Mindfulness, Food & Body Image are the subject of todays Zen Leader Podcast. Lily Myers, psychotherapist and instructor at the Sarasota Mindful Institute talk about this popular subject.
Intro:Welcome to The Zen Leaderwith Lara Jaye. Whether you’re a leader at home or in the boardroom, Lara provides the tools to help you get unstuck in different areas of your life. Now, here’s your host, Lara Jaye.
Lara Jaye:Welcome to The Zen Leader. I’m your host, Lara Jaye, international best-selling author, speaker, and spiritual mentor. Through my coaching programs and radio show, I help you courageously transform your disconnected, unbalanced life into a joy-filled and meaningful one. Imagine living a life full of ease, vibrant health, thriving relationships, and purposeful work without sacrificing yourself to achieve it. Whether you’re a leader at home or in the boardroom, I help you navigate the ups and downs of life, giving you clarity, confidence, and connection you so desire. Let me ask you: Have you ever struggled with food or your body image?
My guest today, a local psychotherapist, has a rich blend of professional experience and prior work as a hospice bereavement counselor, career counselor, corporate human relations trainer, Hatha Yoga teacher, and a meditation instructor. Her prominent aspect of her approach to individual therapy is integrating this mindfulness in psychotherapy. She helps her clients develop their inner resources to self-regulate their thoughts and feelings, as well as calm themselves and be less reactive to life’s circumstances.
She helps you connect with your authentic self, experience peace and well-being. Learn how to reduce stress — who doesn’t need that? — and provide a safe and respectful approach to communicating with your own partner through mindfulness-based psychotherapy and Imago therapy.
If you’ve ever battled with eating too much, too little, eating too fast, junk food, or eating to fill emotional needs, you are going to devour this next hour. Anyway, please welcome my amazing guest, Lily Myers. Lily, welcome to the studio. How are you today?
Lily Myers: I am fine, Lara. Thank you very much.
Lara: Good. I am so excited to have you here, finally. Yay!
Lily: Yes. Yes, it’s so good to meet you, finally.
Lara: Yes. Yes.
Lara: So, we are going to have a blast, coming up here over the next hour. Lily, you teach a very unique class at the Sarasota Mindfulness Institute and it’s about mindfulness food and body image. So many of us struggle with that. Tell me just a little bit about this class, to begin.
Lily: Okay. It’s a 6-week class, meets weekly, 1.5 hours each time. We begin with mindful eating. That is really paying attention, really becoming aware of what is it that we’re eating, and I guess just everything about eating the food — it’s tasting the food — and that may sound like it’s obviously, but we don’t always taste our food. Sometimes we eat so fast that we’re not aware even of what we’re putting in our bodies. It’s really engaging all of the senses – tasting the food, smelling the food, looking at the food, really seeing it. Even hearing the food.
Lara: How do I hear the food? I want to know.
Lily: [LAUGHTER]Well, you hear the food if it’s crunchy. Some food is pretty silent.
Lara: That’s true. You’re right. Crunchy. There you go.
Lily: Yeah, crunchy. Like potato chips.
Lara: Potato chips. So, it’s bringing these five senses in to something.
Lily: That’s right. Well, bringing it all into awareness, but there’s also a sixth sense in Buddhist philosophy, which is the mind. The mind is actually the sixth sense. It’s also what we think about the food, too.
Lara: What would be an example? What would I think about the food?
Lily: Well, you might think “I really like this food,” or you might think “I’ve got to have more of it,” and that might override what the stomach is telling you, which is, “I’m full right now.”
Lara: Or we can even… would “appreciation” also be another way to think about it?
Lily: Absolutely. Absolutely. “I really appreciate this food because it is so tasty,” or “I appreciate it because it’s healthy for me and it’s so wonderful that I’m being able to nourish my body in this way.”
Lara: It sounds so amazing and beautiful. Why does mindful eating… why is that even important? Why would I want to do this?
Lily: I think you’d want to do it for several reasons: One is to have a healthier lifestyle, to really be able to make choices — conscious choices — about what am I eating and what am I putting in my body? You know that adage, “We are what we eat.” You know? It’s eating good quality food or maybe separating that out from other kinds of food.
