“Can you consistently eat when you eat, and sleep when you sleep?” asks Derek Lin in “The Tao of Joy Every Day”.
Therapeutic Touch is a practice which teaches how to stay fully present and centered in the moment. Practitioners learn how to set aside all distractions so that they can focus completely on the treatment itself. Like many others, I struggled with this concept in the beginning. I would quiet my mind, focus on my breathing, and then remember I had forgotten to change the laundry over, or return my mother’s call. My mind, I discovered loves to travel in multiple directions at once.
To train myself, I would pick random times during the day and “check-in” on myself. The first thing I discovered was that I was driving without actually being aware of what I was doing. Behind the wheel, I felt an inexplicable need to be in front of the traffic, weaving in and out, tailgating, and exceeding the speed limit. I decided to replace this behaviour with mindful breathing, always bringing my awareness back to what I was actually doing. Instead of passing the car in front of me, I would take deep breaths, and will myself to stay aware. It didn’t take long before I began to notice other drivers like myself, driving aggressively. Ironically, I noticed that many of those drivers did not gain a lot of ground, having to stop for the same lights, and succumb to traffic. Remaining conscientious and choosing to drive mindfully, I knew myself to be a lot less stressed than those other drivers. It was an aha moment.
I learned how to bring my full attention to my clients, effectively able to sense the subtleties and different patterns they presented. I felt I had mastered this art.
Yet, in response to Lin’s question, I have to confess that I usually eat as an aside to whatever else I am doing, and when I sleep I toss and turn with thoughts of what was undone from the day before, or what needs to be done tomorrow.
I can’t help but think that if I could just focus on eating as a solo activity, I would be more conscious of the taste of the food and the response of my body, and maybe, just maybe, not eat to excess. I would have to turn off the t.v., and the computer, close the book, and just eat. It is a effort worth exploring.
As for sleeping, well, that is another matter. How does one clear the mind enough to just sleep?