A Thanksgiving Mindfulness Exercise to Cultivate Gratitude

IMG_3038Consider trying this practice by reading it aloud as you sit down to your Thanksgiving dinner.

Take a moment to notice your feet on the ground, your back against your chair. You have arrived at this table. It may have been a journey across the country, on a mere few steps into your dining hall. Either way, thank yourself for being here, for the efforts it may have taken to work through a family conflict or logistical hiccups to be able to come together.

Feel the clean air moving through your lungs. Find gratitude for the simple fact that the air has always been there to feed you, and for your lungs in their persistent dedication to sustain you, even when the rest of your body feels exhausted.

Let your awareness scroll down your body, from head to toe, noticing any places that may be holding tension or excitement, frustration or peacefulness. Just notice how you are feeling, without any need to change it. Your body is so full of wisdom, and it will alert you to what feels right or wrong, safe or dangerous. Discomfort can even clue you in as to when you may need to take action or make a change. Thank your body for its honesty and guidance, even in this instant, as it allows you to understand this exact moment a little more intimately.

Gaze around the table or onto your plate at all of the beautifully prepared food in front of you. Let your eyes rest on one favorite item—be it the stuffing or the potatoes or the casserole—and take a moment to ponder the journey it took to get to your plate. Imagine the labor that went into preparing it today. And before that, on the trek it may have made across the state or across the globe to arrive on your plate. Think about all those who contributed to bringing it from the soil to you: the weathered hands of farmers and packers, truckers and grocers. Think about the food and air and love that fueled them in their work.

Acknowledge that whether a turkey or a green bean, it was once alive. Take a moment to appreciate its spirit and thank it for sustaining you, without needing to feel guilty for this gritty part of the cycle of life.

Let your mind wander back to its origins: the sun and rain and nutrients of the earth that all played a part in it being here today. The entire universe exists in this bite of food; even its most basic atoms were once fused in the center of a star. Let yourself be baffled by that, and find gratitude for your world, a world that is still so full of mystery.

Lastly, look around the table at those around you, acknowledging the journeys each of them took to be here with you. Take a moment to touch into the infinite ways in which each one has added to your life: what you have learned from them, moments when they have inspired you, how they have colored your world in little or large ways—ways that no one else could. Reach your hands out to theirs, and give the ones closest to you a little squeeze, reminding yourself of the sacredness of connecting with another living being.

Happy Thanksgiving!

 

Apparently, women can’t even be trusted to make decisions about their gluten intake.

This morning, I woke up to this satirical HuffPost Blog about “basic” white women and their decisions to go gluten-free. These authors, along with countless others throughout the last couple of years, seem to believe that they themselves have a much better handle on what is actually going on within women’s bodies than the women themselves do, and thus they are warranted to publicly shame and berate them for their dietary choices. They cite mockingly how doctors don’t even think gluten intolerance is a thing, implying that women really aren’t in any position to listen to their own bodies and decide what to eat accordingly (or to have the right to follow a diet for whatever reason they chose, body attuned or not).

So I have to fight for you to trust me to make my own reproductive choices, my choices around what clothes I wear, to take my word on when and how I give sexual consent, and now my choices about my gluten intake? Really?

Reading through the comments, countless women posted long-winded reasons for why they made the personal choice to go gluten-free, usually including lists of health symptoms they preferred to avoid. Their tones carried an all-too-familiar powerlessness and frustration; a sense of “owing” these strangers a justification for something that is really none of their business.

I speak up here because these instances of disempowerment, both small and large, hurt women. Policing women’s bodies and their choices, whether it is subtly through sarcasm or on a larger scale through political legislation, is traumatic. It takes away our power, our voice, and our connection to our inner wisdom. This is unfortunately one of the heaviest burdens I work through with my female clients. It starts when we are girls and it perpetuates the world we live in, even on progressive publications like HuffPost.

And so I call on you to help:

Start small; start with gluten. Next time you find yourself judging someone for how much or how little gluten they consume, let it go.

