The S.T.U.C.K. Method

Five Simple Steps to Emotional Well-Being


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STUCK on EATING MINDLESSLY

For the past 10 years or so, I’ve become very interested (some may say obsessed) of how humans eat.

After become an avid reader on the subject (mindful eating), I started to offer such workshops while living in New Jersey.

What struck me most, both in my studying of the subject and in my personal investigation of myself, is how unaware most people are when they eat.

Distractions of any sort (see below) can and do lead people to not be present when they eat:

eating distractions

  • Reading the newspaper or a book while eating
  • Eating while doing another activity (checking your email, texting, watching a movie/TV, driving, etc.)
  • Loud noises (including parties, children screaming, eating at bars, etc.)
  • Having a conversation with someone else
  • Trying to beat the clock
  • The amount and variety of food that is available to you (like at a buffet, social event, etc.)
  • The size of your plate
  • Your mindset (I have to eat “x” every morning. I have to eat “y” grams/ounces of it.)
  • Eating for any reason other than you are hungry (because of the time on the clock, because you are tired, because everyone else is eating, because you are stressed).
  • Being in the presence of others who are eating in any of the ways aforementioned.

Maybe someone may wonder why distractions during eating are a bad thing?  Well, I wouldn’t necessarily claim them as “bad”, but rather noting what the distractions can lead to: like missing our hunger signals, overeating, or simply missing what could be a beautiful and holy experience.

All of which have happened to me, or sometimes happen to me on a regular basis.

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Personally, I feel like I have lots of distractions in my life.

Tons of them.

And often times, I find myself eating in a way that completely opposes what I would claim as ideal.

I come back to this realization a lot, make some sort of intentional change to become more aware, stay with that new change for a while, and then at some point consciously or unconsciously put it aside, and go back to my old habits or ways of living with unawareness.

Kind of like my meditation practice.

But, this morning, as I held my breakfast in my bowl, I decided to do 2 things from my acronym (S.T.U.C.K.):

1) “S” Stop before I put each spoonful of food in my mouth.  Each time.  Each time.  Each time.  Each time.  (Yes, EACH time.)  I just paused for a millisecond and held the food in mid-air, and

2) “C” Choose to verbalize to myself what I can notice.  I noticed warmth, texture, smells, tastes, and the sensation of my mouth touching my spoon.

I noticed the pace of my chewing.

I noticed how I held my back and shoulders.

I noticed going from hungry to satisfied.

Each time I put the food to my mouth, I noticed something else entirely.

Like it was the first time I ever experienced eating in my life.

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So, as the Sabbath approaches, which for me, is the time of the week with the most distractions (personally) at the dinner table because of my ridiculous habit of preparing way more food than necessary, I will continue to practice the “stopping” and the “choosing” with each opportunity of bringing food into my mouth.

Until I get stuck again.

Shabbat Shalom!

shabbat food


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STUCK on CRYING

I got insulted today.

To the point that I cried.

For a long time.

crying_baby

But, because of the sensitivity of this blog (it’s all about me, my family/friends, or people in my community) and my intention of striving to not do any “Lashon Ha-rah” (the Hebrew term derogatory speech),  I really won’t go into details.

The truth is, I don’t really even need to go into details.

The conversation that was had is not the point of this post.  But, rather what I did with it.

OK, I cried.  You know that already.

And, as I walked home, all puffy-eyed and emotional after that conversation, a fellow community member called me to consult with me about purchasing something for the committee that I sit on.

I lost it.

I balled to her and shared the conversation with her which led to “Lashon Ha-rah”, which I intended not to do in the first place.

Agh.

Then, I went to wash the dishes.

And, all the while, I was putting down the person who caused me to cry.  “How dare he say that?”  “He doesn’t know anything!” “Who does he think he is?”  And on and on.

And then, I thought of this blog and reminded myself of the acronym S.T.U.C.K. and how it could help me with this emotional ordeal.

So, I “S”topped.  I just stood still for a few moments and took a breath.  I already started to feel better.

Then, I “T”old myself what I was feeling… angry, insulted, insulted, insulted, insulted.

Then, I checked if there was anything “U”nderneath all of this.  Yes, there was.   My feeling that this person had little time/experience in this community to have spoken to me the way he did.

“C”hoice was the best part.  I realized that I had a choice in this matter. I could either:

a) continue to cry, share the story with others, do a lot of “Lashon Ha-rah”, make myself right and make him wrong, etc. OR

b) consider what he said, consider perhaps some truth in what was said, and perhaps even take his suggestion as something that would be a better alternative for me (and, in turn, my family).

And, I decided to choose the latter.

