High Low friendlings.
Yes, look high and low. It’s part of what I’d like to talk about today.
This doesn’t only have to do with my ED; how it clouded my head and made me concentrate so much on food that I tuned out so many great things. It has to do with life. We all need to be aware, and it is amazing what there is outside what we think we see daily.
I was walking through London the other day, like I do, and I thought, “Gosh! Isn’t that beautiful? How come I don’t look at it like that more often?” In that moment, I thought more and more about being aware. Aware of myself and aware of my surroundings.
So how can you be more aware? And what does it mean? I don’t mean being hyper-vigilant, but rather mindful of your surroundings and how you fit within them, how you are perceiving and interacting with them.
1. Look up- I can’t tell you how many times I forget to do this! I love looking at and photographing the places where the roofs and sky meet. What’s up there? tree tops, architecturally stunning vistas, scraggly branches, blue sky, gray sky, purple sky, airplanes, UFOS (kidding), balloons, stars, take your pick. I looked up the other day and saw this for the first time:
2. Imagine a soundtrack to your life, right then- This sound strange, but maybe you’ve done it? I hope I’m not the only one that likes to listen to “Like a G6” while shopping for yogurt. It makes it seem a little bit more bad ass….Say you’re walking through a park. What would your soundtrack be at that moment? Or if you’re rushing to class or to make the bus? How would the music sound? This exercise allows you to tune into how you are feeling in any given moment, and also how you are interacting with your surroundings.
3. Look Down- but don’t trip! Looking down can ground you. Where are you standing in time? What passes under your feet while you move thoughtlessly down the sidewalk. Notice what you are stepping on. The way the path cracks, the shoe marks when the pavement wasn’t quite dry, each dirt mark or bit of paint, that gum wrapper someone should have thrown away.
4. Walking meditation- Take each step with awareness. Painfully slowly, if you must, but feel and experience each part of the step; the ball of your foot, heel, and toe hitting the ground. Try this without shoes for the best results, but it is also done wonderfully outside. Outside barefoot? Great, but wait for spring unless you’re keen on frostbite
5. Look at things from a different perspective- Get down on the ground and look up at the tree you pass daily on the way to wherever it is that you go. Climb to the top of a tall building and try to find your house or some familiar landmarks. Marvel at how wonderful everything is when you look at it a different way.
6. Close your eyes- Being aware doesn’t always come from looking, in fact, you can be more tuned in to things often if you close your eyes and let your hearing do all the work. Practice this by sitting in one place, closing your eyes, and thinking about what it is that you hear. Visualise these things, imagining them, but resisting the urge to open your eyes to check how they manifest in real life.
7. Peoplewatch. You’ll learn so much about yourself if you look at other people. Jacques Lacan said that we create our identities based on watching the “other,” outside of us. We are what we are not. Thus, by looking at and watching other people, we reflect on what we are and want to be. Watch how people move their bodies, how they gesticulate as they talk, how they smile, cry, exclaim, touch. Watch the very old. and the very young, especially if they’re particularly cute
8. Concentrate on breathing and blinking and movement- These are things we take for granted. Indeed, we often take our bodies for granted. In my recovery I’m learning to thank my body for everything it does, and credit it accordingly. I get to class on time because my body gets me there. I smell delicious breakfast, I hear people call my name, I see nature. Although my body isn’t who I am and doesn’t define me, it does enable me to be. Thank yourself, and then spend some time thinking about and experiencing all that your body can do for you.
9. View yourself from outside- Next time you’re in an awkward or confrontational situation, or any situation, really, stop. Think about how you are being viewed from the other side. If you don’t like what you see, change it.
10. Do something that makes you uncomfortable. Too often we are not aware because we fall into patterns. Patterns are easy; wake up, brush teeth, shower, dressed, breakfast, check email, class, work, etc. (yes, that’s mine). Changing something up will make you think. What do I have to do next? How will this change things? Observe how you feel before, during, and after. Make note, and know that it won’t hurt you. It won’t harm you. It will probably make you better.
(Go here: for this and other wonderful photos! I wish I could take credit for these)
Glorify who you are today, do not condemn who you were yesterday, and dream of who you can be tomorrow. -Neale