There is research that’s being done now that is coming out and saying people who eat mindfully, of course they eat slower, and when you eat slower, you get full. You have a sense of fullness faster, so you then tend to eat less. That’s another reason you might want to practice mindful eating – to eat less. And to also be able to say, “No,” if you know you’re already full.
Lara: Wonderful. I do an experiment with my gals, when I do workshops on mindfulness, the mindfulness piece. I give everyone one M&M and we bring in all the senses, like you talked about.
Lara: And most… I don’t think any of them have ever just eaten one M&M and sucked on one M&M, and how long it takes to actually have it melt in your mouth.
Lara: It feels amazing. The satisfaction factor of it is so, so amazing, because it lasts so much longer.
Lily: Yes. I think the very first mindful eating that was done, or that became well-known, was when Jon Kabat-Zinn did it in the program he developed, which is really the program that all Mindful programs are based on – so, even the Mindful Eating program. His was called Mindfulness-Base Stress Reduction.In his very first class, he passes out raisins to people. So, you eat one raisin or maybe two raisins, but you don’t eat handfuls of them.
Lara: And we’re used to eating handfuls.
Lara: It’s like dump all the M&Ms, dump the raisins, peanuts, and we shove them all in our mouth, and we go through drive-throughs fast, fast, fast. So, Jon uses raisins.
Lara: You get that sweet and you get to taste all of it.
Lily: You do. You do. I use a raisin, usually. You could use lots of things. You could use dried cranberries, craisins…
Lara: I use M&Ms. I say bring on the chocolate.
Lara: Melt in my mouth.
Lara: It’s all good. All of it is good. The one thing I find when I’m really conscious of mindful eating is that if I had, which I don’t think I’ve seen a Twinkie in a long time, but if I had one in front of me versus something else, if you really taste it, they don’t really taste that good. They’re not… I mean taste-wise compared to maybe an amazing salad with avocado. Maybe it’s my taste buds have changed. I don’t know. But I can’t really think about wanting to savor a Twinkie. I think that when we are truly mindfully eating and bringing in all the senses, our body just naturally craves — wouldn’t you say it craves — the healthier foods sometimes?
Lily: Well, I would say that. I don’t know if everybody would agree with us, Lara. [LAUGHTER]
Lara: Right. That’s true. All right, you’re right, Lily.
Lily: But I’m in agreement with you there.
Lara: Okay, good.
Lara: It just depends.
Lara: Talk to me a little bit more about the body image portion of the class. I’ve struggled over the years and I know many of our listeners deal with the body image, and the hatred that I personally had for myself. Talk to me about that piece.
Lily: Well, you mentioned the hatred and that’s one of the things that has really struck me over the years of doing this program is how many — not all, but many — women really struggle with how they feel about their bodies. The hatred is there. It’s huge. It’s a challenging part of the program because it’s really about looking at it in a mindful way and it can be hard to do for women.
I do some personal work in the program – so, some journaling. Sometimes it’s hard for women to talk about it and that, by the way, one of the reasons why I offer the program to women only is this body image portion.
Lara: So, they feel safe.
Lily: They feel safe and there’s a trust factor that’s very important so they can share as much or as little as they feel comfortable sharing in the group. Sometimes it’s talking in the larger groups, sometimes it’s really talking one-on-one with one other participant, and sometimes it’s doing individual journaling, but it’s really about helping them come to a place of self-acceptance. That can be hard for people. [00:10:00]They often think it means they’re giving up on themselves. I really stress that self-acceptance is not giving up; it’s really a starting point. It’s really saying, “This is where it is right now.”
Lara: That’s beautiful. We have to love ourselves right here, where we’re at, whatever size we are, however we look, first.
Lily: Right. Yes.
Lara: Before anything can shift, isn’t it?
Lily: Right. This is the way it is right now. This is the starting point; it’s not the ending point. It’s the starting point.
Lara: We may not like it, but…
Lara: That’s very difficult. We are going to take a break right now. We’ll be right back with Lily Myers and we are going to continue this amazing conversation about mindfulness food and body image. We’ll be right back.
Lara:Welcome back. I am Lara Jaye, with The Zen Leader, and you can find me here at www.wsrqadio.comor www.larajaye.com. Here, in the studio with me, is Lily Myers from the Sarasota Mindfulness Institute. Welcome back, Lily.
