Here we are. In the thick of the holiday season. Food is everywhere. Especially sweets. And the urge to graze on anything and everything can be profound. It takes a lot of willpower to resist.
Since I’ve started my meditation practice, it’s given me some tools to be mindful and deliberate in many areas in my life. Of course with me, everything comes back to food. I love it, but have to resist it too. Gah!
Recently, I learned that Heather Sears is exploring how we can be more mindful with our meals. I was intrigued and interested in learning a bit more about Heather and the work she is doing. So let’s resume this ongoing series with the 17th interview of You Pick Six.
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What brings you peace every day?
Moving from my mind being nowhere to now-here. When I bring my attention to the present moment, take a few conscious breaths, and take in life with non-judgmental sensory awareness I always feel a deeper sense of calm and peace. I do this multiple times during the day – it could be at my desk, slicing cucumbers, or even sitting at a stoplight in the car. The repetition of many moments of mindfulness increases the spaciousness in my heart and head, and my appreciation for so many wonderful aspects of my life.
What are some of your pet peeves in the kitchen?
I used to get really worked up when my husband and son would be milling around where I was cooking right before dinner in a hangry state of agitation. Our kitchen is not big so the temperature seemed to increase as the stove heated up and their hunger grew. What I’ve learned to do is to breathe, rather than react. Instead of raising my voice or getting irritated, I now turn to whatever I am doing, focus closely on the slicing or stirring or whatever, and breath very deliberately a few times. This mellows me and I can think of a helpful action to change the dynamics, rather than join into the intensity.
What do you think that most people don’t understand about food?
That our minds create our meals long before any food touches our palate. All of our senses are processed in our mind, which interprets what we take in and connects it to our body, our experience and can spur our actions. And we make 225 decisions about meals every day. A lot is happening before each bite. For example, research is proving that viewing #foodporn can lead to eating more; that being in a bad mood can make food taste bad; that buying healthy food first in a shopping trip can lead to the “permission to sin” and buying more treats afterwards; and that hearing high pitched music can make food taste sweeter. The examples are endless.
We go through a mostly unconscious consumption journey of meal planning, shopping, cooking and preparing our eating space. Becoming aware of the existence of external triggers and internal factors through mindfulness gives us more power to connect to food and ourselves, and create the experiences that we desire.
What is the best meal you ever had and where was it?
Ahh, there have been so many! And actually I’ve realized that when I pay attention and become really present with the food I’m eating and the situation I’m in, even the simplest sandwich in the park with my son can be memorable and nourishing on many levels.
But there is one meal in Bali over 20 years ago when I backpacked through Asia with a friend that remains like Technicolor in my mind. It was chicken satay, eaten at sunset on a beach, with a man playing “Blowing in the wind” on a guitar nearby. The colors, smells, sounds and feel of the air were amazing and distinctive. I remember telling myself to take everything in, moment by moment by moment, because I probably would not be back! So I drank it all in through my senses and wrote a permanent record in my memory. ☺
Tell me about what you’re working on now.
I just released my book “Mind to Mouth: A Busy Chick’s Guide to Mindful Mealtime Moments,” so I’m in the midst of speaking engagements and events! It’s really interesting to hear what women are saying about the content. Almost everyone I speak to has something about their eating habits or mealtimes that they would like to evolve. The research that I share is very surprising to them and the simplicity and effectiveness of integrating moments of mindfulness inspires them to take immediate action. It’s deeply gratifying that they are finding my content can make a difference in their lives.
Tell me about your book.
I wrote the book because I started choking during working lunches when I was rushing and triple-tasking to get things done in order to pick up my son. Mind to Mouth explores the realization that ultimately changed my life: that each bite is the end result of a journey through meal planning, shopping, cooking, and eating, and that a mindful approach to each of these moments has the power to shift everything. I share my research about how to plan, shop, cook, and eat mindfully; create mental space and be more fully present; and save time, energy, and money
Readers will find surprising, insightful data that will help them take ownership of mealtime experiences. As well as learn easy-to-digest mindfulness tips that fit into already-packed schedules. And you’ll see how you really can be both a busy chick and a mindful one at the same time. 😉
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Thank you so much for participating Heather!
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Photos: Provided by Heather Sears.