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Making More Conscious Choices

Discover how to use urge surfing to ride out cravings and make more conscious eating choices.

Hi, and welcome to Day Two of the Mindful Eating course. Yesterday, we explored how to listen to our body's cues and therefore bring more awareness into when and what we eat, helping us to eat in a more natural way. Today, we're going to be continuing this exploration of bringing more awareness into our bodies and specifically to our urges and emotions and the way we relate those to eating. Sometimes we don't notice the difference between genuine hunger and eating for emotional reasons or triggered eating. So triggered eating is when you see something, like an advertisement or you see some food displayed in the offers, or when you're out somewhere when you walk by a window full of food, or maybe you walk by the bakery or the ice cream shop and you smell the food, and you may not actually be hungry, but you feel an urge to eat after seeing or smelling something that triggers the desire.

Emotional eating mostly happens in response to unpleasant emotions or urges that we don't want to feel. So in these times, we might reach for food in order to get some comfort, to numb ourselves, or have a moment of pleasure in the midst of our pain or our loneliness. So in either of these cases, we're often not physically hungry. But now I just want to say that a certain amount of triggered eating or emotional eating is normal. And we'll probably all do that from time to time.

It's really not a problem. Emotional eating only becomes problematic when it becomes the primary strategy to deal with unwanted emotions. Since eating does not actually make the emotions go away, your unmet needs can trigger unhelpful eating patterns again and again. Not only that, but when we try to numb, escape, or struggle with difficult feelings, they actually tend to get bigger and stay around longer. So it can really become a vicious cycle.

The thing is, is that food cannot solve your unmet needs. So we can find other ways to work with those emotions. And with triggered eating, similarly every now, and then. This is not a problem and can be really enjoyable. It only becomes problematic for us when we automatically give in to every urge, every desire on a continuous basis.

One practice that helps us to navigate our emotions and urges with more awareness is a practice created by psychologist, Alan Marlatt called urge surfing. So I'm just going to invite you to give this practice a try now. If you haven't already, settling in for the meditation. Closing the eyes. And take a deep breath in.

And letting it out. And take two more breaths like that now in your own time. And allowing your attention to settle here into the feeling of the breath. Being fully present to what's happening in the here and now. And letting everything else go for awhile.

And as you let go of any control of the breath now, just noticing any sensations in the body of hunger or fullness. Just noting where you're at in this moment. And now inviting you to think about an urge that you experienced recently. And as you think about this urge, see if you can notice all the sensations and emotions that come up for you, as you think about it. Notice where in the body you are experiencing this urge or emotion.

And once you've really tuned into what part of the body is most connected to the urge, focus your attention gently here. If you notice more than one area of the body is connected to the urge, just start with the place in your body where you most intensely feel the sensation. And just taking note of the sensations you're having in this body part with a curious and non-judgmental awareness. What do the sensations feel like? Does it feel like heaviness? Tingling? Warmth? Or buzzing? Is there a lot of movement or is it fairly static? Notice how much space the sensations take up in the body. Maybe even trying to mentally draw an outline around the place where the sensations are felt.

And can you get a sense of just allowing the sensations to be there? Making peace with them instead of struggling with them? And if there's any tendency to get into a mental commentary about what you're feeling, just seeing if you can let that go and come back to simply feeling the sensations. Bringing a kindly curiosity to them. And now bringing attention to your breath. You don't need to change your breathing at all. Just notice your breath for the next minute or so.

Just feeling the breath as it moves into the body. Feeling the breath as it moves out of the body. That's it. You're doing great. And now gently shifting attention back to the part of the body where you notice that urge.

And once again, tuning into whatever sensations are here in the body in this moment. If at any time it becomes overwhelming to notice the sensations, you can gently bring attention back to the breath for a few moments. And then when you're ready, you can touch back into feeling the sensations connected to the urge. Urges are a bit like waves. They have a beginning, a peak and then a receding.

They do pass. In fact, research shows that even the strongest urges pass within 20 to 30 minutes, if we can just let them flow through us without acting on them or arguing with them mentally. So taking a deep breath in now. And as you breathe out, if you care to, you can gently open the eyes. So this is the practice of urge surfing and you can take this practice into daily life.

By pausing in the moment you feel an urge to eat and just checking in with your thoughts, emotions, and sensations, you can make more conscious choices about whether to proceed or whether you want to find other ways to comfort, nurture, enjoy, or soothe yourself. And this can break the cycle of unhelpful eating styles. Remember, natural eating is all about awareness. It's about knowing when we are going to eat for fun or for comfort and making a choice about whether that feels right for us. We might really want to make those choices sometimes, but just not all the time.

It's about finding our own balance. It's not about guilt, tripping ourselves or being perfectionistic. It's bringing an attitude of compassion, curiosity, and awareness to our relationship with food. So as you go about your day today, if there are times when a strong emotion or urge comes up, see if you can experiment with accepting emotions instead of trying to push them away or get rid of them with food, riding out urges and making conscious choices that nourish you and lead to your overall wellbeing and happy. Well, congratulations for completing Day Two of the Mindful Eating course.

Thank you for your practice today. And I look forward to being with you again for Session Three, where we'll be exploring the value and the pleasure in slowing down and savoring.