Lily: Thank you, Lara.
Lara: Lily, what website can we find you at?
Lara: Can you spell that? Is it L-I-L-Y?
Lily: Yes. It’s L-I-L-Y M-Y-E-R-S.
Lara: Fabulous. Thanks, Lily.
Lara: www.lilymyerstherapy.com. Thank you. Right before break, Lily, we were talking about body image and I had mentioned the hatred. So many women, like we talked about, have this disconnect with their body. I call it a disconnect. For years, I said I hated myself. That’s such a strong word, but I really felt that way.
I have one story. I was in high school and I used to have this beautiful dresser with the big, tall mirror, and I had it covered in cardboard because I didn’t want to look at myself.
Lara: I hated myself. I’m 5’6”, at the time, I probably weighed 120, and I thought I was an elephant. I was going to the prom that night and I remember taking down the cardboard just so I can see that I looked okay, then I put the cardboard back up. At that time, I was in high school. Then you grow with that and the deep roots of not… and then here, you finally… maybe people start working with you later on. It can be even more engrained.
Lara: The disconnect to their body and the hatred. Is it possible to even turn it around?
Lily: Mm-hmm. It is possible to turn it around. I think your story is such a poignant one, that it is so hard for some women to accept how they look. Some of it, certainly, comes from cultural elements – what we’re told beauty is and that it’s not…
Lara: I thought it was a size. I thought it was the size I was.
Lily: That’s right. That’s right.
Lara: You mean it’s not? [LAUGHTER]
Lily: No. No. It’s like everyone has beauty. Everyone does. So, yes. I think to move past that, it involves really looking at your conditioning and really looking at the belief systems that are really held in place that keep you in that “I’m not good enough.” Really. Isn’t it?
Lily: “The way I look is not good enough.”
Lara: I’m not good enough. What I do isn’t good enough. It was that prevailing… you probably don’t know this. Anyway, my book is More Than Enough, because I didn’t think I ever was. I started to meditate, and that was the one thing that I started to do was to meditate. But the more hatred I put on myself, the sicker I got.
Lara: Like organs started to not fail, I was gaining weight. Because I hated myself, I became disconnected to my body, and of course, it’s just giving me what I am thinking. Right?
Lara: It’s giving me back… so I had to switch that. That’s really what you do is you help people in the 6-week class switch it.
Lily: That’s right. And meditation can really help that process. When you were just saying that, it reminded me of something that Thich Nhat Hanh, who is a Buddhist meditation teacher, something that he talks about is you’re always watering seeds and there are all kinds of seeds inside of us, so it depends. Are you watering the seeds of suffering? Are you watering the seeds of negativity? Or are you watering the seeds of joy? Are you watering the seeds of ease and happiness? We have that choice.
Lara: We do. I didn’t think I had the choice. All these thoughts come in our head and I did not know that I get to choose.
Lily: Yes. We often think that our thoughts are outside of our control. As our thoughts come and go, that is outside of our control; however, there are some pieces of that, that we can control. We can make choices when we are aware of a thought that comes in.
Lara: What I would do, as thoughts would come in, I would decide. I knew that they, scientifically, produced a chemical reaction in my body. So, the worse I thought about myself, the worse my body felt, of course. I thought, “Well, if I could switch that, switch what I thought, then maybe my body would change,” and it — honestly — did. Obviously, it did not happen overnight. It takes a long time.
Lara: But it worked. It was the mindfulness, going in to the mind.
Lily: I think what can happen so often when there is the lack of acceptance of who we are and how our body is, is we set up the shame-based cycle where we overeat, we eat compulsively, and then we beat ourselves up for doing that. We think we can’t stop ourselves when we’re in one of those episodes. Afterwards, we beat ourselves up mercilessly.
Then, to punish ourselves even more, we go on this very restrictive diet. That may work for a short amount of time, but then we want to break out of it. You know? So, when we break free, then we go right back in to the binge eating.
Lara: It’s a vicious cycle.
Lily: And there’s that vicious cycle and it’s very shame-based.
