Have you heard the one about the “Boiling Frog?” No? Let me share.
“If you place a frog in a pot of boiling water, it will immediately try to scramble out. But, if you place the frog in room temperature water, and don’t scare him, he’ll stay put. If the pot stays on the stove and if you gradually turn up the heat, something very interesting happens. As the temperature rises, the frog will do nothing. In fact, he may show signs of enjoying himself. As the temperature gradually rises, the frog will become groggier and groggier. Though there is nothing restraining him, the frog will sit there and boil. Why? Because the frog’s internal apparatus for sensing threats to survival is geared to sudden changes in the environment, not to slow and gradual changes.”
I like this anecdote. Specifically, how it relates to the concept of mindfulness. Ignoring his instinctual cues and basking in the comfort of the warm water, the frog was oblivious to the dangers of the water temperature rising in his little hot tub, and he paid the ultimate price. It made me realize that at one time, I too had been the frog in the pan. I was 35 pounds overweight, suffering from severe reflux and joint pain. Thankfully, I was mindful of the temperature rising, and I jumped out before it was too late. Sadly though, like our friend the frog, many people don’t.
Mindfulness has become my mantra lately. My journey into mindfulness began with my yoga practice. Most of my life, I have struggled with staying focused. I’m sure I have some degree of ADHD. Yoga Asanas (poses & posture) require constant mindfulness to keep balanced, and I have discovered the beauty of living in the present (thank you, Dede) and staying focused.
An article in “The Secret Life of Asana”, Sandra Anderson said it best… “By awakening and reorganizing inner life, [Hatha] yoga gives us the experience of being independent of – and free from – the knots in our psyches. Repeated practice and conscious awareness stabilize this experience of freedom and make it an increasingly more influential part of our being. As a result, we gradually restructure how we live our lives, including what we eat, what we find pleasure in, and how we treat our children. This must be an active, ongoing process. Otherwise, the deeply rutted road grabs the wheels, throwing us back to old and painful ways of being and the loneliness of alienation from our inner Self.”
Yoga isn’t the only way to practice mindfulness. It can be practiced a thousand ways, many times a day. I was at a party recently and was talking to a friend who was complaining about her weight. She had put on 48 pounds in the last few years and was feeling a little despondent. The doctor wants to run some tests at the beginning of the year for fibromyalgia, lupus and IBS. A self-proclaimed cheese addict, that evening I watched her eat almost an entire 3-quart cheese dip. BY HERSELF. Laughing, talking and mindlessly eating, she consumed nearly 2400 calories and 187 grams of fat in less than an hour. Sadly, the water is getting very warm for my friend.
We don’t just wake up one day 40 pounds heavier, or with heart disease, cancer or one of the countless autoimmune diseases. Instead, we slowly and gradually make our way toward these things. We eat heavily processed, sugar-laden, man-made foods that are calorically dense and nutritionally deficient. We are rearing an entire generation of kids on these foods, and because of it, they are not projected to live as long as their parents. We abide by the notion that we have time to change our ways, yet we never do. We trade long-term health and happiness for short-term instant gratification. We’re doing this over and over, day after day.
By being mindful of what we put in our bodies, by trading short-term gratification for long-term health and happiness, we can have our cake and eat it too. But we can’t eat the whole cake. I try to live by the 80/20 rule (most of the time it’s the 99/1 rule, aside from having ADHD, I am also a little obsessive). Most of the time I eat wonderfully healthy and delicious foods for nourishment. But, sometimes I will eat really decadent and delicious foods to indulge. And when I do, I’m very “mindful” of just how divine it is!