Meditation

4.6

Making More Conscious Choices

Discover how to use urge surfing to ride out cravings and make more conscious eating choices.

Duration

Your default time is based on your progress and is changed automatically as you practice.

Hi, and welcome to Day Two of the Mindful Eating course. Yesterday, we explored how to listen to our body's cues and therefore bring more awareness into when and what we eat, helping us to eat in a more natural way. Today, we're going to be continuing this exploration of bringing more awareness into our bodies and specifically to our urges and emotions and the way we relate those to eating. Sometimes we don't notice the difference between genuine hunger and eating for emotional reasons or triggered eating. So triggered eating is when you see something, like an advertisement or you see some food displayed in the offers, or when you're out somewhere when you walk by a window full of food, or maybe you walk by the bakery or the ice cream shop and you smell the food, and you may not actually be hungry, but you feel an urge to eat after seeing or smelling something that triggers the desire.

Emotional eating mostly happens in response to unpleasant emotions or urges that we don't want to feel. So in these times, we might reach for food in order to get some comfort, to numb ourselves, or have a moment of pleasure in the midst of our pain or our loneliness. So in either of these cases, we're often not physically hungry. But now I just want to say that a certain amount of triggered eating or emotional eating is normal. And we'll probably all do that from time to time.

It's really not a problem. Emotional eating only becomes problematic when it becomes the primary strategy to deal with unwanted emotions. Since eating does not actually make the emotions go away, your unmet needs can trigger unhelpful eating patterns again and again. Not only that, but when we try to numb, escape, or struggle with difficult feelings, they actually tend to get bigger and stay around longer. So it can really become a vicious cycle.

The thing is, is that food cannot solve your unmet needs. So we can find other ways to work with those emotions. And with triggered eating, similarly every now, and then. This is not a problem and can be really enjoyable. It only becomes problematic for us when we automatically give in to every urge, every desire on a continuous basis.

One practice that helps us to navigate our emotions and urges with more awareness is a practice created by psychologist, Alan Marlatt called urge surfing. So I'm just going to invite you to give this practice a try now. If you haven't already, settling in for the meditation. Closing the eyes. And take a deep breath in.

And letting it out. And take two more breaths like that now in your own time. And allowing your attention to settle here into the feeling of the breath. Being fully present to what's happening in the here and now. And letting everything else go for awhile.

And as you let go of any control of the breath now, just noticing any sensations in the body of hunger or fullness. Just noting where you're at in this moment. And now inviting you to think about an urge that you experienced recently. And as you think about this urge, see if you can notice all the sensations and emotions that come up for you, as you think about it. Notice where in the body you are experiencing this urge or emotion.

And once you've really tuned into what part of the body is most connected to the urge, focus your attention gently here. If you notice more than one area of the body is connected to the urge, just start with the place in your body where you most intensely feel the sensation. And just taking note of the sensations you're having in this body part with a curious and non-judgmental awareness. What do the sensations feel like? Does it feel like heaviness? Tingling? Warmth? Or buzzing? Is there a lot of movement or is it fairly static? Notice how much space the sensations take up in the body. Maybe even trying to mentally draw an outline around the place where the sensations are felt.

And can you get a sense of just allowing the sensations to be there? Making peace with them instead of struggling with them? And if there's any tendency to get into a mental commentary about what you're feeling, just seeing if you can let that go and come back to simply feeling the sensations. Bringing a kindly curiosity to them. And now bringing attention to your breath. You don't need to change your breathing at all. Just notice your breath for the next minute or so.

Just feeling the breath as it moves into the body. Feeling the breath as it moves out of the body. That's it. You're doing great. And now gently shifting attention back to the part of the body where you notice that urge.

And once again, tuning into whatever sensations are here in the body in this moment. If at any time it becomes overwhelming to notice the sensations, you can gently bring attention back to the breath for a few moments. And then when you're ready, you can touch back into feeling the sensations connected to the urge. Urges are a bit like waves. They have a beginning, a peak and then a receding.

They do pass. In fact, research shows that even the strongest urges pass within 20 to 30 minutes, if we can just let them flow through us without acting on them or arguing with them mentally. So taking a deep breath in now. And as you breathe out, if you care to, you can gently open the eyes. So this is the practice of urge surfing and you can take this practice into daily life.

By pausing in the moment you feel an urge to eat and just checking in with your thoughts, emotions, and sensations, you can make more conscious choices about whether to proceed or whether you want to find other ways to comfort, nurture, enjoy, or soothe yourself. And this can break the cycle of unhelpful eating styles. Remember, natural eating is all about awareness. It's about knowing when we are going to eat for fun or for comfort and making a choice about whether that feels right for us. We might really want to make those choices sometimes, but just not all the time.

It's about finding our own balance. It's not about guilt, tripping ourselves or being perfectionistic. It's bringing an attitude of compassion, curiosity, and awareness to our relationship with food. So as you go about your day today, if there are times when a strong emotion or urge comes up, see if you can experiment with accepting emotions instead of trying to push them away or get rid of them with food, riding out urges and making conscious choices that nourish you and lead to your overall wellbeing and happy. Well, congratulations for completing Day Two of the Mindful Eating course.

Thank you for your practice today. And I look forward to being with you again for Session Three, where we'll be exploring the value and the pleasure in slowing down and savoring.

Meditation

4.6

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