Notice Anything Strange Lately – Part 2

6 Unexpected Outcomes From Our Phone-Free Experiment

In last week’s post we looked at how our phones and screens are proving to be addictive and what we might do about it. I proposed a one week experiment and many of you took the challenge!

Our experiment was to make one change for one week. There were 5 options to choose from. I chose the “fun one” because it was the easiest: Add something fun to your week that requires no technology. Leave the phone at home for this activity…Do this fun thing 3 times this week for 10 minutes.

So I decided to swing.

Four times this week I walked out to the back yard and sat down in an old-fashioned wooden swing hanging from a real tree. I pushed off with my legs and pumped just like I used to at recess in 1964, ponytail flying. Once I got going I could lean back and marvel at the kaleidoscope of fall colors in the canopy overhead.

My only rule was to enjoy myself – no phone, no figuring, no fretting for ten whole minutes. Just be a kid again.
As the week unfolded there were some interesting outcomes I hadn’t anticipated.

Unexpected positive benefits:

  1. High ROI – The carefree goodness of ten minutes of swinging came back to mind at random times all week. When the thought returned it brought the vibrant joy of freedom all over again.
  2. Sleep – While trying to get to sleep (which often takes longer than it should) the soothing sensation of swinging came back to me. It was like meditation without an app! I felt the slow easy arc of motion up to the sky and back again. It was remarkably relaxing and I fell asleep more easily than usual.
  3. Relief & Playfulness – When I waffled about taking time to swing I would re-commit myself to the experiment: The next 10 minutes are set aside to play. Period. Once I got firm on that, I felt a surprising sense of relief and playfulness.
  4. Rekindled Memories – As I made a little space to swing this week other similar memories have surfaced. I remembered how my beagle, Stranger, and I used to dig for field mice in the sagebrush fields around our house and then nap in the warm sun, hidden by the tall sweet-smelling grass.

Revealing observations:

  1. Resistance – Sometimes while swinging I felt the pull to go get my phone to make a video and send it to my granddaughter…to turn this experience into a production of sorts. At times it was difficult to stay present – to just enjoy myself and not document it. 
  2. Need for Validation – It isn’t easy to admit this but my mind grappled with crazy questions like: If I don’t share this with anyone, is it still valuable? If no one knows about this moment, is it still significant? Yes and yes and more yes.

This experiment has seriously troubled some waters for me. It’s awakened a deep longing to protect unstructured, unhurried chunks of time, and an urgency to understand how deeply our phones are changing how we operate in our world and with each other. I believe there are workable solutions – and together we can find them.

I hope you’ll share what you’re learning with us in the comments below. Our on-going shared conversation is certainly part of our awareness and solution.


Note: If you haven’t seen Adam Alter’s TED Talk yet, take 9 minutes to listen. 

The Story I Just Can’t Forget

sunsetA friend told me a story recently I can’t get off my mind.

A missionary was living in a small African village. She asked her friends and their chief if they would introduce her to the people who lived in a nearby village. Early one morning they began their trek. She was excited to meet new people and was eager to get there. They walked awhile, then found some shade and sat down, she assumed, to catch their breath. After more walking they sat down again – they chatted, sat peacefully, then walked some more. In time they sat again. This happened several times and she was getting more and more antsy each time they stopped.

Finally she got up enough nerve to ask someone why they were stopping so often and he said,
“So our spirits can catch up with our bodies.”

Wow – what mind-jarring, life-recalibrating, much-needed ancient wisdom.

How often do we Westerners feel we’re meeting ourselves comin’ and goin’? How often are our crazy-busy minds out in front of us – on to the next thing before the last one is done?

These wise villagers knew well what our western research is spending lots of money and time to discover:

We humans are in need of quiet – of down time. (click on blue for more)

Our brains are not built for a constant flow of information.

We now see more information in one day than our ancestors processed in a lifetime…

Our minds, bodies and even our eyes suffer from the overload.

As a mindful eating coach I spend my days helping people slow down and re-connect with their bodies, to re-remember how to stop and experience the joy of eating and moving again.

The simple practice of chosen-mindfulness changes us.

We begin to awaken – to feel more fully and deeply alive.

And not just at the table.

This is something all of us can do – and – no one can do it for us. Each of us must accept the responsibility for the stewardship of our own mind and soul. In our distracting world, peace will need to be intentionally cultivated – it’s not a given.

You are the only one who can make the space and time to sit in quiet contemplation.

What are you doing right now to relax, to allow your spirit to catch up with your body each day?

Here are a few ideas…you will find your own:

  • Quietly read, pray, meditate
  • Play, stroll, exercise, stretch, yoga, walk, etc.
  • Art – draw, paint, color, finger paint, etc.
  • Music – listen or make your own
  • Play with children, ride a bike, swing…
  • Enjoy your pets, a garden, a hammock…
  • Deep breathing, biofeedback, massage, muscle relaxation

There are so many ways to feel anchored peacefully in yourself again. Find your way.

