I know that seems like a wild promise to make, but I stand by it 100%.

If you’ve been following me for a while, you might be thinking that it can’t be ONE thing, because I consistently write about:

  • meeting your non-physical hunger needs appropriately – like adequate rest, enjoyment, a sense of purpose, etc.
  • managing your triggers – like your mother-in-law, being lonely, your boss at work, being back in your old family home, your stroppy teenagers; moving house, dealing with your financial situation, the number on the scale…’ (on and on, because there are potentially thousands of triggers aren’t there?).
  • making sure you are eating enough, in a timely manner.
  • Eliminating restriction of any type of food.

Well, yes… and still, there really is only ONE thing you need to stop overeating and bingeing.

And it’s very simple:

It’s to become present.

Presence is being right here in this very moment, now. It’s my breath entering and leaving my body. It’s my fingers typing on the keyboard. It’s my eyes moving from screen to keyboard. It’s the dull ache behind my eyes. It’s my tummy feeling comfortably full; my eyes feeling scratchy. It’s my thoughts about what to write next.

Presence is not:

Anything in your memory – for example: anything anyone has said to you in the past; memories of births, deaths, illnesses, or abuse. Memories of your first kiss, first love, holidays… any memory. Or anything about the future, for example, worries about your children; old age; finding love, stopping bingeing, will you ever lose weight, your finances…

Those are thoughts and images about the past and the future. They do not exist in the present time. All that exists, is right now. That is not to say that your past has not had an impact on your current self – of course it has. That is not to deny the pain you may have suffered, or continue to suffer at times, or the joys you may have experienced. It’s not to say that there are not plans to be made for the future – yes there are those.

However, being present allows you a moment of time to expand the moment between a feeling, thought or experience, and your reaction. With presence, a reaction turns into an empowered response.

You see when you’re present:

  • you can tune in and know if you’re hungry or not (and therefore you’re unlikely to get too hungry)
  • you can notice how you’re feeling – tired, frustrated, lonely, sad, happy… anything
  • you can notice what your mind is telling you (about yourself, your past, the future, anyone else, or anything else)
  • you can challenge your thoughts, and choose to be right here, right now (again)
  • you can discern what your needs are, and take appropriate action
  • you can enquire with your body which foods it needs and how much
  • you’ll notice when your body has had enough food
  • you will be aware of the urge to keep eating, even though you’re no longer hungry
  • your choice to stop becomes a whole lot easier

Presence comes and goes. We have minds with thousands of thoughts running through them each day. It’s impossible to be present all the time – even for the Dalai Lama (truth be told I haven’t actually asked him, but since he’s also human, I think that’s a safe bet).

If this makes sense to you, then start a practice of presence. Practising throughout the day is very helpful – especially at times when you’re not particularly stressed or upset. Trying to be present only in moments of anguish or frustration is really difficult to do! But if you practise, you’ll get more accomplished and fluid with it – and that’s when it becomes very useful, as you’ll be better able to intervene when you feel the urge to binge or eat more than is comfortable.

Want to know how?

Here’s a simple practice. Download a mindfulness bell on your smartphone – choose one with a lovely resonance. Set it to go off every 15 minutes. When it does, become aware of your breath; the rising and falling of your belly and chest; notice what your body is doing – (e.g. for me: fingers typing, sitting, legs crossed; slight headache; tiredness behind the eyes); notice sounds – (for me: dog eating her food, pot boiling in the kitchen; workmen outside clanging scaffolding poles; cars going by). Notice your thoughts: (mine: ‘my readers will think I’ve lost the plot and unsubscribe’, ‘I’ll get push-back for this post’…) and you let the thoughts go. It’s like standing on the platform at the train station, and watching the trains go by; you don’t get on the train (or follow the thoughts), you simply allow them to go by. Notice any sensations in your body again – (for me: tightness around the back of my head, cold feet… and now noticing my hands are cold too). Watch the sensations and emotions change and move through.

No labels. No interpretations. No explanations about why any of this is present.

Just allow the present to be.

That’s it.

10-20 seconds.

Practise that at intervals throughout your day – you choose the interval. When I do this particular practice, I set my intervals for every 15-20 minutes throughout my day. Do it for a week and see what happens!

Practising over time, the moments of presence now occur for me naturally, without the bell reminder. I notice that when I do it intentionally, things change: I become a lot more aware of things like tiredness, thirst, upset – and then I more naturally respond to those things.

Give yourself the gift of presence. It’s all you really need to be free. If you want help, you know where to find me.

With love,
Vania

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