I’d like to confess something. I hate the month of April. I live in New England and April is this horrible time when it isn’t quite winter but spring hasn’t actually happened yet. Oh, I can feel spring in my bones. I can see the birds being busy, the store displays with colorful shorts, skirts, and dresses. Everywhere ads taunt me with images of beaches (sigh – BEACHES), vacations, and remind me what it feels like to have warm sun on my face. Good things are coming, which is wonderful, but for those of you who live in New England, you know that March can be a spirit breaking month which makes April the final hill in a century bike ride, your last 12 student loan payments, or completing your taxes. April isn’t something that I look forward to, it is something I get through.
Stop Asking Me to Look On The Bright Side
When I share this feeling about April, a common reaction is to tell me “It’s not that bad.” Which only makes it worse because it feels like I am not allowed to hate the month of April. It feels like I am being told what I can and can’t like. People react like by me sharing my beliefs, I am taking away yours. You, are of couse allowed to not hate April. In fact you are allowed to like April, have mixed feelings about April or simply have no opinions at all.
The thing about feelings is we have a lot of them and they are always changing – a lot like New England weather! You may love April where you live for heaps of great reasons (yeah) but when someone shares deep, unpopular feelings that don’t align with your own experience a knee-jerk reaction is to say they are wrong. I have had people – my own family even, tell me that I am wrong for hating April.
The Feelings Police
Oh my gosh, I am so tired of being told that my likes and dislikes are right or wrong. When this very common experience happens, and I have my whits about me, I take many deep breaths. I know I am triggered by the feelings police. When did the feeling police come into my life? I have been asking myself this exact question for a couple of decades now. My discovery, via a committed mindfulness practice, is I am like many people, policing my own feeling in many subtle and habitual ways and this makes it familiar. Familiar is a powerful force that makes it seem okay for me to police other peoples feeling. I do this reflexively. I can see this pattern was learned in childhood and was perfected by the time I become a dietitian.
Being with our experience is a fundamental change.
The older I get the more I cringe at younger me. I look back and realize how hard it was for me to be in the present moment. Let’s be honest, the present moment is very small, so seemingly insignificant it takes time and effort to discover how to be with, vs judging an experience. Yet 1999 when I started to meditate, and in 2005 when I help co-found The Center for Mindful Eating, I knew that being in the present moment has a power like no other. In my 24 years of practice I have found that meditation and mindfulness are an effective antidote to judgment. The challenge is how can we develop a practice of mindfulness, mindful eating? The book, Core Concepts of Mindful Eating is a good place to start if you are new because it provides detailed meditations and mindfulness practices.
Practicing being in the present moment is what helps a person slow down the doing, and embrace the being. You are invited to join Dh. Amala (meditation teacher and co-founder of The Center for Mindful Eating) and myself for an inperson mindful eating retreat called Grounded In The Present Moment: Using Mindful Eating to Support Your Practice. Remember if a retreat is not going to make it on the calendar you can get started by downloading for free The 3 Roots of Mindful Eating ebook or buy Discover Mindful Eating, which is full of great activities to use with clients and offers 25 CPE!
Before I go, I did want to share a Buddhist story about the power of acceptance. It is called Your Late.
Summer Beach Read Books
I have been reading and listening to some great book so if you are looking for some future beach reads here are some very enjoyed books. The links are to independent book stores – buy local – because Jeff has enough money.
- The Dragons, the Giant, The Women – Beautifully written journey out of Libera’s civil war
- Light from Uncommon Stars – A fun, funny story about love, music, donuts and more.
- The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires– A funny story about about the power of friendship.
- Babel: Or the Necessity of Violence: An Arcane History of the Oxford Translators’ Revolution – A heady journey which explores the dance of language, and oppression
- Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body – Roxan Gay’s story about food, eating, fatphobia and hunger.
- When Women Were Dragons – A entertaining exploration of the limits that bind women and how some women choose to adapt and others transform.