Eat Mindfully the Length of One Song

My Mindful Meal

This week, I was a speaker on my favorite topic; Putting the Oxygen Mask on Yourself First for Ventura SCORE, this wonderful nonprofit organization that provides mentorship for small business owners from retired business executives who donate their time. The topic was of course on Work-Life Balance. I am curious to know what that means for you? What do you conjure up when you hear those words?

Anyway, we were three speakers, each with 30 minutes to share on our topic. What I found wonderful was how, the lineup had been decided even before any of us had submit our topics, and yet we were lined up exactly in the right order that you would want to hear the content we all delivered.

Speaker 1: Manage Your Energy, Not Your Time
Speaker 2: Living Your Life to Your Fullest Potential (all about different ways to harmoniously balance stress/long work ours etc.)
Speaker 3: ME! Putting the Oxygen Mask on Yourself First

I will admit, I was nervous. Now, I have LOVED public speaking for over a decade, and can talk in any sized room whether it be 3 people or 300 people. BUT, I was still nervous. I’ve been a fundraiser for so long, that I can speak on that topic ad nauseum, but until lately my forum for speaking about Oxygen Mask has been all virtual/digital. You’ve all heard me go on about it here, if you know me personally, you have heard me share face to face, one to one, if we are friends on social media, or if follow my page The Breathing Space on Facebook then you have heard me talk about this.

This was only the second time that I had spoken about this to a live audience and had never done the presentation along with the slides I prepared; only because they asked me for slides! hahahah!!

Anyway, I had decided that I would just go up and be me. And it turns out, that when I have an audience, I can be a ham, I can be funnier than I think I am in real life, and I can totally be myself. The response was wonderful; people were laughing, participating, sharing and asking questions. What more can a speaker want?

OK, so what has this to do with the title?

That afternoon, I went to Namaste Spiceland to get chai and a simple lunch. As I was waiting for my meal of daal, roti, sabji I tuned into the music that they were playing over the speakers. It was of this deep voice, the voice of Amitabh Bachchan – India’s most iconic movie star whose stardom transcends generations. I couldn’t follow along with the Hindi, but just that sound of his voice, and the words that I couldn’t make out, but recognized from the movie that I loved so much as a child. My food arrived, and I sat enjoying it, savoring the hot, sweet spiced milk chai absorbed in the music of my youth. I didn’t realize the impact of that music on my soul, till I started to tear up as I listened to the soothing voice of my favorite Bollywood star. The food, the music, being surrounded by familiar smells, sounds and sights of my childhood and youth; I was completely immersed.

So what has this to do with the presentation that evening on Oxygen Mask?

So glad you asked. Let me tell you.

As we were talking about Mindful Minutes, I asked for examples of how they could incorporate what we were discussing into their own lives. How can you incorporate mindfulness into your over-committed days someone raised her hand and volunteered; when you eat, just eat. Just savor the foods, don’t talk, don’t watch TV, don’t work, worse of all, don’t drive!

YES! I exclaimed! YES indeed.

And I was able to recount my afternoon experience of my mini trip to India through all my senses.

Believe me when I tell you, if I am not with a donor or a potential donor, most afternoons my lunch is a protein shake drunk at my desk. I work right through lunch; but not because I am trying to over work – because I allow myself to leave work earlier as a result. It’s worth the trade off to be with my kids earlier.

But here’s what I really want to share. Yes, life is busy. Yes eating at the table is a luxury.

But what if you did that once or twice a week, JUST for the duration of ONE SONG (2-3 minutes)? Imagine this – you get to pick out your favorite song/s and then just as you sit to eat, you turn on the music — and allow yourself to be immersed in the experience of food and music.

So today’s call to action for you is to see if you can, just even once sit still and eat, for the duration of one song (remember it’s just 2-3 minutes) before you jump up to do 15 other things.

Will you write and tell me if you try this?

