I’ve been meaning to write this post for a couple of weeks now, and just haven’t gotten around to it – its been just a hair busy. My plan now is to write it peacemeal as I have a minute or two and hope that the thing is coherent when I hit the Publish button. Good luck to me.
Ages ago, you’ll remember that I read a book called Run Like a Mother: How to Get Moving–and Not Lose Your Family, Job, or Sanity, and that I was pretty obsessed (still am, by the way) with it. It got me on a health book kick, so Will picked up a book called Savor: Mindful Eating, Mindful Life by Thich Nhat Hanh for me. I should mention here that Will and I have a sort of odd view of religion – I was raised Catholic, and still very much consider myself to be so, but I also try to follow and practice some general Buddhist principles as well, because I find them to be a great compliment to my own Christian beliefs.
I will say that I don’t think that Savor is going to cause any sort of major weight loss; the concepts were great – be mindful of everything you eat. Understand WHY you’re eating when you do. When you eat, be mindful of each bite, and be grateful to all of the love and work that was put in to the meal that you’re consuming. In this way, as you’re mindful of eating, you’ll be more focused on your body’s own signals. Oftentimes, we lose focus on the little things because we have a million big things going on. I know that for me, I eat both breakfast and lunch at work, and I don’t eat either one away from my desk. In order to get in a 10-hour day, I eat while working to avoid having to take a lunch break. I definitely don’t focus on what I’m eating – I tend to shovel in whatever is at my desk in an effort to get back to whatever fire I was putting out. Ahh, the glamorous life of a software engineer, right? Even beyond that though, I don’t really have a minute to be mindful about dinner either – my dinner is generally spent fighting with Liam to get him to eat his dinner. I refuse to constantly serve him chicken nuggets and fries for dinner, so he’s learning to eat what we eat. If its not something exciting to him (chicken nuggets, fries, mac & cheese … you know, the “good” stuff), he takes F-O-R-E-V-E-R eating it – so much so that we set the timer on the microwave for an hour and have to spend that hour harassing him to eat. Thankfully, he’s easy in every other aspect of life, so we can survive this one bit of frustration.
Each day, I’m trying to be mindful of at least one meal, and it does help. I now taste the cherries when I’m eating them, and I’m getting that much more enjoyment out of having them. It is not, however, going to cause me to suddenly drop 15 pounds. I guess I knew that going in, though.
The book itself was pretty heavy – I had to space it out quite a bit to be able to really get everything out of it. There are a lot of Buddhist concepts discussed in the book, so if you’re totally against learning anything about another religion then this is not the book for you, though I’d venture to say that maybe you might want to try branching out – understanding another culture isn’t going to suddenly negate your own. There was a lot on light meditation in there, and there were some in-breath/out-breath exercises that I took the time to write on notecards to keep at work. Anything to help me avoid screaming at a co-worker is okay by me.
Mostly, it just gave me a new perspective on eating. It was a nice reminder that we are all one – that those cherries I’m eating are as much a part of the universe as I am. It made me once again grateful for the work that a farmer does to pick the fruit that I eat; it made me appreciate the sacrifice that an animal made so that I could serve meat at my table; it made me realize that everything is connected, and that enjoying the food, really savoring every moment of a meal will connect me to everything else.
The only real complaint I had about the book was that I felt like it pushed vegetarianism. It was rather obvious that Thich Nhat Hanh was not writing the book for Buddhists; had he been, there would not have been so many chapters explaining mindfulness and other Buddhist concepts. Instead, he was trying to explain some general mindfulness principles to a non-Buddhist crowd. Now, I do believe that any book – secular or not – written by a religious leader will have some sort of sales pitch involved with it. I’m not dumb. That said, I think he could have probably said his piece once and let it go. That one fault wasn’t enough to convince me to drop the book though, I really thought it was well done and was able to just sort of say, “Well, I’m not a vegetarian,” and let it be.
All in all, great book that I’d recommend to some of my more open-minded friends – if you’re of the bible-thumping ilk, this book isn’t for you. Also, you’re probably not reading anymore, because you’ve decided I’m going to hell.
Now I’ve started reading Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen (if you follow that link, it labels the book as “vintage” – its totally not – that’s the publisher … just makes the book sound like its from 1892 … it was written really recently). I’m only 4 chapters in and I’m TOTALLY hooked. I can’t wait to write about it – I’m hoping to get through it, or at least most of the way through it, while on vacation next week.