Lara: It is. We make ourselves feel so bad. Yes. I didn’t need anyone to say anything mean to me. I did it to my own head, to myself. Right?
Lily: That’s right. That’s right. You knew what to do.
Lara: I was my own worst enemy.
Lily: Yes. Yes.
Lara: I still have to. But this is… I love this topic, obviously. That’s why I’ve been bugging you for 4 months to have you on…
Lara: …when I saw your class at the Sarasota Mindfulness Institute because I want listeners, I want people – and there are so many millions of people who struggle with this.
Lara: With the food, not being able to control it, and the body image. And they may be a size 2 and still think they’re fat.
Lily: That’s true.
Lara: It doesn’t matter. Or maybe they’ve lost weight, but can’t see the beauty. They can’t see that. People will compliment me all the time and I couldn’t accept the compliments. I couldn’t hear anything people said because I had my own beliefs.
Lara: The Mindfulness class kind of helps break down those beliefs, would you say?
Lily: Yes. Absolutely. It helps us see clearly that that even is what we are believing because we often don’t know. We don’t have that awareness.
Lara: Because we’re running through life so fast.
Lily: Yeah, and because we all have self-talk. The other piece is that we tend to believe everything our thoughts tell us, and thoughts are not…
Lara: Yes! You mean I don’t have to believe all of that?
Lily: Well, thoughts are not facts. Sometimes our thought is truthful, but it’s not always. It’s an opinion. It’s a judgment.
Lara: But who is that opinion and judgment? I need them gone. [LAUGHTER]
Lily: [CHUCKLE] The negative ones need to go. And, of course, the first step is recognizing, “Oh. Oh, my God. Look at what I’m telling myself.” You know?
Lily: Look at that thought. Wow. And, you’re right. You often are doing it to yourself. You don’t need anybody else.
Lara: So, we get to decide, as we hear these thoughts, whether it’s true or not.
Lara: And to keep it.
Lily: Yes. Yes. And there is such a thing as talking back to those thoughts, too.
Lara: Ooh, what can I say?
Lily: “I’m not going to believe you anymore. Stop.” You know? Just, “Stop.”
Lara: I can say that?
Lily: You can.
Lara: Does it work?
Lily: Sure. Absolutely. It’s empowering yourself. Yeah.
Lara: That’s amazing. Wonderful, Lily.
Lara: Tell me, Week 1. First of all, this amazing 6-week class begins, I believe, did you say May 15th?
Lily: May 15th. Yes.
Lara: To sign up, they can sign up online or call the Mindfulness Institute. Correct?
Lily: No. They would actually call me or they would email me.
Lara: Okay. Go ahead and give that information out. [00:20:00]
Lily: It’email@example.com they can call me at 603-924-2216.
Lara: And this is for women only.
Lara: A 6-week Mindfulness Food and Body Image class beginning May 15th, here in Sarasota.
Lara: You said it’s an hour and a half, once a week.
Lily: Yes. For 6 weeks.
Lara: For 6 weeks. Women only.
Lara: I love it.
Lara: Talk to me about Week 1.
Lily: Week 1 is getting to know each other. We do our first mindful eating exercise in that, which is the raisin.
Lara: The raisin!
Lily: Which we’ve talked about a little bit already.
Lara: Maybe you should take M&Ms, listeners. No, just kidding.
Lily: [LAUGHTER] Yes.
Lara: Thank you. I’m just kidding. Still raisins.
Lily: It’s giving an overview of what the class is and then really talking to women, having them tell a little bit of why they’re coming to the program, what’s going on in their life, what are they most interested in getting out of the program, and then going right in to that first mindful eating exercise.
Then, at the end of the class, I usually also do some sitting meditation as well. So, we probably start with a 5-minute or a 10-minute sitting meditation that ends the class.
Lara: From the first class, what’s the biggest surprise from that raisin?
Lily: Oh, gosh. There’s lots of different… I mean, sometimes people realize they don’t like raisins.
Lily: For a lot of people, it’s hard to eat it so slowly. For some people, it’s the taste of the raisin. It’s like, “Oh, my God. You know, I’ve never eaten just raisins. I eat them in trail mix or I eat them in cereal or I eat them in oatmeal cookies.” “Oh, this is what a raisin tasted like. I didn’t know it was so sweet.” So, there are lots of different experiences around it.
