscuits because we are actually hungry, but are looking for something else.

Eating the wrong things or just eating too much can happen as a reaction to external triggers that raise uncomfortable emotions for us. We seek to make ourselves feel better; to calm ourselves down or to self nurture. Many people eat when they get stressed or feel lonely or sad. They are looking for comfort and a quick fix.

And many people make poor food choices because it has simply become a habit.

Savouring

It might be a biscuit with a cup of tea or a cake with coffee or a bag of crisps with a late-night glass of wine. These patterns and habits get reinforced on a daily basis and can make us pile on the pounds over time.

Mindfulness can help us to make healthy choices, so we can ‘step back’ from habit or automatic reaction and helping us to respond with emotional intelligence. Mindfulness allows us to pay attention to our food so that we are fully aware of it; how it looks, smells, tastes, feels and how our body responds to the eating of it.

Mindfully eating a meal will slow us down, helping us to chew properly and savour the meal. Many of us eat far too quickly; barely tasting what we are eat and certainly not taking the time to really enjoy the food. It can allow us to be aware of whether we are actually hungry at all, or are simply eating to ‘swallow back down’ some uncomfortable feelings.

Being mindful also allows us to have a sense of what our bodies really need to stay healthy and make good choices around food. Eating a raisin is a classical mindfulness practice that brings our full awareness to ‘savouring’. It can be done with any food.

Doing the exercise regularly will help, not just to slow eating down, but to begin to make good choices about what, when, and just how much to eat; and to actually savour the food itself.

Just one raisin: Eating mindfully

Holding

Choose a raisin and place it in the palm of your hand or hold between finger and thumb. Focus your attention on the raisin. Be curious, as though you have never seen a raisin before and it is completely new to you.

Seeing

Allow yourself to really look at the raisin. Give it your full attention and allow your eyes to explore every part of it. Notice where the light shines on it; where the folds and creases fall in to shadow. Notice the shape and uniqueness of this raisin.

Touching

Now begin to turn the raisin over between your fingers or in the palm of your hand, exploring the texture, perhaps even closing your eyes to bring up your sense of touch.

Smelling

Bring the raisin up to your nose and, as you breathe in, inhale the fragrance, aroma and smell. You might also be aware of changes in your mouth or digestive system as a result of doing this.

Hearing

When you bring the raisin up to the ear and roll it between finger and thumb, does it make a sound?

Placing

Put the raisin to your lips and have an awareness of how your hand and arm do this. Place the raisin in the mouth and explore the texture of the raisin with your tongue.

Tasting

When you are ready, prepare to chew the raisin and consciously take one or two bites, noticing what happens, savouring the taste as you chew. Continue until you are ready to swallow the raisin.

Swallowing

Become aware of your intention to swallow the raisin before you swallow.

Following

Continue the awareness exercise as the raisin makes its way down the throat and into your stomach. Scan the body as a whole for a sense of its response after completing this exercise in mindful eating.

Go to the profile of Frances A Masters

Frances A Masters

Psychotherapist, Coach, Writer. Live your best life.

Do you want to be happier and more resilient? Some people seem to just 'bounce back' no matter what life throws at them. We can't choose many of life's events but we certainly do have a choice about how we respond. My passion for mental health began 25 years ago when I suffered postnatal depression and realised the help I needed simply wasn't there. The pills didn't work. In fact they made things worse. What I really needed was to understand how anxiety, depression and emotional ill health can develop. I needed to learn good 'mind management' skills which would act like a 'psychological inoculation' against future problems. When I recovered, I made a decision to find out how and why I had become so depressed and made a personal pledge to do something to provide the kind of help for others which I had needed. I wanted to prevent people suffering unnecessarily. So I embarked on a personal and professional journey and, along the way, developed a brand new approach to health and well-being. My journey began with four years of traditional counselling training, followed by a postgraduate diploma in psychotherapy. I studied cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) neuro-linguistic programming (NLP), hypnotherapy, coaching and cognitive neuroscience. I built up 30,000 hours professional experience which I brought together into the new happiness and resilience programme l named 'Fusion.' I also wrote a book about how to resolve post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), founded a therapeutic coaching charity and trained volunteers to work in this new way. This training programme would later become the nationally accredited Fusion Therapeutic Coaching Diploma and Distance Learning Skills Certificate. Now... The journey continues. Now I want to reveal all my professional secrets about good mind management to as many people as possible through social media and by training Fusion Breakthrough trainers from all over the world. One of them could be you... Something new.. Something different.. Something which lasts.. What if you could experience one day which could actually change your life for good; giving you your own eureka moment; not only helping you create a vision of the life you want to live, but actually give you the real skills to get there and stay there? Fusion is a tried and tested system which combines the best of psychotherapy and coaching into a powerful new formula for lasting change. My aim is to help and empower as many people as possible to feel their best, be their best and live their best lives. Perhaps I could help you too....

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