How I Did It
To create the Mindful Eating Practice, I created an assemblage of the best practices from several explorations of diet, lifestyle and mindfulness. For 100 days: from March 1st to June 8th I would exist in a different way, eliminating five things: sugar, dairy, gluten, coffee and alcohol. In their place, I would look to create clarity, joy, balance, calm and health-intended purpose. I would lower my blood pressure, cholesterol, inflammation and weight. All of this happened. I now exist in the future I imagined: even at the cellular level.
In 2012 when I experienced my first exploration of how rhythms turn into practices and practices become habits, my integrative medicine doctor encouraged me to walk for 30 minutes every day. “Pair your exercise with something you love,” she said, a glimmer in her eye. Something I love, I thought. I love taking in the luminous water at White Rock Lake. I love capturing the sunrise at dawn, studying the effects of light and color under a big bold Texas sky. She encouraged me to create a new practice pairing these loves: nature, photography and exercise. From this seminal conversation #pocketsunrise was born: a now six-year study of the lake during what I call The Magic Hour. Sunrise holds all the promise of a new beginning: a tabula rasa to hold and be grateful for: a place to create. Exercise became something I looked forward to, and #pocketsunrise has been a joyful companion to this practice.
It is with this spirit that I approached designing the Mindful Eating Practice. I looked back at the elimination diets, cookbooks and books I’d come to love over the years:
- From the Elimination Diet at the Sammons Cancer Center program in the Cvetko Center I chose to eat meals high in fiber, color and nutrition. I looked for alkaline fruits with lower sugar content (apples, cranberries). I created salads with lean proteins. Protein shakes with hemp, fish oil, and other brain boosters.
- From Mark Hyman, I borrowed the Protein Shake, the supplement packs for the 21-day detox and the Regulate Female Hormone kit. I also sources several recipes from the 10-day detox and his book Eat Fat Get Thin.
- From Arbonne and the Nutritional Reset Program I carried over the chocolate and vanilla protein powder for shakes and the green-tea based Fizzys.
- From my exploration of Ayurveda and consultations with two brilliant practitioners I built in new practices of drinking a glass of hot water upon waking, adding triphala to my supplement pack and sleeping just seven hours a night.
In the weeks leading up to the start of the Mindful Eating Practice and for the next 100 days, mindfulness would be my quiet companion. I found and made time to meditate daily: from 3 minutes to 45 minutes. I sought out the quiet.
Preparation was vital to setting the intention to be different. I spent time thinking about how I could create new habits and neural pathways around healthy eating. I wrote about “me” in that future. On March 1st I wrote in my blog:
As for well-being I am creating a me that will flourish in
lower blood pressure
more fitness and exercise
more capacity for yoga
more clarity in purpose and thinking
Writing this puts it all into existence: me in this future of health and well being: leading in contemplative work and heading up an art museum that celebrates the compassion that happens when art meets healing. I am my own best experiment, and I am taking myself on to be someone who is stronger, wiser ready for the good work ahead of us. Pardon my dust and please hold me to account every day.
In my brain and in my thinking, I worked on my being already in that future. I imagined how I would look: the clothes in my closet that would fit more loosely. I imagined the way I would feel: lighter, more flexible, more alive. To these little meditations in the first days I created three mantras I would carry forward:
For well-being: to every cell
For finding beauty in unexpected places: little alleluias everywhere
When I felt the liminal response to a take a glass of bubbly from a tray of champagne flutes: be like a monk.
Be like a monk leads me to the importance of Spirit in this work. In addition, and not separate from mindfulness, is prayer. Taking on a new practice for 100 days takes will, and as I experienced it, will comes from the heart. I had a heart connection to this work, forging this future. I filled my thinking about this re-construction of myself with love, grace, patience and understanding. Monastics (I would learn during the last week of the Mindful Eating Practice) live in this love. For all they give up, love fills. Love filled up the spaces left from eliminating five things. I was in love with the capacity to sit with desire. I loved writing about the work to create a different future. I loved the community cheering me on: at home, at work and through my social networks. More love existed with each day, each failure, each challenge. As in mindfulness, if the mind wanders, you can always come back. There is beautiful grace in this work. The grace to forgive and move on. This came from sitting with Spirit, opening the heart and just listening.