Recognizing that as important and necessary it is that people in our small community volunteer their time to the community, I can still be involved, but on a different level that I had been for the past year.  That perhaps, the role that I took on, wasn’t really the best fit for me (perhaps now, or even ever), but that there are certainly other roles that I could fill well.  Acknowledging that if I left my role, the community would not fall apart and that someone else will fill it.

Realizing that this conversation, was perhaps, a blessing in disguise and the best gift that landed in my lap this year.

I patted myself on the back when I said to myself, “it’s o’K'” that you got stuck on crying (and being insulted).  It happens to all of us.

And how proud I felt (with such little effort and in such little time), that I was able to transform myself from being distraught, agitated, and hysterical to being intentional, calm, and clear-minded.

S.T.U.C.K. saved my day today.

And, I am grateful.


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STUCK on JINGLE BELLS

One of my most favorite parts of the Kabbalat Shabbat (Welcoming of the Sabbath) service on Friday nights is the singing of L’cha Dodi.

Literally meaning, “Come, my Beloved”, the prayer analogizes the Sabbath to a bride, and at this pinnacle part of the service, we (during the last verse) rise, turn to the door to the synagogue, and figuratively greet the “Sabbath Queen.”

One of the reasons I love this prayer so much, is that each week, in our kibbutz synagogue, a different person leads the prayers, and each week, a different tune is sung to L’chai Dodi.  It’s rare that you will hear the prayer sung the same time two weeks in a row and I personally look forward to seeing what’s up the leader’s sleeve.

And, having attended Friday night services regularly for the past 20 years or so, and having traveled around the United States and Europe and throughout Israel, I would say that I’ve heard a good number of melodies put to this traditional prayer:

I’ve heard the prayer put to:

Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah”, “This Little Light of Mine”, the theme song from “M.A.S.H.”, and “The Sound of Music.”

I’ve heard the prayer sung in unique ways by famous Jewish singer/songwriters like: Craig Taubman, Debbie Friedman, Shlomo Carlebach and Rich Recht.

I’ve heard the prayer performed publicly with musical instruments and without (a cappella).

I’ve heard the prayer sung by children at summer camps in the Poconos and the Abayudaya Jews from Uganda.

I’ve heard it sung from the most traditional to the most modern ways.

I’ve heard it sung to Chanukah, Tu B’shvat, and Passover tunes.

Yet, I’ve never, ever heard it the way I heard it sung this past Shabbat.

To the tune of…

“Jingle Bells”.

jingle bells

Yes.

“Jingle Bells”.

Now, had I been sitting in a synagogue in America, where the country is inundated for a month at least of Christmas holiday tunes on the radio, and houses lit up with beautiful Christmas lights, and Santa Claus visits in malls and fire truck trips up and down city streets, I may not have been so shocked.

Shocked… but, maybe not so surprised.

Well, maybe surprised… but…

My point is, is that I wasn’t sitting in a synagogue in America on Friday night.

I was sitting in my little kibbutz synagogue in Israel.

And, I was, well, shocked.

“Really? Seriously?  Am I hearing what I’m hearing?” (I questioned to myself).

I probably rolled my eyes (but I’m not aware that I do that.   Only my husband and other family members of mine notice that.)

My daughter, sitting next to me, whispered to me, “Is this Jingle Bells?”

“Yes”, I answered.  “I can’t believe the leader chose to do that,” I judged.

AGH.

Boy, was I STUCK.

I was totally taken away from my focus and concentration of the prayer service.

I was so disappointed and disenchanted, that I first I just sat there stunned.

Then, I had this little conversation going on in mind… “If I sing along, it’s like I’m condoning the message” (i.e. that it’s ok to bring in Christmas tunes to the synagogue), so I just sat there, purposefully, without singing and waited for the prayer to just be finished with so that we could all move on.

I’ve got to admit: It kind of ruined my mood for the rest of the evening.

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Now, I realize that leader had no such intentions (to purposefully hurt others or ruin their moods).  Though, apparently, most of the Americans (who understood that it was the tune of “Jingle Bells” we were singing) were irked.   It’s not clear how many Israelis caught it.

I did approach the prayer leader the next day (today) and shared my feelings.

And, his response was, “It’s a holiday song, not a Christmas song!”

“But, really, how many kids attending Jewish day or Hebrew schools would be singing this song in their schools this month?”  He had no response to that.

*******************

I don’t think I’ll ever renege on my stance to this experience.

But, what I’m upset about (more than the tune itself) was my reaction to it.

I got STUCK (once again), and instead of just taking a moment to sit silently, notice my feelings, and notice my choices in the matter, I just reacted automatically by judging, waiting impatiently, and allowing this experience to ruin my prayer service.

And, although I don’t agree with it (and apparently the synagogue committee which I’m a part of would like to discuss it and set a “rule” from now on), I can see how I could have chosen a different path.