Stop and Taste the Coffee

Today I was fortunate enough to spend the day at a leadership retreat in the company of some incredible emerging leaders. We heard from some incredible facilitators, coaches and speakers. Since it was an all day retreat we were provided breakfast pastries with coffee and yummy lunch by Freebirds in Isla Vista. The interesting dilemma for me was that I LOVE having a hot beverage in the morning – it doesn’t have to be caffeinated, but I do need that ritual to be fulfilled. I had run out of the house and hadn’t had a chance to brew my own decaf coffee and looked forward to a cup. So, I decided that I would allow myself my very first experience with caffeine in over 6 months. Now, since I’ve been doing the 30 day fit kit, I had to eliminated caffeine, alcohol, peanut butter, dairy, gluten, soy and processed sugar. Most of these were easy enough to eliminate – but for me my Sunday morning staple breakfast usually is baguette and French Brie – that was hard to give up – as was the occasional glass of wine or Belgian beer! Caffeine was an easy one for me…so when I partook in the caffeine this morning, even though it was just about 8oz – I ‘felt’ it. My head actually felt fuzzy, I almost felt like I had had too much alcohol the night before and I was paying the price. It was the oddest most uncomfortable feeling. It made me realize that now, as I re-introduce gluten, dairy (just for the baguette and brie), and soy (LOVE edamame) I should really watch for the effect on my body. This program is a natural detoxification that allows you to reset your metabolic thermostat and eliminate allergenic (peanut butter, soy), addictive (caffeine, alcohol) and acidic (gluten, dairy) foods from your diet. Now as I re-introduce them just one at a time, I get to see the true effect these foods have on me and whether or not I should stay away from them for the long haul.

We are so busy in our lives that we never stop to smell the coffee, let alone analyze the affect that it has on our body. Lately, I have become a huge proponent of mindful eating; it’s a great way to get full sooner – that is, you end up eating a lot less than you should/would. We are such an instant gratification society – we want food here and now and we want it when we want it. We get impatient at a restaurant when the waiter takes longer than usual to bring out our food – they’re as impatient to get you out so they can turn the table over to a new set of diners, as you are to eat and get out of there. Even when we’re taking the time to have a night out…we’re in a hurry to eat and run. Maybe that’s because as parents of young ‘uns we don’t really get to sit down a lot. In my house, we all eat at the breakfast bar in the kitchen that only has 3 chairs and so I always end up standing and eating – especially since I’m feeding the little one simultaneously in the high chair, to the point where these days even when I don’t have to feed him – I end up standing and eating my meals because it’s such a habit…one that I am committed to breaking!

All of this to say – that if you can take a few minutes to sit down with your meal in front of you – look at your plate and absorb with your eyes what you see in front of you; after all we eat with all our senses, not just our taste buds. When was the last time you spooned glop into your mouth even if you were promised it was as tasty as lobster? It needs to look, smell AND taste good! If it doesn’t we won’t even take a bite of it! My daughter is proof of this hypothesis – I offered her something that I knew she would like – an Indian lentil, a different one than what she usually likes and because it looked different and not too appealing, she refused to try it. She wouldn’t even smell it!

After you’ve appreciated the aesthetics of the food, THEN taste it; and when you taste the first bite…savor it. Try and isolate flavors – pick out spices, enjoy the textures, chew slowly and a lot. My grandfather always said – chew your food as many times as you have teeth!

And you’re thinking – is the woman mad? I don’t have time to do this every day for three or more meals a day! What if I told you that if you did this for every meal for a week you would lose 10lb (you won’t)? Or what if I promised you that if you did that, I would send you a check for $1,000! (I won’t) – but my point is, you would find the time, and make a way to do it. So do it for yourself! Do it because it will make you healthier in the long term, because it will help you eat less and feel full for longer, because you will develop a new appreciation for food apart from it being a source of nourishment. Do it because it will cause you to slow down just a tic. In our fast paced life- where we barely even take the time to eat lunch, or we eat at our desk while working- if this is the only thing that slows you down, then how can that be a bad thing?

To borrow from Nike…Just Do It!

Bon Appetit