Charting life's circuitous path

Eat. Live. Be. for a Better 2011 – Mindfulness (Review)


My Update: This has been a good week.  I ate a lot of great food, but at the same time, I really pushed myself with my exercises and went beyond my norm.  It’s good to push oneself sometimes so as to avoid a rut. I was beginning to feel a bit bored with my routines, so I doubled up on some and mixed up my days to give me variety.  I’m back to my same routine today which looked like this:

8:45 am – wake up, fix Eddy’s breakfast, eat 1 Weetabix with blueberries and drink lots of water

9:50 am – begin exercise routine

  • 20 minutes cardio
  • 20 minutes upper body toning with weights
  • 20 minutes lower body toning
  • 8 minute ab/back work

11:30 am – Oatmeal, flaxseed meal, and jam for breakfast.

All-in-all I feel really good after that routine.  I still do two days of weights a week, so it was great to get in some cardio and lower body work at the same time.  Since I’m in “maintenance” mode, I’m just trying to keep myself connected and engaged with the routines so that I don’t allow them to fall to the wayside, which is so easy to do.

I also made some stellar food choices at the grocery store this weekend.  I was SOOOOOOOOO tempted by plain biscuits with chocolate creme – everywhere I looked they were selling some variant on the combo.  For some reason they sounded really delicious, even though I knew that they’d be disappointing or mediocre at best.  I resisted every packaging attempt to get me to buy and in the end. . .

. . .we came home with Double Caramel Magnums.  The coupon was going to expire!  I swear!  🙂  I figure it can’t hurt too much since we always split a bar anyway.  I mean, how on earth can you eat a whole one knowing what’s in it?  If that happened, I’d be guilt-tripping my way onto the bike.

iChallenge Week 35 Topic: Mindfulness

Review: The Mindful Path Through Shyness

by Steve Flowers

As many of you know, I’m trying to work on loving myself a bit more and hating a bit less.  This is a big hurtle for me, since it’s less obvious how to become more of a lover and less of a hater.

Do you just say one day “I am beautiful!” and years of criticism melt away?

Many people would have you believe that, but I didn’t think that it would be quite so simple.

I mean, it wasn’t like one day I just woke up and said “I am ugly!” and never looked back.

It took years and years of slow and continuous percolating to get to this point.  I started off a pure cup of water and now I’m a bitter cup of espresso. Without the mocha.

Changing my thoughts was also going to be more difficult than changing my health.  I could easily get on a bike and exercise or change my fridge contents.  Tossing out a box of cookies was a lot easier than tossing out the critical voice that bemoaned the size of my legs.

And oddly enough,  no matter how much weight I did drop, my self-image didn’t seem to change.  There would be moments of sun breaking through the clouds when I would see myself and think “wow!” but they were few and far between.

So, I began meditating.

And failed.

That brings me to this book, which I picked up at the local library.  It’s a self-help book focusing on Mindfulness and Compassion based meditation.

It’s for people who are shy, which really isn’t me.  I’m not horribly out-going and extroverted, but I am not afraid to speak my mind and strike up conversations with strangers.  I don’t avoid social situations due to “what ifs,” but I don’t always actively seek them out.

As my high school French teacher put it “She’s not shy, she’s reserved.”

Even though this book is for shyness, it’s actually a wonderful guide for those that want to practice mindfulness.

We don’t see things the way they are, we see things the way we are.

The Talmud (qtd. in the book)

Book Overview: Steve Flowers doesn’t spend a lot of time trying to do any active converting.  He approaches the topic from the practical, scientific and personal levels involved in achieving a mindful and compassionate nature.

The book is broken into chapters that tackle the different levels involved in understanding oneself.  So there’s a chapter on “starting from where you are” that takes you through the nature of shyness and the basis of mindfulness healing straight through to a chapter on “cultivating mindfulness in interpersonal relationships”.  Along the way there are exercises where he gives you the chance to practice mindfulness and to keep track of your progress through the book.

In a way, the book is more like a textbook.  It teaches you the basics and gives you the chance to try out techniques.

While the book is focused on those that are shy, it also addresses other, associated states of being such as fear, anxiety and self-criticism.

My Review: I really like this book.  It provides you with the basics needed to understand what it means to be mindful and compassionate.  I had an idea of what it meant, but this book comes right out and discusses it without a lot of dawdling in the spiritual.  It’s very practical in its application, and I love how the exercises are tied in with the chapters.

I have completed over half of the book and I can’t begin to tell you how much more productive my meditation sessions have been.  I have progressed in how long I can meditate, and I have really benefited from the quick journal reflections he assigns as part of the sessions.

One of the problems I was having before with meditating was stilling my mind.  I tried so hard to quiet the mind and to focus on my breathing, but I found it a near struggle each time.  Then I read this in his book:

. . .the mind is considered to be one of the sense organs.  The eyes see, the ears hear, and the mind thinks.  It’s just what it does.

And it was like a light flicked on in my brain.  I don’t berate myself for seeing and hearing, so why was I being so hard on myself for thinking?  If I consider it a natural operation, then I shoudn’t try to stop it.  What I should do instead is acknowledge it and treat it a bit like breathing itself: notice it when I can’t help it, but allow it to pass along and continue thinking “in the background” like usual.

It also helped me to understand that I wasn’t going to be able to just switch off the critical thoughts.  Instead, I needed to get my brain thinking more along the positive.  In order to do that, I needed to focus on what was keeping me from doing so.  I feel as if I might be afraid of something, and that’s what I’m working on right now: try to understand what I’m afraid of.

In the meantime, I’m going to keep reading this book and following the exercises.  I highly recommend it even if you aren’t shy.  It’s an easy read and it makes the process much less intimidating.



Author: iscribbler

A girl scribbling her way through health, love, food and life.

3 thoughts on “Eat. Live. Be. for a Better 2011 – Mindfulness (Review)

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