Mindfulness training is a crucial component of the Structure House program, because it enables one to undo auto-pilot behaviors through the practice of tuning in to here-and-now experience. We can only honor what we are conscious of in the moment physically, mentally and emotionally. Mindfulness allows one to become more aware of the body’s needs with movement; more aware of appetite cues related to food type and portion management; and more present to one’s thoughts and underlying emotions that may be driving certain auto-pilot behaviors. Whether a behavior is rooted in habit or coping or mechanism or both, the practice of being mindful, of actively heightening awareness allows one to become more aware of the warning signs of stress reactions, and to make more conscious choices in the moment that better serves the person’s needs. Research on mindfulness at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center revealed that the benefits of a mindfulness practice include:
- Increased sense of clarity and impulse-control
- Improved decision-making
- Deeper understanding of emotions and thoughts and how they interact
- Decreased levels of depression and anxiety
- Feeling more calm and content with life
- Improved self-esteem
- Healthier coping mechanisms
The majority of those who are grappling with weight issues as a result of emotional overeating or binge eating, tend to also be dealing with depression and/or anxiety. When trying to let go of a primary coping mechanism, such as emotional overeating, it’s important to practice other healthier coping mechanisms so that there is an alternative way to care for self in the moment. Despite the negative consequences of emotional overeating, it is in fact a way of caring for self in the heat of (or loneliness, boredom, frustration, sadness of) the moment. Learning how to shift out of this survival mode takes time, the practice of attention, and whole lot of support and tools aimed at developing other coping skills.
For those who emotionally overeat, mindfulness training enhances feelings of overall well-being, and decreases the uncomfortable emotions typically associated with the urge to eat when not hungry.
For those who are habitually mindlessly eating, integrating a mindful eating practice enables one to make more conscious choices when it comes to food types and portions.
For those who have orthopedic injuries or joint pain, the practice of mindful movement enables one to learn how to honor – not override – the body’s cues during physical activity.
At Structure House we provide a variety of opportunities to practice mindfulness, such as meditation and visualization classes, mindful movement classes and mindful eating experiments that enables one to unhook from auto-pilot and honor one’s needs in the moment for optimal self-care.