a guest post by Judson Brewer
How to break stress eating habits with mindfulness.
I recently released an app designed to help people quit smoking. While testing it, one woman reported that she’d cut down on her snacking. Cutting down on snacking while quitting smoking…this wasn’t something one usually hears, and it threw me for a loop.
Discipline is defined as a branch of knowledge or the practice of training people. I find this interesting as a yoga “teacher,” for a few reasons. One is that that while I am a teacher, I am also only a student. And honestly, the only person I am ever really training is myself.
When I became a yoga teacher 13 years ago, I was keenly interested in introducing yoga into hospitals and mental health centers. I began my own practice right after my father died, and experienced such grounding within my grief that I longed to share the benefits of yoga with people who’d experienced illness or trauma. I taught in hospitals, but it was five years later, in county drug court, that I found my true niche working with teens.
It’s spring, the most hopeful time of the year. The other day, when I was taking a walk around the neighborhood, thrilled that I didn’t need a coat and boots, I started thinking about all the things I need to do to get my garden ready. Although I enjoy gardening, and it would be impossible for me to endure summer without fresh-off-the-vine tomatoes and cucumbers, the whole process seemed a little daunting to me at first.
The very first yoga class I ever attended was Iyengar-based. This was some fifteen years ago, when I was totally into Tai Bo, Spin and Step Aerobics. Kind of an unusual transition, really. Truth be told, I hated it. I could hear the clock ticking, I did not sweat, and there was no music. It felt like such a waste of time to me. It took me a good month to go back. Honestly, it was like pulling teeth, but something kept me going back once a week.
It’s mid-morning and I’ve just finished a client’s photo edits. Light pours into our living room through south-facing windows, tiny dust particles dancing and defying gravity in the rays. I place my meditation cushion in the center of the rug, my brass singing bowl sitting off to the side. I turn my phone’s ringer off and set my timer for 20 minutes. With one swift tap of the velvet-covered stick, the singing bowl chimes a long, unwavering sound that slowly fades. I close my eyes, inhale through my nose, and exhale through my mouth. “Hello,” I say.
Two weekends ago, I took part in a women’s retreat at a beautiful farm in rural Connecticut. And I did something unusual—I turned off my cell phone. Instead of glancing at my phone, I soaked in the landscape, embraced time meditating, and laughed with soulful women around me. I took a step away from tech, and I couldn’t have been happier.
What is practice to you?
Is practice something that you enjoy so much that you cultivated it into a daily “practice”? Just an official “ritual” stamp on the activity that is already strongly rooted in your heart? Or did you hear from someone else that meditation is great, or checking your finances daily is “good practice”?
Life is the living art of balance. Balance is a beautiful concept, rooted in the exquisite imagery of Yin and Yang. For most of us, the attempt at balance is more like a circus act of hither and thither, with multiple moving parts flying about our worlds in an unpredictable and mysterious way. As we all strive for our perfectly expressed version of “just the right amount,” it’s important to remember a few essential things to the practice of balance.
Last time I went to the airport, I saw a small boy with his hands and cheeks up against a large glass window. He watched the planes take off over and over again with a look of awe smudged across his face. His reflection held a sense of luminous possibility, as if he realized he could fly too. I stood there, tired and anxious to get to on my flight, witnessing something magical.