How I could have chosen just to close my eyes.

How I could have chosen just to enjoy the words.

How I could have chosen just to fancy the melody.

And, how I could have continued to rejoice in the Kabbalat Shabbat service that I do each week without letting “Jingle Bells” ruin my evening.

It’s not like I really had any control over it anyway.

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Oh well.. It’s oK.

We all get stuck, I keep telling myself.

And, getting STUCK on “Jingle Bells” should be the worst that any of us ever get stuck on.

Merry Christmas!


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S.T.U.C.K. on DISBELIEF

This past Friday  morning, I drove to Nazareth (the closest/largest city to  Hannaton, where many of my family’s doctors’ offices are situated) despite the inclement weather (forecast of more blessed rain).

And, as much as I really loathe driving in the rain, I drove anyway.

And, despite the fact that it snowed last week in Jerusalem and the tops of Mount Hermon, it hasn’t snowed (much to the dismay of my children) in the Jezreel Valley where my family and I live.  And as far I understand it, it probably never will snow in the Jezreel Valley because it just doesn’t get cold enough (Thank G-d!!!)

So, when I drove to Nazareth on Friday and it was raining when I left my house, you can imagine my state of disbelief when it started snowing.

SNOWING!!!!!

I couldn’t believe it.

I didn’t believe it.

SNOW?

“SNOW?” I questioned out loud.

“Can’t be.”

“It must be hail.”

“No, I actually think it’s really snow,” I unsuccessfully tried to convince myself.

“No, it can’t be.  Not here.  Not 15 minutes from Hannaton.”

“Then, what’s that white stuff falling from the sky?”

“It’s got to be hail.”

“Nope it’s snow.”

And this conversation went on in my mind for about 10 minutes while I continued ascending the hills of Nazareth.

Until I passed by a parked car that was slightly covered with snow.

And, I finally believed.

snow

But, to think it took me that long to believe something that was literally in front of my eyes.

I was too stuck on disbelief to believe anything!

The only thing I could “see” was no.

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And, ironically, this stuck on disbelief happened again 5 minutes later.

When I walked into my first ever acupuncture appointment.

As much as I am deeply involved and appreciate and value the world of Eastern traditions and therapies (including Yoga), I have to admit that not only have I never tried acupuncture, but I’ve been always been a little skeptical about it.

How could sticking needles in random parts of your body be healing?

But, a friend of mine suggested it (for my perpetually clogged nose) and since nothing else has really worked, I decided to go for it.

But, going in with being stuck on skepticism and disbelief.

So, after the therapist put some needles in my body (and on my face!) and she left the room for me to rest for 20 minutes, I heard similar conversations of disbelief going on in my head.

But, I caught myself.

And, even though I couldn’t see the proof, as I did with the snow, I recognized the Choice:

Of either laying there with complete disbelief, which would probably lead to nowhere, or

Lay there with belief or even faith that perhaps yes, this modality may actually heal me.

So, I chose the latter.

And, chose to just lay there believing.

And, you know what?

The rest of the day…. my nose was completely open!

I was breathing!

Out of both nostrils!

It was the most amazing and relieving feeling I’ve experienced in weeks!!!

*********************

So, now my question to you:

Do you believe me?

Or, are you stuck on disbelief?


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S.T.U.C.K. on “YOU TOOK MY SHOPPING CART!!!!”

Fridays in Israel.

A day for running errands.

A day for cleaning the house.

A day for last-minute shopping.

Before the Sabbath comes in.

I tend to avoid leaving the kibbutz on Friday mornings, but it just so happened that we had last-minute guests that were invited to our house for Friday night dinner, and I didn’t feel like I had enough food for a nice Sabbath meal.

So, I took the car to the nearby supermarket to do a quick shop.

Quick is the key word here.

Because it seems that everyone else was also doing a quick shop.

Or a hasty shop.

Or however else you would describe shopping, in a crowded supermarket, on Friday mornings in Israel.

So, I did my quick shop (and was quite proud to be done in less than 20 minutes).

But, when I stood on-line to pay, I looked down into my cart and noticed items that I never put in it.

I realized someone to my cart.

Somebody F%$%W! took my cart!!!

AGH.

Why me?

So, in a frenzy, I started to run around the supermarket (pushing the unknown cart that I had) looking for my own.

As I started to lose my breath, I realized it was silly to run around with a cart, so I parked this anonymous cart in one place and continued to look for my own.

“Are you sure this cart that you are pushing is your cart?” I asked about 30 people.

At first, I wasn’t really so nervous, but rather more annoyed.

Who in their right mind would have NOT NOTICED they took MY CART.

Why are Israelis so mindless?

Agh.

I considered just starting the shopping all over again.

