Trying Something New

I was at a weekend Yoga & Mindfulness retreat up North with a really cool group of women when I decided to attend the workshop on mindful eating. I chose to go to that sessions because I’m not sure, but I don’t think that my desire to eat my weight in sugar is such a zen and healthy thing. Maybe with this mindfulness thing I could suddenly be compelled to eat like Gweneth Paltrow.

Basically, the exercise was all about mindfully eating a raisin. As though this raisin was the most magical and fascinating thing in the universe requiring our complete attention. It felt like it took over an hour to eat this one raisin. I understood the point… pay attention to the body’s signals, be present, it will change the experience and can change your relationship to food and eating.

But I have a secret

After the lesson my friend Lindsay and I were walking through the snow back to our cabin, and when nobody was looking, I tossed the raisin far off into the snow. I never ate the raisin. I did the touching and smelling part but I totally faked anything that involved putting the raisin in my mouth because I’m not into raisins. To be clear, I don’t loathe raisins the way I do apples, I just think that they are unpleasant and that they COMPLETELY RUIN ANY COOKIE THEY ARE IN.*

I recently told this story to a friend and she laughed and called me stubborn. I don’t think of myself as particularly stubborn because I’m pretty easygoing and open-minded about a lot of things, but after thinking about it I see her point. I thought I was being so open-minded because I was trying out this whole mindfulness and meditation thing (not an easy natural fit for me), however I wasn’t actually willing to fully participate in the process.

My identity is in no way tied to my feelings about raisins, but I do pride myself on being open-minded. So why did I resist eating a raisin… to the extent that I totally faked eating it and hid the evidence of my rebellion?

The Box in the Circle

“Think outside the box” is a catchphrase I heard people say (they weren’t being ironic) many times when I worked for large corporations. In response I always thought to myself (a touch mockingly after much experience with this metaphorical box) “yes, outside the box, but inside the circle”. In other words, don’t go too far, keep it safe because we aren’t ready to really change anything.

To apply this to ourselves, I think it’s possible that we often choose safety over true change without even realizing it. Embracing mindfulness was outside the box for me and I was willing to take actions towards it (going to the retreat), but eating something questionable was outside of the circle because I wasn’t willing to do any internal adjustments and use the process to examine the validity regarding my opinions on raisins. I totally missed the point of the exercise because I wasn’t willing to objectively experience the moment.

You Can’t Coast into Growth

Going outside the box might lead to novelty, but the real change and growth only happens when we venture outside the circle. There will always be some discomfort and internal resistance when we venture outside of the circle, but that’s where all of the really great stuff happens. Knowing this makes it a little bit easier.

*I also didn’t really want to eat it after spending so much time fondling it in the name of mindfulness, but if it had been a jujube I totally would have done it.

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