For me, mindfulness is easiest during the daylight hours. At night, sometimes even the power of Three Breaths is insufficient to counter my automated eating.
What can be done when distractions have grabbed hold of your mind and are so intense that you no longer see what your body is doing?
Waiting 15 minutes slows down your scattered brain so you can gather up the pieces, returning with full attention to a participant life.
Don’t attach strings to the 15 minutes. No promises of waiting out the rest of the day, no claims of I’ll be “good” this week, and certainly no proclamations that you will make perfect healthy choices every evening for the rest of your life. In fact, don’t make a pledge to choose well after you wait 15 minutes. Just wait and see what happens.
Afterwards you may find that a craving subsides or that doing something else is now more appealing. Sometimes you decide that yes, you really do want to eat the that cookie – and it was very good thank you very much.
The important thing is that you are making a decision instead of running on autopilot.
Mindfully Waiting is a practical mental tool for those times when you really couldn’t say how many chips you ate, how many glasses of wine you had, or how long you played on-line solitaire. It costs nothing, takes no special equipment, and is three step simple:
- Pause, take the Three Breaths
- Check the time, and wait 15 minutes.
- Spend the time in one activity and encourage your mind to fully engage – watch your breath, do some yoga, pray, read, walk around the block, or spend time in the garden. It’s only for 15 minutes. You can do that.
When you are done waiting, take a few measured breaths, gather your mind, and purposefully consider what you wish to do next. Did the pause help you to find choices that you did not see before?
If you still find it difficult to rein in your mind and make a clear decision, repeat the waiting process until you are comfortable that you are in control. No pressure to get it right the first time. Just wait again.
Practice this technique frequently. Use it to make purposeful decisions whenever you feel that life is running right by you, completely without your participation.
Oh, by the way, if after Mindfully Waiting you do choose to enjoy that piece of bit of dessert anyway, it’s ok. Just be sure to savor it with mindful intention.