Mindfulness and Heart Wisdom in the Process of Change
By Ginny Johnsen, RD, LD, CLT
we never slow down the constant chattering of our minds and the
commentary or judgment that goes along with it, how will we be able to
hear and know the wisdom of our hearts? How can mindfulness and heart
wisdom help with the process of change?
of us go through our lives in a trance, habitually reacting to life and
acting out the same conditioned behaviors. We go through our over
scheduled days like we are on automatic pilot, doing the same things
over and over again. When someone pushes our buttons, we react in anger
and frustration. This “trance” may work for those who are happy with
their lives and the choices they make; however, many people are unhappy
with some part of their lives and the vicious circles they find
themselves stuck in. Successful behavior change begins with mindfulness.
Altman, a psychotherapist, author and former Buddhist monk, describes
“that mindfulness possesses certain qualities that promote a healing
attitude.” Altman teaches that “mindfulness gently invites the
process of change” and that mindfulness is process. Jon Kabat-Zinn,
the founder and director of the Stress Reduction Clinic at the
University of Massachusetts Medical Center, defines mindfulness as “an
open hearted acceptance of this moment.”
The principles of mindfulness developed by The Center For Mindful
Eating state that:
is deliberately paying attention, non-judgmentally.
encompasses both internal processes and external environments.
is being aware of what is present for you mentally, emotionally and
physically in each moment.
practice, mindfulness cultivates the possibility of freeing yourself of
reactive, habitual patterns of thinking, feeling and acting.
promotes balance, choice, wisdom and acceptance of what is.
my life, mindfulness is the process of slowing down life and the chaos
of my mind in order to become aware of what I’m thinking and feeling.
Mindfulness is non-judgmental observation and very much like a scientist
observing an object under a microscope without any preconceived notions,
only to see the object exactly as it is. Once I become aware of my
thoughts and feelings, I then go to a place of acceptance. Acceptance
and looking at thoughts and feelings in a non-judgmental way is a very
important part of this process.
I judge my thoughts and feelings, (especially if I judge them as bad)
the fear, shame or blame I may feel as a result can bring the whole
process to a screeching halt. My judgment and the negative feelings that
come with it, make it difficult to look at my thoughts because it is too
painful. If something is too painful, most people will stop the whole
process. Thoughts and feelings aren’t good or bad, they just are. All
feelings are okay and part of being fully human and alive. Reaching an
awareness and acceptance of my thoughts and feelings then gives me the
permission and level of comfort necessary for me to look in the dark
corners and painful areas of my life. Mindfulness and increasing
awareness is a skill that takes practice, time and effort.
Once we are aware of our thoughts
and can look at them without judgment, we can slow down enough, quite
our minds and listen for the wisdom from our hearts. In the process of
change, it’s important to listen to the wisdom from your own heart and
not someone else’s. We are all unique and one of a kind creations and
no one else has had the same life experiences as you. It’s impossible
for anyone to see life the same way you do, they haven’t walked in
your shoes. This is why a strategy for change that worked for someone
else might not work for you. They could give you a detailed list of the
steps they took and even walk you through them and you’re still not
able to follow through. Most likely, their method didn’t work for you
because you are not them. Your perceptions, longings and motivations in
life are different from theirs. So go within, search your heart and
listen for your own wisdom.
In searching for your heart’s
wisdom, here are some questions to consider. What do you long for? What
do you really want? What do you want that’s most important to you,
right now? Once you identify what it is you want, you then need to ask
yourself what that change in your life really means to you. You need to
ask the questions several times, each time reaching a deeper level of
what you’re longing for in your life. The discovery of your deepest
longing will then help you to stay focused and motivated to accomplish
the change you desire. For some, this process of discovery can be
overwhelming. You may want to consider hiring a Coach for a faster and
In my practice as a Dietitian, I use
mindfulness and coaching in the process of change when people struggle
with food issues or want to make lifestyle changes in order to improve
their health. So many people get angry with themselves for overeating,
for their lack of willpower and for failing yet another diet that was
supposed to be the last one. The rules, regulations and harsh judgments
that are part of the “diet mentality” keep people from listening to
their body and they end up being stuck is the vicious cycle of yo-yo
dieting. Once you’re stuck in the cycle of yo-yo dieting, you can find
yourself in a heated battle with food and it can keep you from fully
living your life. Mindful eating focuses on nurturing your body rather
than starving it, encourages natural weight loss, and helps you find the
weight you were meant to be. Most importantly, it can help you end your
battle with food, find peace and live a richer and fuller life.
If you want to be successful in the
process of change in your life, come to a place of mindfulness, listen
to your heart and watch how your life becomes richer and more
Johnsen, RD, LD, CLT is a Registered Dietitian, Intrinsic Life Coach and
Holistic Coach™ in private practice helping individuals improve their
health through lifestyle changes. She offers both classes and individual
instruction in Mindful and Intuitive Eating, works with eating disorders
and provides testing and therapy to overcome food and chemical
sensitivities. You may
contact Ginny at GJRDwellness@aol.com or 740-881-4687.