Musings from the Moonroom

Thoughts on Art, Inspiration, Creativity and Spirit


A Year of Mindfulness-One Bite at a Time

How did you do last week observing and becoming mindful of the empty space around objects? Even though I’m artist I found this practice to be rather challenging. My week was busy and I didn’t slow down very often. So this afternoon when I took my walk, I observed the space around the trees and tree branches. The sky did seem more vibrant and the blue more intense. In fact, I think this may qualify as practicing three of our mindfulness tasks-seeing blue, observing trees, and observing empty space.

This Week’s Practice: One Bite at a Time

This week’s practice, to take one bite at a time, reminds me of being told as a child to “chew each bite of your food 37 times” (or whatever that number was-30 something.) Being told that as kids we were lead to believe that chewing a bite of food for 30 some odd times would improve our digestion. All it really did was destroy the taste of the food and make me impatient.

Taking one bite at a time, however, is more practical. In this practice we are asked to take a bite of food or a sip of liquid and then to put down our utensil or cup. Why? Well, how many of you practice eating by the shovelful? You know, take a bite, chew a little, take another bite before finishing the first bite and so on and so forth. Our go-go-go time pressured society doesn’t always encourage us to enjoy our food.

But isn’t that the point of having a nice meal? To eat slowly. To savor. When we eat slowly, we feel full sooner. When we feel full sooner, the better we become about the amount of food we eat.

The other aspect of this practice is becoming aware of impatience. Eating quickly may be considered an example of impatience. If eating quickly is a frequent occurrence, in what other aspects of your life are you impatient? And if you’re impatient in many areas of your life, do you need to ask yourself why you’re in such a rush to get through life?

When the mind is absent, thinking about the past or the future, we only half-taste our food. When our awareness rests in our mouth, we are fully present as we eat.

Reflection: There can be no party in the mouth if the mind is not invited to attend. -Dr Jan Chozen Bays

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Monday Reflection: The Paradox of Our Age

We have bigger houses but smaller families;
more conveniences, but less time;
We have more degrees, but less sense;
more knowledge, but less judgement;
more experts, but more problems;
more medicines, but less healthiness;

We’ve been all the way to the moon and back,
but have trouble crossing the street to meet
our new neighbor.

We built more computers to hold more information
to produce more copies than ever,
but have less communication;
We have become long on quantity,
but short on quality.

These are times of fast foods
but slow digestion;
Tall man but short character;
Steep profits but shallow relationships.

It’s a time when there is much in the window,
but nothing in the room.

-H.H. The XIV Dalai Lama

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A Perfect 10…Not


Well here I am at Day 10 of the 37 day challenge. I want to thank everyone who sent words of encouragement to my post on Monday (Day 8). I appreciate your support. And here on Day 10 I can say that my commitment so far has been less than perfect; however, I’m not getting discouraged. I’ve made it this far and have upheld my end of the challenge on most days.

I should explain more about why I chose chocolate in particular because it does sometimes feel like deprivation. And there is a reason for this.

A year ago in March, 2008, I was diagnosed with silent reflux. That meant I was having problems with gastroesophageal reflux and was not showing the typical symptom of heartburn.  In my case my throat was sore.  It felt like I had a lump in my throat. Swallowing was sometimes uncomfortable. What baffled me was that these symptoms fluctuated.

They actually began in the fall of 2006 and “disappeared” in the winter of 2007. Come fall of 2007 the symptoms appeared again. However, they did not “disappear” by the winter of 2008. I remember my dentist, during an annual check-up, commenting on how red my throat looked and the hygenist telling me it looked like I had a canker sore in my throat.  I couldn’t see anything myself but could feel something.

I’ve always had an odd digestive system. In the past, certain smells have triggered nausea. I haven’t always eaten a healthy diet. I’m not a big eater of fruit though I love vegetables. And I’ve always loved chocolate.

And chocolate is a trigger for reflux.

Back to March, 2008. The diagnosis came after a visit to an ENT who confirmed my symptoms on visual examination. He promptly prescribed Prilosec, Tums at night, elevating the head of the bed, and not eating 3 hours before bedtime. And all these recommendations appeared to do the trick. I felt better. I slept better.

And then the ringing in my ears started.  Did you know a little known side-effect of Prilosec is tinnitus; ringing in the ears? About 1% of people taking prescription Prilosec develop tinnitus. Lucky me; I was one of the 1%.

This happened 8 months after starting the Prilosec which I promptly stopped taking. Fortunately the major symptoms of the reflux had mostly diminished by the time the ear ringing became annoying. Zantac was recommended in place of the Prilosec. The ringing in my ears has slowly diminished as well though it hasn’t cleared completely.

I tried to monitor particular foods for triggers of heartburn symptoms throughout this period. And I can say that chocolate, if taken in moderate quantities, seemed to have a negative effect. Hence my decision to focus on sugary food, especially chocolate during this 37 day challenge.

I know that completely eliminating sugar  is not a realistic goal for me. Sugar permeates too many food products.  Sugar subsitutes give me a headache so that isn’t an option at this time. Moderation and increased awareness are key.