Weight loss is not something that springs to mind when I think about being mindful. However, it does make sense that as you engage in mindfulness practices, you will develop a greater awareness of the felt sense of the body, and the inclinations of the mind, and thereby be able to notice when over eating is happening, or more importantly, about to happen. The growing awareness cultivated in a regular mindfulness practice, can then, lead to physical weight loss.
This however, is not the kind of weight loss I am thinking about as I write. I am contemplating how much baggage we tend to carry around in worrying, feeling anxious, planning for the future, regretting, feeling remorseful, remembering the past, judging evaluating, analysing this moment, and/or ourselves. Then there is the 24/7 connectivity issue, the compulsion to check emails, text, pick up the phone. It’s a lot to carry. Mindfulness practice can support weight-loss for the body, but as importantly, if not more importantly, it can support weight-loss for the mind and heart.
David Whyte in his poem ‘Everything Is Waiting For You’, invites us to:
Put down the weight of your aloneness
And ease into the conversation.
In session one of the MBSR course, we are invited to ease into a conversation, at first with a raisin, and then with our own bodies and minds. We learn that the more available we are to any moment, the more available the moment is to us. A raisin, rather than just a dried up, darkened grape, is full of richness and depth when we choose to enter into it with all of our senses. This is the conversation, I believe David Whyte is pointing to, the capacity to be fully present in any moment that we choose to pay attention. We are embedded within a full and rich world, how sad that we often miss it, because we are carrying the baggage of the past, of the future, or a rather harsh relationship toward ourselves around. By intentionally, consciously attending fully to the task at hand, whether that be washing up, writing an email or reading a bedtime story to a child, we put down the weight of our aloneness and enter into the conversation. With life!
Equally, sitting in meditation, in awareness of breathing, we experience the natural flow of the breath, coming in and going out. This going out, releasing, of the breath is an opportunity to practice the attitudinal foundation of letting-go. In fact we don’t have to let-go of the breath, because it leaves all by itself, we just need to allow it. We can however intentionally let-go of a thought mid stream. Just let it go, put it down, unburden. Trusting that this breath is enough, putting down, patiently and persistantly, we practice weight loss for the mind and heart.
I heard a lovely story about the Thai Buddhist meditation teacher Ajahn Chah recently. He was walking with his students one day, and the group passed an area full of giant rocks. Ajahn Chah asked his students, “ Are they heavy”, to which, understandably, the students replied, “Yes”. Ajahn Chah laughed and said, “Only if you pick them up.” And it’s true isn’t it, it’s only if we pick up the thoughts of the past or future and hold onto them, that they start to weigh us down. So we practice, putting them down, putting them down, putting them down.