Lara: Beautiful. Thank you, Lily.
Lara: We are going to take a quick break and we’ll be right back with Lily Myers from the Sarasota Mindfulness Institute.
Lara:Welcome back. I’m Lara Jaye with The Zen Leaderand you can find me here at www.wsrqradio.com. Here, in the studio, is Lily Myers from the Sarasota Mindfulness Institute. We are talking today about this great class she has coming up in May on Mindfulness Food and Body Image.
So many of us struggle with this, Lily, and just before break we were talking about what happens in Week 1. It’s a 6-week class. What do you do in Week 2?
Lily: Well, I should say at the end of the first class, there’s a mindfulness activity for people to do during the week. There’s usually, actually, a couple of activities. One of them is to eat a piece of fruit, a whole piece of fruit, mindfully, sometime during the week. They can take an apple, an orange, whatever it is, and to eat that mindfully.
Another activity is to look at pleasant eating experiences. I give them a form that they fill out. What I suggest is, at the end of each day, they kind of review what they’ve eaten and see what was pleasant. Maybe that piece of fruit. Maybe that was a very pleasant experience. Well, what made it pleasant? What were the physical body sensations at the time they were eating it? What kind of thoughts were they having? What kind of feelings were they experiencing? Then what happens when they think about it again?
So, when we come back to the second class, that’s what we start with talking about. We’ll usually start with a quieting, centering, calming meditation and then we’ll move in to: What was the week like for you? How was it, eating a piece of fruit, mindfully? Sometimes I will break them up into smaller groups, maybe two or three people, and they will talk about their pleasant eating experiences.
Then we’ll move on in the class, and in that class, we do another mindful eating meditation. Usually it’s some kind of fruit. It may be a slice of orange or one slice of apple. In that meditation, it’s more looking at how their senses are engaged as they are eating this piece of fruit.
Lara: Amazing. Are any of them, when they come back, Week 2, and they’re talking about their experience of the piece of fruit, surprised at anything? Are they frustrated how long it takes to eat? I get frustrated because, time-wise, I’m in a hurry and I don’t want to spend the time. Especially if I have just spent an hour cooking a fabulous meal, which I do like to cook it, but then I am running out of time to eat it.
Lily: I would say that people have a wide variety of experiences around this. Some people wait until the very last minute and they do it the night before, or even the afternoon of, saying, “Oh, my gosh. I have got to do it.” [LAUGHTER]
Lara: They put it off. “I’ve got to do my homework.”
Lara: “I’m in trouble.”
Lily: Exactly. Other people take to it right away and they start changing the kinds of foods that they eat.
Lara: It just depends if they’re ready or not.
Lily: Mm-hmm. Yeah. I think there is a big readiness factor.
Lara: Do you qualify the people when they call?
Lara: Okay. So, you make sure?
Lily: Yes. I usually do either talk to them by phone… sometimes we only have an email conversation, but usually I will ask them what are they looking for or what’s going on for them right at this particular point in their life that’s making them decide that they want to take this class.
Lara: Sure. Week 2, what is the theme pretty much on Week 2?
Lily: I would say Week 2 is still around Mindful Eating. The other component of it is looking at the different kinds of hunger that we have. We have stomach hunger – we haven’t eaten for a while and our stomach starts growling and saying, “Okay. I’m really hungry here.” Sometimes we’re so hungry that it’s a cellular hunger, where our entire body is saying, “Ugh, feed me.”
Lara: Is that maybe the blood sugar drop, too?
Lily: Could be.
Lily: Yes. Yes. Then you’ve also got maybe you’re not that hungry, but we’ve probably all had the experience of we walk by a bakery or walk in to a bakery and it’s like, “Ooh.”
Lara: You smell that. “I’ve got to have it now.”
Lily: Yes. And you can almost taste it. So all of the senses get engaged. Then you’ve got mind hunger, where your mind convinces you that you’ve got to have that to eat, and it can override the stomach hunger. You’ve also got heart hunger.
Lara: I was going to say that’s where most of mine is. I need a hug is what I really need.
Lily: “I’m lonely. How can I feel connected? Oh, I’ll go have a piece of cake.” Something like that.
