Waking Up To Life
By Jaime Maguire
Do you ever look back on situations, experiences or memories, and feel like you were completely checked out?
Sometimes I wake up and think; have I been asleep for the last 6 months? What have I missed?
This realization came to me a few years after I finished school. During my final year, my eating disorder was at its peak. I was fortunate enough to do some traveling in that time, but due to the fact I was going through my own internal ‘stuff’, I felt like I was pretty checked out for those experiences.
Since then, I have always tried being really present in each moment; this is something I still have to work on now many years after overcoming my eating disorder.
As humans in general I think it is easy for us to go into ‘auto pilot’, without truly connecting to our experiences. We are taught to just ‘get through it’, rather than to stop and take it all in.
There are many practices you can implement to help you stay present, and its just about figuring out what works best for you. You can use your senses; touch, taste, smell, sight and hearing. I also like to focus on affirmations, meditation, mindfulness and yoga.
Using your senses can be the fastest way to bring you back into the present moment:
- Look up from the task or activity you are doing
- Look at nature, what do you see?
- Stop and breathe
- Touch your surroundings and focus on the different textures, I like to do this outdoors with plants, dirt, frost etc
- Listen, what do you hear?
I was never really sure about affirmations, until I actually started using them. I started by writing them down in a journal, and then internally speaking them in daily life. The power affirmations have to change your perspective, create gratitude, and bring you into the present moment, is really quite incredible.
Here’s some examples of affirmations I first wrote in my journal:
- I love and approve of myself
- I choose to fill my world with joy
- I am ready to embrace the path I am on
- I am ready to heal and let go of the past
- I approach all situations from a place of love, and I let love flow through me
These affirmations may or may not resonate with you and that’s okay. I started out by listening to the affirmations of others, and then writing down the parts that I connected to the most.
I want to share with you a little story I read recently in a book called Peace Is Every Step, by Thich Nhat Hanh:
"One day, I offered a number of children a basket filled with tangerines. The basket was passed around, and each child took one tangerine and put it in his or her palm. We each looked at our tangerine, and the children were invited to meditate on its origins. They saw not only their tangerine, but also its mother, the tangerine tree. With some guidance, they began to visualize the blossoms in the sunshine and in the rain. Then they saw petals falling down and the tiny green fruit appear. The sunshine and the rain continued, and the tiny tangerine grew. Now someone has picked it, and the tangerine is here. After seeing this, each child was invited to peel the tangerine slowly, noticing the mist and the fragrance of the tangerine, and then bring it up to his or her mouth and have a mindful bite, in full awareness of the texture and taste of the fruit and the juice coming out. We ate slowly like that.
Each time you look at a tangerine you can see deeply into it. You can see everything is the universe in one tangerine. When you peel it and smell it, its wonderful. You can take your time eating a tangerine and be very happy."
This story is such a lovely reminder of how we can apply mindfulness into every day.
Mindfulness is actually scientifically researched. It can increase resilience to stress, positively effect the grey matter of the brain responsible for memory processors, learning and emotion, can assist in decreasing the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), improve quality of life in conditions such as ulcerative colitis and can improve the functioning of your immune system.
So now the ball is in your court, what can you do to be present in your life?
The following article were referenced:
Pannowitz, D 2015, ‘Clinical Applications of Mindful Eating.’, vol. 21, no. 3, pp. 168 – 171, viewed 7th September 2016, http://web.b.ebscohost.com/.
Jaime is a Clinical Nutritionist (BHSc) from Perth, Western Australia. She was led to study nutritional medicine following her own experience with bulimia, and now focuses on supporting her mental and physical health post recovery. Jaime loves morning rituals and going on adventures.