I set an intention this month to relish pleasure in my life, and thus renounce mindless pleasure seeking. The primary place I struggle with this is eating food. I love good food, but so seldom allow myself to really enjoy it. I often sit down to eat with a television program or a book, distracting my mind with other pleasures rather than focusing on the pleasure at hand. It’s a long-standing habit, and is related to my use of food to numb out my feelings. Adding other distractions to the food allows me to feel even more numb and distracted, which helps me feel safe and less overwhelmed.
I made a small batch of no-bake cookies last night, one of my favorite foods from childhood. For every cookie, I’ve sat down specifically to enjoy the cookie. I look at it closely, and sometimes smell it to add to my anticipation. I take that first bite and let the oatmeal roll around in my mouth so I can taste the mixture of chocolate and almond butter that permeates the cookies. They are small cookies, perfect for finishing in three bites before I get distracted from the task of tasting. Even just sitting with the taste of those cookies for a few seconds feels like an eternity. Unfortunately, it’s not in a way that is an eternity of pleasure. It’s more a terror in staying in the present moment, a desire to check out as soon as I can, a worry that if I stop being able to check out with cookies, I’ll stop being able to check out when life is just too overwhelming.