Hey, it was only a 20 minute shop that I did anyway.  What’s another 20 minutes?

And then it dawned on me, that at the bottom of my fruits of vegetables (in my cart, which I had no idea where it was), lay the keys to my car and my cell phone.

Agh.

(Yes, bad, bad habit, and I swore to myself that I would never do again.)

I ran to the customer service desk.

My cart!

Someone has it!

And, my car keys!

And, my phone!

My husband is going to freakin’ kill me!

I got everyone moving.

The supermarket employees started to review the videos from the hidden cameras.

One lady started to call my cell phone (yet, no one answered).

Others helped me continue to approach every person in the supermarket to check if they had the right cart.

I ran to the parking lot to see if my car was still there.

It was.

Quick sigh of relief.

OK…. back inside to resume the search!

This run around lasted for what felt like a lifetime, but probably amounted to about 20 minutes.

I couldn’t think straight.

I didn’t pause for even a second.

I didn’t feel my heart beating a million times a second.

Therefore, I couldn’t even realize that I could choose to consider a different perspective.

That I could consider that no one ever took my cart in the first place, but rather *I* took someone else’s!

That perhaps my cart is still standing where I left it!

That perhaps it was *I* who was the mindless one, not some random Israel that I’ve been accusing for the past 20 minutes.

And, you know what?

My cart was standing where I left it.

At the dairy counter.

(Understand.  I never thought to intentionally go to the dairy counter to look for it.  I just noticed a lonesome a cart during my running around frenzy and approached it to check if indeed it was mine.)

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I took a breath of relief.

And ran back to the customer service people and told them of the find.

And, I felt like a true idiot.

And, quite selfish… how dare I waste their time when it was *I* who was so incredibly mindless?

How dare I blame someone else for taking my cart, when it was *I* who did the unintentional “steal”?

Why didn’t I just pause for a mere second before running around like a chicken with its head cut off?

Agh.

I closed my eyes and took another breath.

The word compassion came to my mind.

And then I laughed.

And said a blessing of thanks.

For all these mindless times, which remind me of the value and importance of practicing to be mindful in the first place.


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STUCK in a MESS

messy roomFor as long as I can remember, I have been a messy individual.

Yes,  I admit it.

What can I say?  

I guess living in a messy room, or a messy house for that matter, never really bothered me.

But, recently, something changed.

And, I’ve decided that living that way is not the way I want to be, nor do I want to raise my children in it.

So, I’ve made many steps (including hiring a friend to teach me the basics on how to upkeep my house) to make the changes happen.

And, so far things are going smoothly.

Beds are being made in the mornings.

Toys are being picked up before bedtime.

Dishes are being washed on time.

And, overall, when you walk into my house, you get a different feeling than what you may have had in the past.

(Note: I’m not saying my house is a museum by any means… it’s just a lot more orderly than it’s been ever in my life.)

The changes are wonderful.

My husband notices it.

My children notice it.

I certainly notice it.

And, it’s affecting me beyond my house.

It has expanded to desiring that my community be as orderly as my house now is.

So, when I walk around the kibbutz and notice trash or things not returned to their proper places… I feel frustrated and want to do something about it.

Like this past week, when our kibbutz had the pleasure of hosting a national teenage youth group for 4 days during Chanukah.

I felt happy that we can open our community to others.

I felt blessed that we have the space and facilities to host them.

Yet, I felt frustrated when I saw candy wrappers lying outside the synagogue.

Or, printed materials all over the ground.

Or, tables not returned to their proper places.

And, over these past 4 days, I caught myself several times, noticing the judging that I was doing with this group:

“They are teenagers.  There’s no way they’re going to clean up after themselves.  I must notify the head of the group.  If I am not for myself, who will be for me?”

Each time I stopped and paused and allowed myself to be still.  (S)  I took several breaths.

And, as I allowed myself to feel this judging that I was doing, I also allowed myself to tell myself (T) what that judging feels like.

And, I must admit, it didn’t feel good.

I hate judging.

I hate what it feels like.

And since I wasn’t really aware of any history with this group (U), I chose (in each of those moments) not to do anything (C).  Not to pick up the trash.  Not to call the head of the group.

But, to give them the benefit of the doubt.

Perhaps they will clean up.

Perhaps “cleanup” is a part of their 4 day experience here.

And, as difficult as it was to choose that, I did.

And, you know what?

They left today.

And, the grounds were clean.

And, the wrappers were thrown away.

And, the tables were placed back in their proper place.

Because apparently one hour of cleanup on the kibbutz was obligatory on their last day here.

*********

What a relief.

What happiness this practice is bringing me.

Even if the group had left a mess, at least I would have known that I paused and gave them the benefit of the doubt they deserved.

And, I forgave myself (K) for being stuck in their mess in the first place.