Lara: Yeah. Then here comes the guilt.
Lara: And then the vicious cycle comes on and on.
Lily: Mm-hmm. Yeah.
Lara: Okay. So, that was Week 2. Week 3? What’s your theme for Week 3?
Lily: Week 3 starts moving… well, in Week 2, again, I’ve got to go back to Week 2.
Lara: And they all build on to each other?
Lily: Yes, they do. They build on each other. Between Week 1 and 2, we’re looking at pleasant eating experiences. Between Week 2 and 3, we’re looking at unpleasant eating experiences. This doesn’t have to be the worst meal you’ve ever had; it could be something very simple, like you want something really cold to drink and it’s lukewarm. Or you like to eat food that’s really hot and this isn’t; it’s cool. Or it could be a piece of fruit that just doesn’t taste as sweet as you’d like it to, but there’s something that’s unpleasant about it. So, we talk about unpleasant eating experiences in the third class and how that impacts what we eat and how we eat it.
Then we move on into the body image. The last half of that class is really doing what’s called a Body Scan Meditation, but with an emphasis on body image. It’s looking at the different parts of the body and what is our response to that. What is our relationship to our body and different parts of our body?
Lara: Are we rejecting? I notice, when I finally got quiet and got still, and started meditating, I realized I was rejecting parts of myself that I didn’t like or didn’t want to accept, or didn’t want it to be that. I think a lot of us do that.
Lara: Yeah. The mindfulness piece of the eating is so important and we so struggle… people struggle, sometimes, in our stressful lives, running through fast food and trying to get the kids everywhere, and we’re all working full-time jobs. What is your best advice for that?
Lily: It’s interesting because people think it takes [00:30:00]so long to eat mindfully. In some ways, it does. But in other ways, it becomes such a pleasure to do that. I would still say as much as you can slow it down, you’ve got to slow it down. I think if you can also… If you start slowing down your eating, I think that’s going to impact your other family members as well and they’re going to slow it down.
Lara: Don’t you think, too, when we slow down, obviously the quantity… I think we’re satisfied on smaller amounts.
Lily: Exactly. Yes.
Lara: Then it doesn’t take as long to eat, so there you go.
Lily: You save time.
Lara: That’s where you save time! [LAUGHTER]
Lily: You don’t eat as much.
Lara: You don’t eat as much. But the heart hunger, I think, is a key for a lot of people.
Lara: The mind hunger. So these are the different things that I think people really struggle with and why we overeat, why we rush. Things like that. You say you talk about that in Week 3. What about Week 4?
Lily: Well, in Week 4, we do more of that as well. The homework assignment between Week 3 and 4 is really looking at our body. What do we like about our body? What do we dislike about our body? So, Week 4 is talking about what are all those things that we do like about our body, and it’s hard for some women, many women, to even talk about what they like. You know? Which is pretty amazing.
Lara: That’s how shut down and disconnected so many of us are and probably have been since we were little.
Lily: Yeah. So, sometimes we’ll do an exercise of what was it like for you at dinnertime when you were growing up. What are some of the messages you picked up from family about food and about yourself?
Lara: Ooh, I bet a lot comes up then.
Lily: A lot comes up. Did you have to eat everything on your plate? Could you leave things on your plate? What about if you disliked certain kinds of foods? What are the belief systems that came out of those very early experiences?
Lara: Very important.
Lara: And all that is in Week 5. Week 6 – talk to me about how you wrap it up.
Lily: I should also say that there are healing meditations in Week 4 and Week 5 around forgiveness around body image and around loving kindness, and body image. These, I think, are really important. Again, ways that we can begin to accept this is where we are and this is okay. We’re complete just as we are. Again, it doesn’t mean that we can’t change some aspects of who we are and what our body is like. We’re changing all the time.
In Week 6, we do wrap it up. We do another eating meditation. I call it a “Tea Ceremony.” So we have some kind of tea and, usually, either a cookie or a piece of dark chocolate as a way of wrapping it up, bringing everybody back together again, looking at what did we learn, what was helpful about this class, and where do we go from here.
Lara: Thank you, Lily. We’ll talk more. We’ll finish up Week 6 as soon as we come back from break.
