Last week I made a big decision to open up and write about my own experiences with depression and binge eating. As I confided to a friend, it felt a bit like getting naked in public. I kind of knew before posting, that I was going to be vulnerable and exposed, but I felt I had to do it in order to explain to people that I’m not the whole foods police (I also thought no one would be “watching”). Before posting anything, I always ask myself if I would feel proud if my children read what I write and leave forever in cyberspace, and I gave myself approval. The feedback and comments I received (including some opt-outs from my newsletter), were incredibly enriching and motivating. They confirmed that it’s important to embrace our humanity, our imperfections, our struggles, and that we are not alone. There’s always someone out there that we can approach and who will respond with kindness and support.
As social media gets more and more sophisticated, present and devouring of our time and attention; more experts and role models can show us what they do, think, use or buy. Which can be great, because we can follow amazingly talented people that can inspire us. But it is a double edged sword. If we’re feeling sad, doubtful or going through any of the constant valleys (or deep holes) that life is made of, some posts can make us feel really lame and inadequate. If we are already judging ourselves harshly, the perfect Instagramers, bloggers and G-d knows what else is there on people’s screens, or the lack of “likes,” hearts or kissy faces, or not being able to afford the must-have Balenciaga coat, do a handstand at the beach during sunset, or not sipping blue reishi tea with pearl powder can make us feel awful. And in truth, even the top experts, or those influencers with seven million followers, who seem to have it all together, are still trying to figure it ALL out! We just see a fraction of their life, but they also have their fears, their messes, and their stories. We just don’t know them.
By talking about my own challenges, I just wanted to tell you that I’ve been and I am there too, that I’ve found peace in this particular process and that I want to share the path with you, so you can find your own way to get there. I fail, I get frustrated, hurt, tired, hungry, angry, hangry. I crave, I doubt, I constantly hesitate. My intention wasn’t to fish for sympathy or complain about my life. And I can’t talk about my story as if it’s something completely solved. I’ve learned to understand that it is not a straight line and that just because we overcome a rough patch, doesn’t mean that life is fixed. However, I know that I’ve healed a lot, and it’s felt so warm, safe, and sweet, that I’ve tried to become a healer myself. If by the end of my life I know I was able to help people get closer to their purpose, then I’ll feel I have achieved my own purpose.
How do we start healing?
It all begins with AWARENESS. Please don’t feel intimidated or think that this is a hippie, ridiculous, pompous, gimmicky term. Awareness is actually the simplest thing that we’re leaving out of our life because we are always rushing somewhere or because we judge everything constantly. Our mind has many opinions and often, those sound like incessant reprimands in our head. “If I eat this, I’m a pig…” “If I don’t make X much money, I’m a loser…” “If I don’t do well in this test, everything will be ruined….”
Being aware, which also means being mindful (hence all the mindfulness trends), asks us to experience fully, with all our senses and attention whatever we are doing now. It forces us to slow down and stop trying to run into the future to control preconceived problems. Being aware means being here right at this moment. Not catastrophizing, not preventing. Just here, right now.
Awareness is being conscious, attentive to what is happening in the present moment with the voices of judgment turned off. Once you have been aware, then you could make a choice, but not before!
Do me a favor: go to your nearest sink and turn the water on. Put your fingers into the running water and just focus on how the water feels in them. What are the exact physical sensations you are having? Make the temperature a bit warmer and go back to the sensation in your fingers. How does that feel? Feeling those sensations in your skin is being aware, being mindful. Then you can make the choice of the temperature that feels the best for you at that moment.
The more we experience life like that, the more we identify and learn about ourselves, the more we relax and the more capable we are to make efficient decisions. If we just keep listening to our self-judgment, we miss all the information.
A wonderful time to practice awareness is while we eat. Instead of judging food for its calories, slow down and focus on the sensations in your body. How is your hunger feeling? Then be aware from the moment you look at the food, until the moment you swallow it after chewing. What is the experience of flavor? What’s the texture, juiciness? How does chewing feel like? How does the taste hit you with aroma, and then at every part of your tongue? How does your hunger feel now that you’ve eaten that bite?
During meditation we can always practice awareness, while we breathe, recite a phrase or a prayer. During a religious service, while we play or listen to music, when we practice yoga or take a walk, before we go to sleep, or when we're on vacation. What is it about the beach or the woods that allows us to feel a pleasant sensation. The sounds? The air? The sun? The trees? We can scan our body’s sensations a few times a day, no judgment, just exploration of the present. Can you be more aware when you are showering? How does shampoo feel in your hands and head? When you drink coffee…how does it feel? Can you tell the flavor nuances of your drink, how does the temperature feel?
Awareness takes time, but it also tells us a lot of what we need to know. Awareness is the key piece of information we need so we can decide and take an active participation in our healing process, and mindfulness makes everything much more worth it.
BERRY CHIA JAM
This chia jam recipe is very easy and uses very few ingredients, but it’s also very beautiful to look at, has a very interesting texture, a lovely scent, and a delicious flavor. Try making it being very aware of the process of preparation and tasting. You can use it for topping yogurt, chia pudding, overnight oats, granola, parfait, ice cream, toast (I love it on almond butter toast), cake, fruit salad, smoothie bowls, oatmeal, sandwiching cookies, cheese platter, just anywhere and it will add antioxidants, vitamin C, omega-3 fatty acids, and a great amount of fiber, besides all the sensations you’ll discover while enjoying it.
1 (10 oz) package frozen berries (any kind or combination), preferably organic, thawed for a few minutes
1 teaspoon raw honey
1 tablespoon chia seeds (ground or whole)
- Place berries and honey in a power blender and whizz until liquified. Listen to the sound. Can you tell the texture of the fruit by the noise from the machine?
- Place berry puree into a jar and add chia seeds. Mis well with a fork, making sure no lumps are left. Trying to find and get rid of lumps is done with awareness….
- Allow it to set for 15 minutes and enjoy. Look at the texture. How did it change? Before you taste it, look at the jam, smell it, then try a little of it. Place all your attention into your sensations. Identify sweet, sour, and any other flavors. What does your tongue feel? Your cheeks….?