"mindful: 1. Tending toward awareness and appreciation 2. Cautiously attentive"
Do you eat mindfully? Do you live mindfully? What the heck do I mean, you ask. By eating mindfully, I am implying that there is a difference between eating because you see it, and eating because it will nourish your body. By living mindfully I am implying that you are making every minute count, and being considerate of other people/animals on the planet. (I'm not about to give a lecture on vegetarianism or organics.)
I recently visited an old neighborhood where I lived out my twenties. It was incredibly nostalgic to drive around the familiar neighborhoods and see so many houses and giant trees that I used to walk past regularly. What struck me most, however, was how changed I am since my twenties. Nothing magical or superior to my younger years, just older and more concerned for bigger-scale things in life. For example, in my twenties I spent most of my time figuring out what to do based on what would make me happiest. Though not necessarily a bad thing, one can get obsessive in search of Mr/Mrs. Right. I didn't always take other people's concerns seriously. I spent a lot of time on myself. This might be indicative of many people in their twenties--for sure mine. I did not live very mindfully in my twenties.
I realize now that I am in my thirties I have done a lot more for others than I ever did in my twenties. I was discussing this with someone last night and she asked, "Is it because you are in your thirties now, or do you do more for others because you're married and not always looking for Prince Charming?" I couldn't answer that because I only know my thirties as being married. Whichever reason it is, I live much more mindfully now than I ever used to. In part, I think, because at one point I decided to eat mindfully.
My first exposure to eating mindfully was in an environmental science class at a community college. Up until then I had been aware of eating healthy, but had no idea that food choices affect others-both people and animals. It was one of the biggest turning points in my life (besides when I was 10 and found out that Whoppers malted milk balls came in a 5-pound tub). I learned that I could make a difference in the environment based on specific food choices. It was the hottest topic in my life for many years following. I became a militant food cop. Luckily I chilled out when I realized that no one appreciated my bible-thumping style of sharing. I would have to lead by example, not by my bumper stickers and self-made posters.
Years later, I finally found middle ground in my eating habits. What occurred to me at some point is that all of my food choices led me to begin thinking more mindfully about others and life in general. In my thirties now, I sincerely care about that. I care about others just as much as I care about myself. I don't spend two hours primping in front of the mirror and I don't spend all of my money on new clothes. Instead, I find great joy in contributing money to those in need. I contribute my time and energy to my loved ones, my neighbors, my community and people all across the globe.
I hope this is not sounding preachy in any way. It's not my intention. If you want preachy, rent a time machine and go back to the year 2000 and find me. I was at the height of preaching to the world and telling everyone what they should do. Fire and brimstone upon you if you didn't listen. Or at least a sticker slapped on your bumper.
Why all the chatter about mindful this and that? I was inspired by a post I read this morning called "30 Days of Mindful Eating," written by "A Content Life." It really stirred up my sensibilities. Take a look at the above post and learn the seven different types of hunger. It's very interesting. The information comes from the book, "Mindful Eating."
Do you have a story about mindful eating or mindful living? There are probably very few of us who were raised this way. It seems like the following generations were graced with these concepts, but not mine!