Thursday, February 16, 2012

being mindful is exhausting

Mindfulness: the Buddhist practice of pouring 100% of your focus into the activity you are engaging in.

My health has been on a roller-coaster ride lately. I have seen my doctor more times in the past 14 days than I have in all the years I have been going to him, well almost. I have to say that despite doing all that I am supposed to do, I am getting mediocre returns. It is certainly teaching me about patience. So where do I go from here?

 In the past two weeks I have been making an effort to try to be mindful about a great deal of my life from eating to work. I have learned a great deal about how this sense of hyper focus works. Its exhausting and quite difficult to mindfully devote your heart, soul and body to one activity at a time. I am a woman after all, I have that extra leg to the second chromosome (x) which demands that I multi-task! I have never thought so much about sipping tea,  eating a bowl of cereal or each step of a run in my life. My head hurts. Mindfulness is exhausting.

Some things I have observed:

I haven't been able to taste anything for years, its an occupational hazard that I have come to accept. What I have learned though is that part of this is also due to my lack of paying attention to my interaction with what I am trying to taste. How often do you even question what you put in your mouth? Is it salty, sweet, sour, bitter, savory, bold, subtle, tart, etc?  My taste buds are still not all that great but I do know that after spending the past 14 days counting every milligram of sodium in my food and limiting it to about 1gram a day that a normal restaurant experience is like chomping on a salt lick from the Dead Sea. Even a piece of commercial bread tastes like it has been bathed in the white stuff. We eat WAY TO MUCH SALT!

I have made is a point to record all my exercise on a GPS, even the hamster routine of the speedskating practice which, by the way, turns out to look like a toddler's refrigerator drawing. My purpose? I wanted to be mindful of not only what I was doing, but how far I was going when I was doing it as well as how long I endured the activity. ACTUALLY, in all honesty, I wanted to be able to PROVE that I am doing what my health care professionals seem to think I am lying about. If I hear one more time that I need to exercise more and eat less!!! (3500 calories a week average burn / 1450 calories a day average intake) This week I even managed to GAIN weight. BTW, I measure and record every morsel too. This mindful act is exhausting.

Now we get to the mental health piece, STRESS! Some things I have been teaching my self to do: laugh more, advocating for myself, saying no and asking for help, then there is the act of rating stress like a samalog system. In other words I am taking the average of the possibility of content and dividing it by the difficulty/awkwardness factor and coming up with a scale. The stress that other people try to infect the world with would score high points, which like calories I try to avoid. I have essentially reduced myself to a rating system. I guess these are my compartments. I am learning that unless my house is burning down, someone I love is gravely ill, or our family finances (even that is a stretch) suddenly careen off the north face of Everest then there is no reason for me to fill a steamer trunk full of cortisol, especially when I am the one that owns that hormone and have to pay the price to harbor it.

Slowing life way down…ALMOST - Red beans are in the oven, cooking 6 hours and I am working around the house getting things done that I have wanted to accomplish for ages but then there is part of me…still racing along!

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