Lara: We’ll be right back.
Lara:Welcome back. I’m Lara Jaye with The Zen Leaderand you can find me here at www.wsrqradio.comand my guest, Lily Myers… Lily, what was the website address again?
Lara: Lily, our last segment here, we were just talking about your Week 6, the last section of your Mindfulness class. I did not want to skip over the importance of the tea and chocolate ceremony. We were rushing there, towards the break. I was like, “Oh, no. We need to talk about that some more,” because it is, really, the ceremony and ritual. All of that is really important. That is what… everything is sacred. Everything we do.
Lara: Getting dressed in the morning. Eating. Driving to work. That’s really what you’re trying to portray, probably, in that end.
Lily: Yes. And food is particularly sacred. It gives us life.
Lara: It does.
Lily: You know? And I think we forget that in our modern lives. We see foods that’s in a grocery store that’s already pre-packaged. We don’t even know where it comes from. Some people don’t know where it comes from.
Lara: Would you say those Oreos give me life?
Lara: I think that’s part of what we’re eating is that maybe not giving me… or it’s sustaining me; it might not be helping.
Lily: Well, of course it depends how much of it you do eat. You know? I’m a firm believer, everything in moderation.
Lara: All in moderation, right? I like that.
Lily: Including moderation.
Lily: Yeah. So, one cookie is…
Lara: Is all good.
Lily: …is different than you eat the whole bag of cookies.
Lara: That’s so hard to do. Anyway, Week 6 of the class. How do you wrap things up?
Lily: Well, I think an important component is what are people going to do next. What are they going to do next Monday night, when they’re not meeting? Because the class gives people, a group of like-minded people, to come and practice with and be with. Not only are you getting the instruction from a teacher, but you’re also getting peer group support, and that’s so important.
There are lots of suggestions that I make to people about what can they do next. Some of it is continuing with mindfulness meditation, continuing that practice. Sarasota Mindfulness Institute has two weekly meditation groups – one on a Friday from noon to 1pm and one on Wednesday from 6pm to 7pm in the evening. They are drop-in meditations. Anybody can come to those.
I co-lead the Wednesday meditation and there are a couple of people in that group… people can come and go as they want, but that have taken the Mindful Eating and Body Image program.
Lara: This helps keep them on track.
Lily: Yes. It can help keep them on track. And there are books that people can read. I’m sure there are apps that people can get on their phone more around meditation than around mindful eating, specifically. But it all helps.
Lara: But there is such hope for people who are struggling.
Lara: And I think that’s one thing that you really want to get across to our listeners. There’s hope.
Lily: That’s right. That’s right.
Lara: Lily, why are you interested in this?
Lily: Well, in some ways, I’ve always been interested in healthy eating. I grew up in rural Vermont. My mother always had a big vegetable garden and also some fruit. We had an apple tree, we had strawberries and fresh berries, but lots of vegetables. I can remember, from a very early age, helping her in the garden, so I knew where food came from. I helped her plant the seeds. Several months later, I’d help her harvest the vegetables.
Lara: So, you’ve had that appreciation for this food and watching it go from seed to the table.
Lily: Yes. Mm-hmm. Yes. Yes. And how delicious fresh food really tastes. You know?
Lara: There’s a huge difference.
Lara: Huge difference.
Lily: Yes. And how nourishing it is.
Lara: So, this has just always been your interest.
Lily: It has been a strong interest of mine for many years. Yes.
Lara: So, then you got in to therapy and went that direction.
Lily: Well, I actually got into Yoga. Actually, Yoga was the door that opened everything for me.
Lara: At what age? How old were you when you…?
Lily: Early 20s.
Lara: So, you’ve been doing it quite a while.
Lily: I have been, really. Yes. Since mid-70s was when I started practicing Yoga. Then Yoga led to a meditation practice in the early ‘80s, then that led to psychotherapy. Doing my own personal psychotherapy and that led to my wanting to be a therapist, so I went back to grad school in the mid early ‘90s and became a practicing psychotherapist in the mid-‘90s.
Lara: What do you focus on in your own personal practice?
Lara: No, practice of… in the office.
Lily: The psychotherapy practice?
