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Making More Conscious Choices

Melli O'Brien






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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?



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.

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