Mindful Eating

I had a pack of almonds. The next moment, empty pack and no almonds. I was the only one at the scene of the crime, so all evidence pointed to me as the eater. But if you’d asked me, I would have denied it. Presumably, those 18 grams of fat were lurking somewhere in my digestive tract.

This experience inspired me to take a Mindful-Eating workshop with my friend Augusta Hopkins.

The principals of Mindful Eating are very simple. Look at your food. Smell your food. Taste your food.  Appreciate the colors, flavors, textures, shape, and weight. Contemplate how it got to you. Who grew it? Who prepared it? Be thankful. Be amazed. Enjoy!

More practically, rest your hands between bites. Are you loading up your fork before you’ve finished a mouthful? What is the hurry?

Notice your body. Are you hunched over your plate? Are you breathing? Can you relax your neck and eat?

The result? I am much less likely to overeat if I am consciously present for the act of eating. But, I admit that I like to read The New Yorker and listen to NPR while eating. Which is why I like to combine Mindful Eating with Brian Wansink’s ingenious techniques for effective Mindless Eating.

Here’s a link to Augusta’s instructional video on Mindful eating. Never has a humble Mission Style Burrito been eaten with such loving care.



two feet one breath

Stopping is the best antidote to stress. Stop to think, to look, to listen, and to reflect. Stop and have a helpful thought like, “I don’t need to tense my neck muscles so much while texting.” Stopping is the bedrock of the Alexander Technique. Stopping is also the basis of Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction. It’s easy to stop. But it’s hard to have the discipline to do it. If we are working under time pressure, the last thing in the world we want to do is stop.

That’s why I love “Two Feet, One Breath” – a mindfulness technique developed to help busy physicians deal with their stress. Doctors with no time for prolonged meditation sessions practiced pausing an instant before entering an exam room. In that pause, they simply felt both feet on the floor and took one conscious breath. The result of incorporating this tiny stop into their day was less anxiety, less depression and less burnout.

The Alexander Technique version “Two Feet One Breath” might include a constructive thought like, “Let my neck be free. Let my head float up. Let my spine lengthen…” But the genius of “Two Feet One Breath” is simplicity. Simply stopping, even without constructive thinking, puts the breaks on stress. And that’s important!

More Alexander Technique Book Recommendations

1. For a modern take on the Alexander Technique, try: How You Stand, How You Move, How You Live: Learning the Alexander Technique to Explore Your Mind-Body Connection and Achieve Self-Mastery Paperback.  Vineyard speculates on the neuroscience behind the Alexander Technique and includes a series of case studies and short vignettes about her own experiences learning the technique.

2. You could go back to the source and read: The Use of the Self   With editing help from John Dewey, this is widely regarded as F.M. Alexander’s most readable book.

Outside the Alexander Technique cannon, you might like:

Somatics: Reawakening The Mind’s Control Of Movement, Flexibility, And Health. Hanna outlines the research linking stress and poor posture and describes how somatic awareness can restore vitality and agility at any age.

Peter Levine’s Waking the Tiger is the classic on trauma in the body.

Robert Sapolsky’s Why Zebra’s Don’t Get Ulcers is the most entertaining and best-researched book on Stress and Health.

Athough I’ve offered Amazon links so that you can read about the books, many of these books will be available through your library, and any of them through Link+

More book recommendations elsewhere on my blog:

What to read if you are new to the Alexander Technique

Anatomy books