Lily: Yes. Mindfulness-based psychotherapy, so it’s really helping people. A lot of people come for mood disorders, depression, or anxiety. I think mindfulness is particularly helpful with people who have anxiety disorders because it really calms them.
Lara: When people come see you, even in your office, do you help them with meditation mindfulness even there?
Lara: So, not just at the Sarasota Mindfulness Institute?
Lily: Not just at the Sarasota Mindfulness Institute. No. No. I can help them. Of course, it depends on what their presenting issue is and what they want to work on. I also do couples counseling and I have a particular approach to doing that, which is called Imago relationship therapy. [00:40:00]There is also relaxing and centering in that approach as well because couples need that, too.
Lara: What would that be?
Lily: What do you mean?
Lara: [LAUGHTER]What’s relaxing and centering?
Lily: Sometimes I will have the couples in the room because they can come in and their minds can be so full of stress — and some of it is stress towards each other — so I will have them sit quietly and just go inside themselves, then think about their partner and come up with something that they appreciate about their partner, which may be something they haven’t thought about for a while.
Lara: It helps them to remember why they got together in the first place.
Lily: That’s right. That’s right. That’s right. Yeah.
Lara: This whole piece of mindfulness and meditation – they seem like buzzwords nowadays, but they are so powerful.
Lily: They are.
Lara: These words are so powerful and to… What would you say to someone who is stressed, who has some anxiety, who is living life at a fast pace? How do they fit this “something else” into their life?
Lily: Well, I say that it takes patience and that it takes a commitment. You make it a priority if it’s important enough to you. Sometimes it takes time for it to be a priority for people. It’s not a quick fix. That’s something that is very counter to our culture and yet it’s so needed in our culture. I think that’s why it’s becoming increasingly popular – because it is so needed.
I agree with you. These words, when I first started practicing mindfulness and meditation, they weren’t buzz words. There weren’t that many people that did them and now it’s just exploded everywhere. I think what we have to pay particular attention to is that it doesn’t get dumbed down and it doesn’t become something that’s just on the surface.
Lara: I agree. Because it’s so important to our becoming aware of what’s happening, to slow down, become aware, and that helps us, I think, make decisions to just bring this happiness back in. The benefits of it… we haven’t even talked about the benefits of all of this.
Lily: That’s right. I mean, you touched on the mental clarity that can come out of meditation practice. Just that is such a significant benefit. You know? I would say that one of the biggest benefits for me is not reacting so much to the circumstances of life.
Lara: Yes. The triggers.
Lily: Yes. Both inner and outer. But being able to respond to what’s happening in the moment and that’s very different to just having a big reaction around what’s happening.
Lara: We see people react and trigger all the time. Last week, I was somewhere and someone went by my friend and I and threw his cup of water on my friend. We never know what people are thinking. He didn’t even move a muscle, my friend. Just completely calm and centered, and I was blown away by, first, the person who… “Really? You’re going to throw a cup of water on someone?” but, secondly, my friend did not even… he was like, “I don’t know why he did it. It doesn’t matter. It’s not about me.” How beautiful is that, to stay centered and grounded like that? To just let it go?
Lily: Right. It wasn’t about ego.
Lara: It wasn’t.
Lara: And for all of us to have that, to have that desire to not react to the traffic and to the stress, and in the kitchen when I walk in. The stress of, “Okay, I’ve got to grab something.”
Lily: Right. Right. Right. So, it’s always — it’s often — about starting again. If it’s a breath meditation practice, we start to follow the breath, our attention wanders off. We come back to the breath, we start again. It’s the same thing with mindful eating and it’s the same thing with how we want to change, if we want to change, how we eat. When we fall off the wagon, we just get back on again.
Lara: We just get back on. We do a reset. Lily, it has been such a pleasure to have you today. Thank you.
Lily: Thank you, Lara.
Lara: Thank you, listeners, for joining me today on The Zen Leader. I invite you to listen in every Saturday at 10 a.m. here on WSRQ, online, or on our podcast for even more amazing conversations with visionaries who are here to share their wisdom to support you in living your best life. For ongoing inspiration from me, go to www.larajaye.comto subscribe to my blog and receive a complimentary meditation and PDF of my best-selling book. Until next time, choose love. Have a great day.
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