Especially in the 21st century, unless you move to a village with no wifi, you will need to be fierce for your own peace, for finding your way of allowing your spirit to catch up with your body each beautiful day.

How Are You FEELING About FOOD?

wowThese days food is a loaded subject, and our feelings toward it can be intense. Whether you’re new to liberated eating or you’ve been on this path for years it’s a helpful practice to check in on your feelings now and then. Is food feeling like a good gift to you – giving you a sense of relaxed well-being? Or does it feel more like the enemy – causing you to feel anxious and out-of-control?

It is certainly easy to see how food might feel like the enemy for those of us who “battled it” for years. We tried to hold it and ourselves at bay—fighting valiantly with our paltry diet weapons only to end up right back where we started. There can be significant PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress from Dieting) leftover from this experience. But, if we allow ourselves to think of food as a dangerous force we will be handicapped in our efforts to make the changes we want to make. This line of thinking gives food false power and undermines our confidence.

Intentionally transforming your feelings toward food is an important part of this journey. Here are some thoughts that can help:

  • Make sure you aren’t subconsciously keeping an “Illegal Food List”. Thinking you “can’t have it” causes anxiety and might even set you up to overeat in response. Remember that you have freedom to eat any food and you have freedom not to. As a liberated eater, if you choose not to eat sugar, for instance, you are not declaring it illegal. You are exercising your freedom to choose. There is a big difference.
  • Remember how powerful your mindfulness and intuition are. People who are keenly connected to themselves and their body have an unstoppable partnership.
  • Think like a relaxed and discerning connoisseur. Peace and confidence grow when you take this position.

As you check-in with your feelings and recalibrate where needed, old defeating and draining feelings will give way to new, strong, healthy ones.

Your pants will get looser, your health will grow stronger, and your mind will be freer. Now that’s a really good feeling!

You Can Know Exactly Why You Eat

question markWhy do you eat? It can certainly feel like there are a million reasons, but when we boil it all down there are basically only three. It helps to know what these three reasons are so we can pinpoint which of them is driving us at any given moment. When we’re aware of what’s causing us to want to eat, we can make a wise decision about whether it’s time to feed ourselves or time to get busy with other things.

When we know what’s driving us, we can drive it instead of it driving us!

3 cues that drive us to eat:

  • Internal cuePhysical hunger. Your body needs fuel and it’s letting you know by making you feel hungry, growly and empty. Food tastes amazingly satisfying when your body needs it.
  • External cueOur culture is FULL of cues urging us to eat! Hot, cheesy pizza commercial. Sweet aromas wafting from the cookie store in the mall. Flashing HOT sign at you-know-where. Or how about the popcorn you can smell before you even step foot in the theater.
  • Emotional cue Our heads and hearts are full of these cues. We feel stressed, or bored, or angry, or lonely or even happy – and suddenly a plate of warm brownies feels like just the thing.

As the urge to eat hits you throughout the day today, run through this short list and decide which one is driving you. It’s a terrific exercise in mindfulness and an easy way to reconnect with your amazing body in the midst of your full life.

Then notice how satisfying it feels to wait for your true hunger. Your food tastes better. Your body feels lighter and stronger. Your energy level is high and consistent. Your mind is more peaceful and centered.

Now that’s worth waiting for!

One Foot Away From What You Want

One Foot Away – Here’s an invitation to add a meaningful (and fun) challenge to your day…                                                                                                                         One Foot Away From What You Want

Please stand up*. Straighten your posture, breathe deeply and relax. Raise one foot off the floor slowly – and hold it off the floor for as long as you can. Can you feel the weight bearing leg working to keep you upright?

How long could you balance on one leg? How high can you lift your leg? If you did this most days, several times a day – soon you would have much better balance than you do right now. This, by the way, has incredible benefits. Elderly people would rarely break their hips if they had better balance. But, I digress…

The point of this exercise is to illustrate something very important for us liberated eaters. Consistent practice improves our skill level exponentially!

Skill improves with practice. Every time.

Practice slowing down. Practice relaxing before your first bite. Practice chewing slowly. Practice connecting. Doing these things most meals (perfection is not required) will change your food-life. This, in turn, will change your health and weight, not to mention the joy and peace you experience around food.

This is EXCITING – if you practice being aware you become a person with keen awareness. If you practice relaxing and enjoying each bite you become a person who gets a great deal of joy and refreshment from eating. If you practice listening to your body the two of you will become dear friends – which has lifelong benefits.

So, if you’re feeling discouraged about your mindfulness right now – please be encouraged. You are just a bit of practice away from being very mindful!

OH YEA – you can put your foot down now.


* Please don’t do anything you or your doctor would think is dangerous for you, of course!