 

5 Ways to Have a More Satisfying Relationship to Food

Having trouble feeling connected to the food you eat and your relationship to nourishing yourself? Movement towards a more peaceful, honest, and effortless relationship to food can feel like a huge leap. The thought of cooking, or even knowing how to stay healthy, can feel daunting. But it doesn’t have to. Are there small changes you can make to bring yourself closer to feeling nourished by what you eat and grounded by the role preparing it takes in your daily life? Try selecting one of the following small changes towards making food a source of strength and not stress:

IMG_18601. Let your senses guide you.

And not just your taste buds. If you feel depleted but don’t know what you’re missing, try chucking the grocery list and follow your intuition. Stand in the produce section and see what colors of vegetables peak your interest. Check in with your imagination: does the sound of crunching down on an apple appeal to you more than that of snapping a carrot? Engage the memory of sounds, smells, sight, and touch in asking your body what it needs.

Another favorite shopping exercise is letting your sense of smell guide you in a specialty tea or spice shop. Savory Spice Shop in Boulder is a personal favorite. Spend at least a half hour smelling the smells and imagine all the fun ways you can integrate them into a cooking concoction. Make shopping into a playful, whole body experience. You are more likely to feel inspired rather than daunted, and your body is more likely to get the nutrients it is asking for.

2. Set aside a fixed time to plan your meals.

We’ve all been there: You are tired from a long day at work, and remember it is your turn to cook dinner. You stay in the office a while longer to scan recipes online. Then you run to the store to pick up what you need. Get home and thaw the frozen fish. then begin cooking, all with the stress of just wanting to get it done so you can have something in your stomach after a long day. No wonder the thought of cooking is stressful!

While weekly meal planning may feel time consuming, it not only ends up saving time, but a lot of expended energy. Take a few minutes on Sunday to make a schedule for the week, and then get all, or most, of your supplies before the week starts.

Maybe on the night you know you are working late, your plan is to throw a pile of veggies in the crockpot in the morning. Or maybe its to whip up some yummy tacos that you know will only take you a half hour. Whatever it is, it is going to cost you zero energy during the week in worrying, planning, and shopping because all of that is already done. Your food is already in the fridge, and you already know that you didn’t sign yourself up for an unmanageable project. Plus, once you are in the routine, you’ll notice your favorites. And then you even take out the energy of trying to learn new recipes on days when you know you don’t have the time.

3. Plan for leftovers and snacks.

Planning is not just about making dinner easier; it’s about freeing up your mental energy throughout the entire day. Planning to make enough for leftover insures that you don’t have to spend more energy, money, and time than you need to having a good lunch. Even if you don’t have enough for a whole meal, maybe there’s enough to throw atop a salad or to mix into an omelet.

Keeping a few healthy snacks around also helps insure that you don’t throw together an unhealthy meal (or go pick one up) because you’re in the middle of an emergency blood sugar crash. It’s even ok to have a little snack while you are cooking. Give yourself permission to enjoy the process by not feeling famished.

4. Bring your spirituality into the relationship.

A few words of thanks before eating reconnect you with the food in front of you. If grace isn’t your thing, it can be helpful to spend a moment thinking about the journey the food on your plate took to get there. Think about how the entirety of the universe came together in that pile of peas: the soil, the rain, the sun, the farmer, the farmer’s mother, and her mother, and hers.  Growing a handful of your own food, shopping at a farmer’s market, and eating food according to its growing season in your climate are all ways to connect with your food on a more profound level.

5. Keep it simple.

There is a universe of possibilities in the good old-fashioned fruits, veggies, and proteins you’ve always known and loved. Develop a relationship with these. And with the spices that entice you. Let each meal be a creative process of bringing together the basics in new and interesting ways. Try saying goodbye for a while to the sauces and cans and packets so that the whole foods themselves may radiate their flavor. Try not to mute them with prepared foods or condiments. It may seem difficult at first, so try starting with recipes until you get the hang of improvising from scratch.

Español

Página en español veniendo pronto! Para aprender mas sobre mis servicios, llame (720) 515-5184 o mande un email a rachaeluris@gmail.com.
Rachael Uris, MA, LPC is the owner of Atacama Counseling, LLC, offering sex therapy as well as individual and couple's counseling for issues surrounding sexuality, love, and pregnancy. All services are located in downtown Boulder, Colorado, and are provided in English and Spanish.
%d bloggers like this: