Day 5 – Presence (Whole30 2013)
As I’m sure many of you have been through the dietary loops of one guru/company/magazine or the next, there seems to be one thing many (not all, duh) have in common. They spout out phrases like “chew slowly”, “put your utensil down between bites”, “don’t eat in front of the television”, etc. Whether or not these folks know it, they are indirectly discussing the practice of presence. I am certainly no expert in the concept of presence, but the best way I can a definition to the practice is this:
Presence is being acutely aware of all of one’s self (mind & body) and surroundings as one entity.
When I’m present, I feel as many things as I can feel at once. I smell all the smells I can while seeing all the things I can see and, you know, whatever other senses we have. (Sound? Taste? I guess I’m just tasting the inside of my mouth most of the time.) It all sounds super woowoo, I know, and stop rolling your eyes.
Let us try an example, shall we? If you are sitting with your electronic device of choice reading this blog, how much outside of that device are you simultaneously aware of?
For me, when I am present: The chair I’m sitting on, the feel of the keys as I type, my dinner bowl on the table, the blister I just made on the top of my mouth, the dishwasher running, the f*cking dog next door, howling. And beautiful things, too, like the color of my new wallet.
When I am not present? The words on the screen and my thoughts in my head. That’s it.
I guess I’m not missing out on much at this very moment, but what if I were never present? I’d miss a lot. I’m not saying I’m always present. Far from it. In fact, I really suck at being aware that I need to be aware when I need it. For example, when I’m in a hurry, when I’m stressed from exams, when I’m on Facebook, when I find cool new chrome extensions instead of writing – to name a few.
Outside of the fact that it is an indescribably calming practice, it plays a particular role in diet and lifestyle choices, as I mentioned earlier. Whether or not you are partaking in a Whole30, on a diet, or simply just eating your lunch (hell, even if it’s fast food), take a second and try to appreciate your food, even if it’s only for a few bites, if not the whole meal.
Take note of your food’s
It becomes an entirely different experience and far more enjoyable. (Unless it’s a shitty meal, then you’re just dragging out the torture and I can’t help you with it.) Practicing presence while eating isn’t something exclusive to those who meditate, monks, or the enlightened elite. It is something that everyone can do very easily. Next time you sit down, just take note of all those things. Write down your observations if it helps bring awareness, even.
This is a tool I like to employ at social gatherings, in particular. Those times when there are several tables with food piled around? Oh, that’s right, everyone just got through the fe(a)stive holiday season. So you know what I’m talking about? It’s super easy to keep reaching out, grabbing just one more cookie and, without thinking, it’s inhaled without tasting it. Such a waste of a good cookie! In all honesty, being present doesn’t totally help me here. I’m still prey to being distracted by conversation and nomnomming mindlessly. I will, however, say that it stops me at least 1-2 times out of 3 so that I don’t leave feeling (as) sick.
I have been hardcore practicing presence the past 1.5-2 weeks. For my Whole30, it has helped me appreciate all the complex tastes in the food I have (or Seth) prepared. I eat slower and feel fuller. Outside of eating, it leaves me happy, relaxed, and more chill all the time. I can’t really describe the calm I’ve been experiencing, but it’s nice. I want it to last. I hope it doesn’t crumble when classes start back up.
Speaking of classes… I GOT STRAIGHT A’S SUCCCKKKKAAASSSSSS!!!!!!